News / Halifax

Integrated Mobility Plan proposing bus lanes and bike lanes in Halifax

The plan is designed to get people moving more efficiently throughout the entire Halifax regional municipality – ideally without using cars.

Metro file

In true HΛLIFΛX style, the people behind the Integrated Mobility Plan are proposing some “bold” moves for transportation in the municipality.

The team behind the plan is holding its second of three rounds of public consultations this week. When finished, the plan will “create a regional vision for mobility” in Halifax.

There are some big ideas on the table, all designed to get people moving more efficiently throughout the entire municipality – ideally without using cars.

“The public’s been really clear to us; they would love to not have to drive if they had an alternative,” project manager Rod McPhail said Wednesday during the first of eight public meetings this week.

McPhail and his team are working to make the alternatives – walking, cycling and public transit – more attractive.

The bold move McPhail is proposing with transit is to give buses their own lanes. He said it’s hard to convince people to take the bus when it sits in the same traffic as a car.

“You’ve gotta give the advantage to the bus, and that’s what the bus lane is all about,” he said.

At the meetings this week, the team is unveiling its plan for a bus lane on Bayers Road between Windsor Street and the ramp to Highway 102: widening the road by shaving off two feet of sidewalk, ditching a lane of outgoing traffic on part of the street, and adding lanes on either side for buses. McPhail said it could be done using public land, and could accommodate 30 buses per hour at peak times.

Bayers Road is being used as an example that could be applied to other main transit corridors like Robie Street, but McPhail wanted to start small to gauge public opinion.

None of the moves in the Integrated Mobility Plan have been costed out yet, but McPhail said he believes much of it could be paid for by shifting priorities away from things like widening roads for cars. He’s also looking into funding from other levels of government.

But first, he has to find out what people want.

“We’re making sure we get their ideas, what do they want, what do they want to see – then we, Halifax staff, have to sit down and figure out, how do you pay for that,” he said.

There are six more meetings this week, and the next round of public consultation will happen in mid-April. McPhail hopes to present the plan to regional council in June.

Cycling network coming into focus, along with streets made for more than just cars

If the Integrated Mobility Plan goes ahead as planned, Halifax could have a connected cycling network by 2020.

The team presented a plan at the meeting on Wednesday for a network of bike lanes on peninsular Halifax, and what McPhail calls a “spine system” of bike lanes on the Dartmouth side.

“We’re very excited to see that the cycling network has come into focus as one of the priorities for the Integrated Mobility Plan,” Halifax Cycling Coalition executive director Kelsey Lane said at the meeting.

Lane said it’s too early to comment on the implications of the plan, but she’s hoping that cycling network will be made up of protected bike lanes, not just lines painted on streets.

“To have an all ages and abilities facility, you need to have that barrier … it needs to be protected,” she said.

Lane also hopes to see reduced lane widths on streets in the municipality to alow for protected bike lanes, and to calm traffic and make streets safer.

That’s part of the plan’s complete streets policy.

“The focus in the past in Halifax has really been for the car on the street,” McPhail said.

“The complete streets is really, how do we look after all people that move along roads, whether they’re on a bike, whether they’re in a wheelchair, whether they’re walking, whether they’re driving in a car, whether they’re on a bus.”

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