Yesterday, Halifax released their final draft of the Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP), aimed at increasing the use of sustainable modes of transportation.
What’s great about the plan:
IMP proposes major improvements for people who bike, including:
- Creation of a connected network of safe bike lanes on the peninsula and in Dartmouth with protected bike lanes on such as Morris Street, Windsor Street, Wyse Road, Albro Lake Road, and Brunswick Street
- Year-round focus on maintenance and snow removal on bike infrastructure.
- Data collection and monitoring program.
- An equity perspective in the distribution of Active Transportation infrastructure.
- A robust engagement and education strategy to share information when new facilities are installed.
These changes would mark a huge improvement for biking in the urban core. The proposal for a basic minimum grid will make the city safer for new and existing riders of all ages. With this plan, we are finally moving away from a piecemeal approach, to a holistic mobility network with safe streets for everyone.
The plan also identifies key trail connections including a connection to the Shearwater Flyer Trail, Chain of Lakes Trail, Bedford-Sackville connector, and the Barrington AT Greenway through Africville.
How it could be better:
A more ambitious timeline is achievable for the proposed bike network.
The most disappointing aspect of this plan is the timeline. The minimum grid of bike lanes that was originally slated to be completed in 3 years (by 2020), is now being pushed back to 2022. Is it feasible to complete this network more quickly? Absolutely. Other cities across North America (including Edmonton and Calgary) have proven they can implement a pilot network in fewer than 2 years.
This is especially true for the upgrades that can take place on the Halifax Peninsula, where 10 of the 21 routes on the IMP maps are existing bike routes and many others are being discussed publicly.
Other points of concern:
- Missing connection from the Allan Street / Oak Street local street bikeway to the rest of the network.
- No clear action on improving bike parking and end of route facilities.
- The western end of the Almon Street protected bike lane shifts to Liverpool Street
- Missing a long-term vision for expansion of the network beyond 2022.
There is lot to be proud of in this final draft. Certainly, a well-designed, network to create a family-friendly way to bike around Halifax is long overdue. We hope that this plan will be approved with a more focused and ambitious timeline the network of bike lanes. We support the plan and the positive change it would bring to the city if approved by Regional Council.
What can you do?
There will be a public rally December 5th at 9am before the councillors debate the Integrated Mobility Plan. Please attend the rally, and contact your councillor to show public support and ask for a more robust timeline on the minimum network of safe bike lanes – it can’t happen soon enough.