Halifax moves forward with 1.2-km protected bike lane for South Park Street

File - Halifax Regional Council has voted to install a 1.2-km protected bike lane, similar to the one seen here, on South Park Street. Tyler Schroeder / Global News

Halifax will soon see 1.2 kilometres of protected bike lane be installed in its downtown core at the cost of 55 parking spaces along or near the route.

The decision comes after a vote at Halifax Regional Council on Tuesday, which will see the municipality install the protected bike lane along both sides of South Park Street between Sackville Street and Inglis Street.

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Coun. Shawn Cleary billed the decision as the “first big test” of municipal council’s unanimous support of the integrated mobility plan. Many other councillors agreed.

“Change is hard,” said Coun. Sam Austin.

“But if we’re not willing to back that up, then [the integrated mobility plan] is just a piece of paper we wave around as a pretty prop sometimes.”

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The debate was heated with councillors split on the issue of whether removing the 55 parking spaces, or 12 per cent of parking spaces on the street, would be beneficial to local businesses.

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Tim Outhit voiced support in finding a way to support businesses that could be affected by the installation of the bike lane, using advertising or tax incentives as an example.

“We need to do these sort of things,” he said.

Coun. Steve Adams also voiced support for local businesses and questioned staff over the figures they used in their analysis that recommended the bike lane.

“I don’t assume that this will increase bike traffic as it’s not like people will just start biking at the start of the 1.2-km [protected bike lane],” said Adams.

Despite protests, the main motion passed 12-2.

WATCH: Protected bike lane data in Halifax outweighs complaints

Click to play video: 'Protected bike lane data in Halifax outweighs complaints'
Protected bike lane data in Halifax outweighs complaints

Council also agreed to an amendment from Deputy Mayor Waye Mason which will see the municipality measure any increase or decrease in bike ridership along the path for the next two years.

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Representatives from the Spring Garden Area Business Association sat observing council with some choosing to visibly shake or nod their heads as councillors spoke in favour or against the motion.

Construction on the 1.2-km bike lane will get underway this year, though portions, including construction of the bikeway between Spring Garden Road and Sackville Street, will not begin until spring 2019.

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