Halifax is finally getting a protected bike lane on Hollis Street.
The transportation standing committee is recommending that Halifax Regional Council approve adding 2.8km of bike lanes to multiple streets downtown–the first being Hollis.
Cycling commuters will be able to spin freely from the Cogswell Interchange all the way down to where Hollis Street wraps around Cornwallis Park and meets Barrington Street by the end of the year.
The Halifax Cycling Coalition is excited to see the plan. "It's setting a higher standard of protection for bike lanes in the city," says executive director Rachel Lynn.
Though councillors were generally supportive of the motion and proposed design for the Hollis bikeway–which will look similar to the protected lane being built on South Park Street this summer–with some questions about how it will function, but questioned why they're being designated as low priority for snow clearing.
At the moment, there's no standard for how bike lanes are cleared; they don't fall under street clearing or sidewalk clearing. In theory, current unprotected bike lanes are getting cleared of snow when the streets get cleared.
"So we build a protected lane hoping to get more people cycling year-round, but it will be snow-removed later than not only the road...and later than the sidewalk," said councillor Tim Outhit. "One could argue we're making winter cycling worse by doing this."
The snow has to go somewhere, but where the bike lanes are planned to go is where the excess snow usually goes.
"This is typically snow that doesn't leave the downtown for the full year," said Brad Anguish, director of transportation and public works. He told the committee poor snow removal is on the minds of the department staff.
"At this point: We don't have the equipment, we don't have the experience, we don't have a formal standard."
Outhit suggested the city may have to look at how the city removes snow altogether. In January, he supported councillor Shawn Cleary's motion to look at speeding up snow clearing for sidewalks and bus shelters. But efforts to allocate funding or improve clearing haven't made it through council this year.