FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Sunday, November 27, 2022
Key message: Delays to the construction of cycling infrastructure are not supportable, and are strongly challenged by the Halifax Cycling Coalition.
Our membership rely on protection from vehicular traffic for their daily mobility needs. Vulnerable road users lack the physical protection engineered into motor vehicles. This means external infrastructure – bike lanes and separation from motor vehicles at intersections, where most cyclists are struck, is not optional or suitable for a long term project. Local incident data shows cyclists are increasingly injured on our roads.
As daily users of roads designed without bicycles or micro-mobility in mind, we are disappointed by the recent announcements made by the municipality:
- The cycling connection to the MacDonald bridge on the Halifax side, previously expected to be completed in 2022, will be delayed to 2024. The previously agreed-to bridge flyover design is subject to a further engineering assessment at a cost of $133,500.
- The cycling network is now proposed to be completed in 2028 and not 2024.
- The federal and provincial government have directed funding towards constructing cycling infrastructure in Halifax so that currently, the city is only paying 17% of the cost of updates to the cycling network. This federal and provincial financial support is due to expire in 2024. Further delays will result in the municipality needing to pay 100% of the costs for uncompleted parts of the network, making it far less likely that cycling infrastructure will be built with urgency, if at all.
A cycling city requires adequate cycling infrastructure. The municipality currently promotes cycling as an alternative to car use, however this is not a realistic alternative to driving for the majority of people without a complete and safe cycling network.
Our Integrated Mobility Plan confirms that it is car dependency that results in the highest economic and environmental costs to urban areas, not the creation of cycling infrastructure. We find it difficult to accept that delays to completing the cycling network are occurring. We believe the city’s approach requires greater flexibility, ambition, and courage with experimentation to ensure that vulnerable road user safety is treated as the urgent priority that it is.
We invite city staff and councillors to immediately consider:
- The potential for installing interim cycling infrastructure that will improve the safety of cyclists now, given that the municipality is promoting cycling now as a viable means of transport all year around. This may require the reallocation of road space on routes where there is ample space, or adjusting the location of the proposed network accordingly. Spring Garden Road for example is very well used by cyclists. Key sections have adequate space for road-space reallocation.
- What specific projects require property acquisition and are resulting in delays to the
network, and for alternatives to how cycling infrastructure can be designed in these areas,
for example by reducing traffic lane widths to meet recommendations from the National
Association of City Transportation (NACTO).
- What other actions can be taken to ensure that our network will be fully completed in
some form, whether that is tactical or permanently implemented, by 2024, as was
- If the permanent completion of the cycling network is expected to be delayed past the
expiration date of federal and provincial funding, we ask that the municipality provide a
prioritized list of parts of the cycling network that will be completed permanently before
2024 to make the most effective and impactful use of federal and provincial funds while
they remain available.
There are very many examples of safe separation for cyclists that have been achieved with limited cost, even overnight. Cities like Paris with networks of historically narrow roads have achieved recognised “cycling city” status within months, not years.
We have seen cities take the lead by supporting community-led initiatives, converting the desire to move without reliance on cars into results that yield change quickly. There is no reason that Halifax cannot also achieve these urgently-needed results by the original expected deadline in the context of urgently required safety and a climate emergency. HCC is committed to working with the HRM staff and Councillors in achieving the stated goal of a complete network by 2024. We think it is time to act with a purpose, not postpone.
For more information contact:
Halifax Cycling Coalition Office