Bike & micro-mobility share will transform how we travel in Kjipuktuk – with the right conditions in place

City Council has recently approved a pilot two-year bike share and micro-mobility share scheme, which is expected to commence in 2024. We welcome this decision and look forward to sharing our streets with more people cycling and wheeling, and to seeing more mobility options. 

Micro-mobility sharing is a positive step forward for urban travel – moving away from car oriented and dominated higher-speed roads, and moving toward mixed-use streets that support everyone irrespective of their travel mode.

We have already written to leadership to invite the formation of a specific working group, whose goal would be to ensure that safety and equity are a focus during preparations.

We would like to acknowledge and highlight some takeaways from HRM’s Shared Micro-mobility readiness study, completed in July 2020:

  1. Safety

“Respondents want to feel safer when biking, walking, and riding e-scooters, regardless of whether they use their own vehicle or a shared one. 

Respondents discussed a need for more low stress infrastructure, such as bike lanes, paths, and sidewalks, to feel safer when walking or using shared micro-mobility  

Respondents also talked about the need to create a city that works for people with and without disabilities,”

As users of a mobility system that is designed mainly for vehicles and drivers we recognise, despite the progress made with new dedicated cycling lanes and other infrastructure, that safety has not improved for cyclists. Higher levels of cyclist injuries were reported in 2022 compared to the combined average of 2018 and 2019. A large proportion – 67% – are struck at intersections. Source: Halifax Open Data. 

This is deeply concerning to us as the viability of cycling for mobility depends entirely on safe cycling conditions.

We expected to already have a completed bike network by 2022, per the Integrated Mobility Plan. However this is delayed indefinitely, with no new deadline set for completion. The following features are prerequisites for a successful bike share scheme that supports riders of all ages and abilities:

  1. safety interventions and traffic calming that support slower speeds on routes where sharing the road with motor vehicles is required.
  1. Physical separation from vehicles on routes with higher speed limits (i.e. above 30 km/h).

Such work must be completed using quick build/tactical methods to ensure completion prior to the commencement of the share schemes. We welcome involvement with planning adaptations and would be glad of the opportunity to collaborate.

“For a public bicycle system  to succeed, cycling must be perceived as  a  safe  activity.

– Transport Canada’s Bike Sharing Guide, March 2009.

As users of bicycles, familiar with the vulnerability of riding in traffic, we expect the city to demonstrate greater urgency with (a) the tactical reallocation of road space and (b) interventions that reduce driving speeds.

In many of  the European  cities  in  which  public  bicycle  systems  have  been  implemented  there  have  been  widespread  commitments  to  expanding  bicycle  facilities  while  simultaneously  putting  limitations  on  automobile  use.”  

Photo: Bike share in Europe – space / conditions to move safely

2) Equity

“Some called for bike share / scooter share that is free to use. Others were concerned that affordability would not be possible.”

“Many said that these transportation options should be available outside of downtown. Transit expansion was regarded as a way to complement the potential for shared micro-mobility.”

A micro-mobility and bike share scheme has the potential to provide an additional means of mobility for people with disabilities, as well as for people on lower incomes and equity-deserving groups, the demographics most impacted by a lack of mobility options.

However if fee structure and availability are set solely within the parameters of what is profitable for the operators of the share scheme, this runs the risk of potentially limiting its reach.

For this reason we encourage consideration of how payment could be set and supported so that the service is financially accessible (for example – discounts offered to holders of low income transit passes), and equitably distributed throughout lower income and diverse residential areas as opposed to predominantly downtown.

We would be glad to hear further from the municipality on these two critical issues of safety and equity. We look forward to working together toward a welcoming, inclusive and safe bike and micro mobility share scheme. 

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