News / Halifax

'Thrown under the bus for a bike lane': proposed two-wheel route in Halifax raises concerns

Mulling over a protected bike lane on University Avenue puts two groups on opposite sides of the street.

Avid cyclists and those wanting more commuters on two wheels instead of four say it's a great start. They say a protected bike lane, separated from vehicular traffic by plastic bollards every four metres, is what this city needs.

But others, like Marcia McIntyre, said the bike lane comes at too high a cost. Three accessible parking spots will be moved further down University Ave and five others will be moved about a block away on the Killam Loop.

“It shouldn't be that the disabled get thrown under the bus for a bike lane,” she said at a public information session at Dalhousie Wednesday night.

The city hosted the session to inform the public and collect their thoughts on the pilot project. Dalhousie, with partner funding from the province, wanted to install the bike lane  - which will cost an estimated $200,000 - last summer.

Halifax Regional Council was initially in favour, but then switched gears and sent it to a public consultation and a staff report.

Well-known hot dog vendor Jerry Reddick – better known as the Dawgfather - had previously launched legal action to stop the bike lane from encroaching on his business.

City staff will present their findings to council by the end of next month, and if approved the bike lane could be installed as early as May.

The city would lose $70,000 in annual revenue from 24 metered spots that would be eliminated.

Dave MacIsaac, supervisor of transportation demand management, said there is excitement about the first protected bike lane east of Montreal.

“And we're hearing concerns from folks about the relocation of accessible parking spots,” he said. “We want to make sure we get those right.”

Cyclist Brent Miller, a scuffed bike helmet swinging from his backpack, was curious enough about the project to drop in on Wednesday’s session. Miller bikes to school every day - but during his eight-minute ride, he's only on University Avenue for a few seconds.

Protected bike lanes would make a bigger impact on streets like Robie or Windsor, he suggested.

“I'll take it for now. It's a good start but for a solid, concrete permanent project more research (is needed).”

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