Bike lane at Dal postponed
University bike lane injunctions before the courts
November 27, 2014, 7:02 PM AST
Last updated December 1, 2014, 9:28 PM AST
The protected bike lane pilot project at Dalhousie University will be put on hold for a while.
The project came to a standstill after injunctions were filed by three people —- Mary Macdonald, Marcia McIntyre and Jerry Reddick (aka Dawgfather) —- against the city of Halifax in regard to the project.
Reddick filed an injunction because the bike lane would put him out of business. MacDonald uses a motorized wheelchair and McIntyre has a prosthetic leg. Both depend on the handicap parking spots at Dal for easy access to the main buildings around campus.
“I don’t think it was right to do this. To have so many parking spaces taken away,” said MacDonald. “It’s going to make it more difficult for people who have mobility issues as they are going to have to walk further. The side streets are not cleared very well during winter.”
There will be court dates for the injunctions in December and the new year at the Nova Scotia Supreme court to determine whether or not the project can proceed. Until then, the bike lane will be on hold for the foreseeable future.
The University Bike Lane is a pilot project between the Halifax Municipality and Dalhousie University. It will be the first protected bike lane in Nova Scotia, meaning that there will be physical barriers between the cyclists and motorists, and the project will run for two years, after which a decision will be made to either take it out or implement more like it in the city.
“It’s not a permanent thing. It will be there for one to two years,” said Kelly McGuire, communications manager for Dal’s facilities management department. “It is possible that within 30 days, it will be a total train wreck and public consultation will tell us we can’t do it anymore.”
Ideally, the lane will run for two years, during which it will be monitored by the university. The timeline for this project is set so that data can be collected on who is using it and how many are using it throughout the different seasons. For this to happen, the lane would have to be a permanent fixture during that time.
“It is probably easier for it to be implemented on Dalhousie’s campus than anywhere else, since we are the major landowners on this street,” said McGuire. “It’s easier for (Dal) to do it, and we have the incentive of conducting the pilot for investigative or research purposes, ‘cause we are a university, that’s what we do.”
The bike lane would run along the north and south sides of University Avenue to Robie Street. Since this area is made up of predominantly Dal-owned buildings, it would allow the university to monitor the project closely.
The project was announced in September 2014. The Nova Scotia government also announced it would contribute half the costs up to $150,000, associated with the project. At that time, the lane was expected to be installed in the fall of this year.
However, several setbacks soon occurred for the project. Controversy over the bike lane rose due to the removal of 43 parking meters and the relocation of handicap spots to side streets. Several injunction applications against the city were filed, and Dal and the city are finalizing details, such as who is responsible for snow removal in the lane.
Dave McCusker, manager of Strategic Transportation Planning for Halifax, said Dalhousie was in charge of the project. The city would remove the heads of the parking meters and signage, but the lane is ultimately Dal’s responsibility, even though the lane is on city property.
It will cost roughly $200 to remove all the meters heads. The posts will be left in since there is no guarantee that the lane will be a success. All 43 meters provided the city with about $70,000 annually in revenue.
The bike lane would have to be in place by Mar 31, 2015, in order to receive the province’s contribution.
Dalhousie has been active in the bike community, and the Dal Bike Centre installed bike repair stands across the city last year. According to a press release by Dal, about 10 percent of students and faculty at Dal use a bike, and the university has more than 900 bike parking spots throughout the Studley, Carleton, Sexton and Agricultural campuses.