HALIFAX – If you’ve been driving through downtown Halifax lately, you likely noticed something a little different in the core of the city. The municipality has just officially completed work on its first protected bicycle lane.
The two-way bike lane is about 300 meters long and located on along the section of Rainnie Drive that was recently converted to one-way traffic. The lane is separated from vehicle traffic by a painted buffer on the road and yellow plastic posts.
The Halifax Cycling Coalition says they are pleased with the new protected bicycle lane.
“Its so clear, the distinction between where the bikes are going to go and where the cars are supposed to go,” said Eric Jonsson, Halifax Cycling Coalition.
“When you drive by it, obviously that’s a bike lane.”
There were a number of cyclists out using the lane for the first time Tuesday, including Eliza Jackson.
“I thought it was awesome,” she said after pedaling up Rainnie Drive. “It’s that extra element of safety so it makes for a really smooth and safe ride.”
The Halifax Cycling Coalition says they are impressed with how fast the new bike lane project was completed.
“It was relatively quick to implement which I think is a really positive step for the city, that it went from the idea stage to being, you know, paved and put out there pretty quickly. We’ve seen the delays other projects have had and we were really excited about it,” Jonsson said.
The city has been dealing with a rash of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists over the last few years. So far in 2015, there have been more than 70 accidents involving bicycles.
Halifax Regional Police are hoping the new lane can help keep cyclists protected.
“It has been an ongoing issue and we are definitely looking into how we can try to rectify that and keep our bike community safer, as well as our pedestrians and our drivers,” said Cst. Diane Woodworth, Halifax Regional Police.
“The cyclists will have a designated lane for themselves so we absolutely hope this will make them safer.”
The cost for the new protected bicycle lane is pegged at $10,000. Officials say they are looking at where else the same type of project could work in the city.
“We are examining the feasibility of extending the Rainnie Street protected bike lane and connecting it to Brunswick Street, the first bike lanes that we had in the city,” said Hanita Koblents, Active Transportation Coordinator with the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The cycling community in Halifax is hoping the new lane encourages more people to get out and be active while feeling safe. They are hopeful the city will implement additional protected bike lanes through the city in the near future.
“As we go forward with our bicycle program, when we are building infrastructure we’ll be looking at options for protected bike lanes,” said Koblents.