Worries, concerns over tacks found on new Halifax bike lane

HALIFAX – It’s still a mystery how and why many cyclists found pushpin tacks on the new Windsor Street bike lane in Halifax.

Reports of the tacks started trickling in on the Halifax Cycling Coalition Facebook page Tuesday and concern ramped up Wednesday morning as many started their morning commute.

Anyone who finds tacks on the bike lanes is asked to call 311.
Anyone who finds tacks on the bike lanes is asked to call 311. Courtesy/Halifax Cycling Coalition

Councillor Jennifer Watts is a cyclist and tells Global News that she found tacks on the bike lane on Windsor Street between Almon and Young Tuesday morning.

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“It was unclear why they were there and the reason for that,” she said.

However, Watts said the tacks could have come from construction in the area.

“I don’t think we should jump to the conclusion this is a malicious intent on the part of anyone,” she said.

She calls the bike lane an important piece of infrastructure in the city and said she understands there is an adjustment time for residents to get used to the new lane.

“Everyone has the right to be using the road and the sidewalk where appropriate.”

Brendan Elliott, a spokesperson for HRM, confirms that sweeper trucks were sent to area where Watts found tacks.

“We immediately sent out a sweeper truck and cleaned it up,” he said.

“I can tell you people have been there since and the tacks are not there.”

Cyclist Marie-Claude Gregoire bikes down Windsor everyday on her way to work.

She has not encountered any tacks but calls news of them “disappointing”.

“I hope it’s just a bad coincidence. I hope it’s not something that’s being done on purpose. There’s room for everyone on the street,” she said.

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Gregoire said that she had heard reports of tacks on other side streets in the area.

“I hope the incidents are not related. But two reports in the same neighbourhood of pushpins on the ground…it’s a bit weird.”

The cyclist stresses the importance of keeping the bike lanes clear and open and calls for better understanding.

“Most of us at some point are either cyclists, drivers or pedestrians. If there’s some anger to the bike lanes, we can sit down and talk about it,” she said.

Ben Wedge, co-chair of the Halifax Cycling Coalition, said he believes the tacks on the bike lanes are deliberate.

“There were a couple posts [Tuesday] suggesting there were tacks strewn for several blocks and there was a significant number of them. [There’s] too many accidents in one spot to accidentally drop tacks,” he said.

He admits that he has concerns about the presence of the tacks. Wedge said that he believes the tacks could be the work of someone protesting the new bike lane and adds that they have the potential to create dangerous situations.

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Wedge says a cyclist biking over a tack may find that his or her tire deflates quickly, which could cause the cyclist to panic and swerve into traffic.

He says it also creates a major inconvenience for cyclists who have to fix their tire and replace their tube.

But Wedge does not think it is indicative of the mood in Halifax between the cycling community and residents.

However, one business owner along Windsor Street who is upset over the new bike lane is real estate broker Patrick Stubbert, who runs Point Zero One Realty.

Stubbert said the bike lanes deter potential customers from approaching his business.

“If they see that bicycle lane, they will not stop. People will continue to drive until they can find a more convenient place to stop and do business,” he said.

The real estate broker is now taking action against the bike lanes.

“I went to my lawyer…who is now in the process of filing through the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia an injunction [on the bike lane],” he said.
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Stubbert says he expects the injunction to be filed sometime this week.

Anyone who finds tacks on the bike lanes is asked to call 311.

The Windsor Street bike lane officially opened Monday.