What is the Crosstown Connector?
In 2010, we gathered more than 1,400 signatures in support of a bike lane to connect the North End and the South End of the Halifax Peninsula. The intent of the petition was to build a safe, clearly marked infrastructure that would help people get from A to B on the peninsula. Following the petition, city staff recommended a bike lane be built on Windsor Street, which happened in 2013. In 2016, staff are looking at building the southern portion of the Crosstown Connector, extending and enhancing the bicycle lane on South Park Street. One proposal includes a protected bicycle lane running from Sackville Street to Inglis Street, which would be Halifax’s longest protected bicycle lane, making it safe for people of all ages and abilities to navigate that busy part of town.
We need your help to build the South Park Street portion of the Crosstown Connector
To convince the city that a protected bicycle lane is the best option, please email Active Transportation Supervisor David MacIsaac, email@example.com. CC firstname.lastname@example.org and local councillor Waye Mason, email@example.com so that we can track support. If you don’t live in Waye’s district, please consider cc’ing your councillor as well. Tell David why a protected bicycle lane will make a difference for you, your family, and your friends.
Help us convince businesses to support the Crosstown Connector
We are running an outreach campaign to educate businesses and residents on the benefits of bike lanes. To do this we need to print marketing materials, canvass businesses, and convince our neighbours that a protected bicycle lane will benefit Halifax. Can you help us do this? Become a volunteer or donate today.
The story to date, briefly
City staff spent two years researching the proposal and consulting the public. The released their report in spring 2013. The report discussed the following five routes:
- Gottingen St
- Agricola St
- Connaught Ave
- Isleville-Northwood/Creighton-Fuller/Maynard (“Local Street Bikeway”)
The staff report recommended implementing the Windsor-Vernon route immediately and shelving the Agricola route due to concerns from a few vocal businesses. The Gottingen and Connaught options were shelved as they were extremely impractical for all road users. The report recommended that further study of the Local Street Bikeway option be undertaken as a substitute for Agricola St. To date (May 2016) no tangible progress has been made on the local street bikeway plan, and no rules for local street bikeways have been shown to Council or the Active Transportation Advisory Committee.
Our position and rationale
Based on our review of the available evidence, we believe that a continuous protected bicycle lane, on Agricola Street, North Park Street, Ahern/Trollope Streets, Bell Road, South Park Street, and Young Avenue is necessary to grow bicycle use in Halifax. We believe that a Local Street Bikeway on a disconnected set of side streets is not an equal alternative to a bicycle lane on Agricola Street. Experience from other cities proves that building a protected bicycle lane on the most direct route is the best way to encourage more people to ride a bicycle. This route provides a continuous route with lots of residences, shops, and businesses to stop at. According to the City’s own data, this route remains Halifax’s most popular bicycle route. This route is part of the Active Transportation Plan, meaning council has already declared it a good corridor for a bicycle lane.
Putting a protected bicycle lane on Agricola Street would means most of the parking would be removed. The portion on South Park Street would require very little parking removal, and we believe no parking would be removed on the Sackville to South Street portion. Evidence shows that the impact will not lead to the disastrous effects some opponents believe.
On-Street Parking on Agricola – The Facts
- Many of the spaces to be removed from Agricola can be replaced on side streets. (HRM staff presentation to the HCC, Jan 15, 2013 [no electronic copy is available])
- Concerns about the quality of the replacement spaces could be mitigated with well-designed signs to direct drivers to side street parking and advance warning of the parking changes could be given.
- Perception does not equal reality. The common opposition we hear from business owners is that most customers drive to their business and the availability of parking plays a role in their decision of where to shop; by this logic, businesses would lose customers if on-street parking is removed. However, the results of a recent local study do not support this belief. 70% of the customers surveyed walked to the Agricola Street business district, 14% biked and only 16% drove. This differed from business perception significantly. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed believed that more than three quarters of their customers drove to their business (de Jong, 2012 PDF)
- Opposition to removal of parking on Agricola is not unanimous. Despite many businesses believing that most of their customersarrived by car, 17 of them (44%) predicted that the removal of parking on Agricola would not change the frequency of customervisits, according to the recent Agricola parking study (ibid).
Of the proposed options, the Agricola route best connects the places where people live, work and play on the peninsula; it would bring cyclists directly to or near the MacDonald Bridge, the North End Business district, the Commons, Downtown, Dalhousie University, SMU, Point Pleasant Park, the hospitals, and the shipyards. It would be the spine of the Peninsula Bicycle Network, making cycling a convenient, efficient and attractive form of transportation for many residents. The local street bikeways option falls short in comparison, lacking the potential to attract new riders due to poor connectivity, safety, and intersection challenges.
The alignment of the North-South Cycling Route is a watershed moment for transportation planning in Halifax. Fundamentally, the decision will reflect the values we choose to prioritize as a community. Over the last 60 years transportation planning decisions have overwhelmingly catered to the automobile. Cities around the world and communities and groups within Halifax are recognizing the need for this to change. Our policies, plans and strategies in HRM also call for change in the form of compact communities that support walking, cycling and transit. To achieve this change we need to make bold decisions that challenge some of the values that have been the norm the last 60 years. This change requires leadership from all groups: communities, residents, non-profits, staff, and elected officials. Halifax Cycling Coalition believes HRM is ready for the change and sees a decision to ignore the benefits of Agricola as a decision to fortify the values of the past, not the values of the future.
The City built the Windsor Street bike lane. Why does the HCC maintain that Agricola Street the best option for the Crosstown Connector?
- The Agricola route has flat grades, no buses, relatively low traffic volumes, and holds a pedestrian-friendly character. The other routes fall short in these areas.
- Of all five proposed options, the Agricola route best connects the places where people live, work and play on the peninsula; it would bring cyclists directly to or near the MacDonald Bridge, the North End business district, the Commons, Downtown, Dalhousie University, SMU, Point Pleasant Park, the hospitals, and the shipyards.
- The Agricola route already shows higher levels of cycling than most other routes, indicating that the factors above do, in fact, play an important role in a cyclist’s route choice. The HCC has confirmed that the traffic count occurred along Quinpool/Cogswell St, so any traffic leaving Quinpool Towers and Quingate Place would count as having traversed the entire Windsor St route, potentially being the reason it was deemed more popular than Agricola.
I support the Agricola Route. How can I help ensure it becomes a reality?
Write or call your councilor
All councilors will have a vote on this so even if you live outside the downtown core, please let your councilor know that you support the Agricola Crosstown Connector route because it goes the furthest to improve the connections between where people live, work and play and it already features urban characteristics that lend themselves to a bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly corridor. Tell your councilor why bike lanes matter to you, your family, and your friends. CC firstname.lastname@example.org when you send the email.