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South Park Street protected bike lane nears completion

WATCH: South Park Street will be the first street in Halifax to have a protective curb physically separating the bike lane from the motorists. Alicia Draus has more.

The bike lane along South Park Street is close to completion, with a portion of the protective curb separating cyclists from vehicles already in place.

Phase one — which will see one-way protected bike lanes on each side of the street from Spring Garden Road to Inglis Street — is set to be completed by the end of the month, right in time for back to school.

READ MORE: Halifax to create or refurbish 30 kilometres of bike and pedestrian pathways

“They will be installing some flexible bollards on top of the precast curb, just to provide an additional vertical element,” said Mark Nener, an active transportation planner with the municipality.

“There will be some signs going in and new pavement markings in the bike lanes and in the traffic lanes and at the intersections as well.”

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Next year, phase two will extend the bike lanes from Spring Garden Road to Sackville.

For cyclist Jesse Williams, the protected lanes are a welcomed addition.

“The painted lanes often seem to end here where we need them most, at intersections,” Williams said. “Up until now we’ve been designing conflict into our system.

WATCH (July 29, 2019): No bike lanes added to newly refurbished section of Halifax’s Quinpool road

No bike lanes added to newly refurbished section of Halifax’s Quinpool road
No bike lanes added to newly refurbished section of Halifax’s Quinpool road

“If you make a lane that’s completely separated and bring it all the way to the intersection, then that takes away the conflict and makes all road users happy.”

While South Park Street is the first in the municipality to get this type of protected lane, there are already plans to add similar lanes to Hollis Street, Lower Water Street, Terminal Road and George Street.

“That kind of facility is appropriate for busy streets where you have high volumes or high speeds,” said Nener.

In addition to those streets, the plan is to connect the bike lanes to a larger bike lane network as laid out in the Integrated Mobility Plan.

“So that plan includes a network within the regional centre of bikeways designed for people of all ages and abilities,” said Nener.

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“That includes protected bike lanes, it includes local street bikeways and also multi-use pathways.”

READ MORE: Halifax unveils first ‘local street bikeway’ at Vernon Street and Jubilee Road

For Meghan Doucette, executive director of the Halifax Cycling Coalition, it’s that network of bike lanes that’s important, especially if there’s a focus on protected lanes.

“The idea with having fully protected infrastructure is that more and more people will choose to ride a bike because we know that there are a lot of people who are interested but they’re concerned about safety and things like that on the road.”

While the new lane will make South Park street more narrow, parking on either side will remain, including accessible parking spots.

“We have designed into the facility access to the curb for those spaces specifically,” said Nener.

“So if the accessible space is mid-block, there will be a break in the pre-cast curb that would allow someone in a wheelchair to access the curb.”

To ensure that all road users have a full understanding of how the new layout will work, the municipality will be launching an educational campaign before it is officially completed.

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