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Downtown bike paths will benefit cyclists, drivers, and environment

Last week, a 2.8 kilometre bike pathway system was approved by the HRM Transportation Standing Committee
The protected bike lane on University Avenue in Halifax (Meghan Groff/

Last week, a 2.8 kilometre bike pathway system was approved by the HRM Transportation Standing Committee.

The next step is to seek approval from municipal council for the cycling infrastructure on Hollis Street, Upper Water Street, Terminal Road, and George Street.

"We're really pleased with that," says Kelsey Lane, the Ecology Action Centre's sustainable transportation coordinator.

Lane says this network makes up eight per cent of the "minimum grid" that cycling advocates hope to achieve in the city by 2022.

"Many people who have ridden down that street know the bike lane on Hollis Street has been problematic for a number of years," Lane says. "So the improvement and the upgrades have been a long time coming."

As population density grows in Halifax, Lane says the city needs to invest in more transportation options, like buses and bike lanes.

"We need to think about ways to get more people downtown efficiently," she tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

But advocates like Lane still hear from people who think the investments in cycling are a waste of money.

"I really struggle when people say bicycle lanes are so expensive, when we're investing 200 million dollars in a Burnside Connector highway," she says.

The bike pathways won't only be beneficial for cyclists already on the road, they will also get more people out.

"They will make it safer for the people that are already biking, their real benefit is that they're going to encourage more people to bike," Lane adds.

She says statistics from Calgary show that ridership was up 200 per cent after protected bike lanes were implemented.

It will also be safer for drivers who worry about sharing the road with cyclists.

"It makes it clear where the bicycles are supposed to be on the roadway, so it's actually really helpful for car drivers as well," Lane says. "Because there is that physical barrier."

Lane says all Haligonians have a stake in the issue, whether it's physical activity angle, the environmental angle, or the decongestion of traffic downtown.

"These facilities are relatively cheap, they have proven results, and they make it safer for everybody to get around. It's a win win win," she says.

The bike pathway proposal will go before council on April 30.

"If you are interested the best thing that you can do is let your voice be heard," Lane says. "It's not just for somebody biking, but it's for the future of the city."

Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

After graduating from journalism at King's, Victoria Walton now works in the film industry and as's weekend editor.
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