By Ruth Davenport - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - Halifax Regional Municipality will take another step towards greater environmental sustainability this fall with the introduction of the city‚Äôs first cross-town bicycle connecter route.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre talking constantly about a modal shift and moving people out of their cars, and this is providing a safer option for cyclists to make that a realistic option for their moving,‚ÄĚ said Coun. Jennifer Watts during the council discussion Tuesday.
Council asked for the route to be developed in response to a petition brought to City Hall in November 2010.
Based on extensive analysis and public consultation, the north-south corridor will run along Windsor Street and then along a dedicated cycle track behind the former St. Patrick‚Äôs High School to Quingate Place, and along Vernon and Seymour streets to the south end.
Dedicated bike lanes will be added to Windsor Street, eliminating 76 parking spaces.
Councillors were concerned about the impact that would have on a handful of businesses between Chebucto Road and Lawrence Street that have no access to off-street parking.
‚ÄúBiking corridors are great, but small business is having a difficult time, we all know that.,‚ÄĚ said Coun. Gloria McCluskey. ‚ÄúThis troubles me. I think we‚Äôre robbing Peter to pay Paul and I think it‚Äôs unfair to the businesses.‚ÄĚ
Transportation demand management program supervisor David MacIsaac said city staffers are working with the businesses, and short-term parking will be added to nearby side streets to compensate for the spots removed from Windsor Street.
It‚Äôs expected the new bike corridor will be one of three eventually running from north to south.
Watts reminded councillors that increased active transportation infrastructure is part of a strategic plan council approved three years ago.
‚ÄúThese are not entirely easy decisions‚Ä¶but it‚Äôs about building the cycling infrastructure, and there will be tradeoffs,‚ÄĚ she said.
Councillors approved the staff recommendation unanimously.