News / Halifax

'Take some action:' Cycling advocates say law changes more effective than bike light pilot

A pilot on bicycle traffic lights and cross-sides isn't as helpful as permanently allowing those measures in the Motor Vehicle Act, say advocates.

Bicycle traffic signals like these could be installed in a Halifax pilot project.

Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star Staff

Bicycle traffic signals like these could be installed in a Halifax pilot project.

While a new Halifax request around bicycle traffic lights is one piece of the puzzle, advocates say more changes must be made to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) at the same time to keep people safe.

A staff report coming to regional council Tuesday asks for Mayor Mike Savage to write to the province requesting that bicycle traffic signals and cross-rides be enabled in the next revision of the MVA, and until then allow HRM to conduct a five-year project to test and evaluate those changes around the municipality.

But Kelsey Lane, executive director of the Halifax Cycling Coalition, said since HRM already has a long list of requests before the province around changes to the MVA (like the ability to lower residential speed limits, outlaw dooring, and drivers right-hooking cyclists), a more effective strategy would have been to request multiple changes at once.

“It’s kind of a waste of time,” Lane said about the suggested pilot. “There’s tonnes of things that can be missed with one quick change, it has to be more than that.”

Although bike traffic lights at intersections, and cross-sides (crosswalks for bicycles) are being used across Canada and part of upcoming projects like the Macdonald Bridge bikeway project, Lane said the staff report misses out on other aspects of that project or the Integrated Mobility Plan - like bike boxes, which designate a space for cyclists to wait in front of cars at traffic lights.

Lane said the Cycling Coalition was told by the province that they’re waiting to update the MVA all at once within a couple years - which Lane said is far too late for city projects to wait.

“We’ve been talking about this for quite some time now, so it’s time to stop talking and actually take some action on this, and see the province make those moves to make it safer,” Lane said.

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