B L U E P R I N T FOR A BICYCLE FRIENDLY HRM DECEMBER 2002 Halifax Regional Municipality Bicycle Plan

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1 TABLE OF CONTENTS PART I: BACKGROUND INTRODUCTION A Brief History of Bikeway Initiatives in HRM Past Studies The Overall Goal of the Bike Plan Planning Principles Definitions How to use this Plan PUBLIC CONSULTATION Strategic Interviews Focus Groups Public Workshops Consultation Summary Public Presentations of Draft Plan ASSESSMENT OF SAFETY ISSUES General Safety Issues Cycling Safety in HRM Comparison to Other Communities Motor Vehicle Accident Data Base LAND USE AND SETTLEMENT PATTERNS Residential Development and where People Live Commercial Development and where People Work Size of the Built-Up Area Patterns of Development DEMAND FOR BICYCLE FACILITIES IN HRM Commute to Work National Attitudes towards Cycling Factors People Consider when Deciding Whether or Not to Cycle Bicycle Tourism Bicycling and Health...17 PART II: THE PLAN BIKEWAY ROUTE NETWORK Existing Bicycle Lanes, Trails, and Routes Planned or Proposed Facilities Cycling and HRM Parks Inventory and Analysis of Road Network Pinch Points Strategic Barriers On-Road Conditions Beyond the Core Area Recommendations for Route Network Improvements SUPPORT FACILITIES Bicycle Parking Way-finding Showers and Changing Facilities Road Conditions...29 EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED TABLE OF CONTENTS i

2 7.5 Connections to Metro Transit Intermodal Links: Connections to Other Modes of Travel Recommendations for Support Facility Improvements SAFETY, PROMOTION, EDUCATION, AND ENFORCEMENT Existing Programs, Organizations, and Resources Existing Events Recommendations for Safety, Promotion, Education, and Enforcement INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK Municipal Level Policies and Bylaws Municipal Level Institutional Framework Provincial Level Polices Recommendations...42 PART III: IMPLEMENTATION Overview of Implementation Program Criteria for Decision Making Implementation Program Liability/ Risk Management Issues Funding Sources/ Strategies Cost Assumptions...55 APPENDICES APPENDIX A: APPENDIX B: APPENDIX C: APPENDIX D: Mini Studies List of Strategic Interviews Public Workshop Results Bicycle Count Methodology EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED TABLE OF CONTENTS ii

3 PART I: BACKGROUND 1.0 INTRODUCTION Momentum has been building in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) over the last several years with regards to the growing need for improved bicycling facilities and an institutional framework to support and promote those facilities. Increased bicycle use has the potential to confer many benefits to society. The provision of bicycle facilities can enhance health and well being, contribute to a healthy environment, and reduce traffic congestion while improving linkages within and between communities and increasing mobility, especially for youth and people without cars. While offering these benefits to local residents, bicycle facilities also help to support tourism in the region. Health-care practitioners strongly support the concept of active transportation. They recognize that walking, in-line skating, or bicycling to work or other destinations is a way to incorporate regular exercise into people s busy, but often sedentary, daily routines. Bicycles also give people mobility without the negative consequences associated with cars such as noise, air pollution and requirements for large amounts of pavement. Furthermore, alternative forms of transportation are needed to deal with ever increasing traffic congestion as the municipality grows. Adding extra lanes to increase road capacity does little in the long term to reduce congestion because demand always seems to expand to take advantage of whatever supply is made available. On the other hand, facilitating a modal shift from motorized vehicles to bicycles can be part of a balanced solution to the city s growing traffic problems. Finally, the tourism aspect of cycling should not be overlooked. The bicycle is already prominently featured on Nova Scotia s tourist map, and the facilities provided for residents will also support the growing tourism sector. A bicycle-friendly city includes on and off road facilities for getting around on a bike, as well as a good complement of support facilities including parking, education, promotion and signage. The provision of these facilities has enormous potential to increase livability for residents of HRM and a bicycle transportation plan is the first step towards this goal. 1.1 A Brief History of Bikeway Initiatives in HRM This section briefly outlines a history of initiatives undertaken to bring bicycle issues to the forefront over the last decade in the HRM. Each of these initiatives has served to maintain interest in the topic and work for improvements throughout the years. Prior to amalgamation, a committee in the City of Halifax consulted with members of the bicycling community and worked to install 50 bicycle racks throughout the city. At that time, they did not consider the provision of on-road facilities for bicyclists. In the former City of Dartmouth, another committee was actively pursuing and promoting Trans Canada Trail connections. The Dartmouth Metro Bicycle Action Committee s mandate was eventually expanded after amalgamation to include linkages throughout HRM but this group disbanded in the late 1990 s. The Trans Canada Trail Route through Dartmouth was officially sanctioned in Also over the past decade, a number of reports by students and academics were published on the subject of cycling access in Halifax. These studies maintained an interest in the topic throughout the preceding decade, and are summarized in a recent report entitled Active EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 1

4 Transport 2000 published by the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre. This organization helped to bring cycling issues back to the forefront by presenting a six point strategy to move forward with implementing bicycling initiatives in HRM to Regional Council in As a result of this presentation, a motion was passed to form a new multi-departmental Bikeway Task Force with a two-year mandate under the leadership of Councilor Sheila Fougere to carry out the report s recommendations. This group worked effectively over two years to accomplish their mandate, and was partly instrumental in getting this plan underway. In January of 2002, a great step forward for the development of bicycling facilities in HRM was also made when a Bicycle/ Pedestrian Coordinator was hired within HRM s Department of Traffic and Transportation. This was made possible with financial contributions from a local cycling advocacy group (the TRAX program of the Ecology Action Centre). Also in 2002, Regional Council approved funding to prepare an official bicycle plan for the HRM core area (see Map 4). This plan had been identified as a strategic addition to the Transportation Section of the Regional Plan and had been requested as an early deliverable in this process. This signifies recognition of bicycling as a means of transportation in the future planning of HRM. 1.2 Past Studies A number of previous reports, studies and documents on local cycling matters have been reviewed in order to provide background information to the plan. These documents have contributed to building a foundation for this plan and were useful resources in plan development. A number of cycling and transportation plans from other jurisdictions were also reviewed in order supply important background information. These studies and plans are listed in the bibliography. 1.3 The Overall Goal of the Bike Plan The goal of the Bicycle Plan is to enhance livability of the Municipality, and the health and well being of its residents, by encouraging more people to use bicycles for some or all of their day-to-day transportation needs. The steps outlined in the Bike Plan will accomplish this goal by creating an environment that is more comfortable, convenient, and encouraging to cyclists through: The use and adaptation of existing and planned infrastructure including roads and trails; The development and maintenance of new infrastructure to encourage bicycling; The provision of facilities that support bicycling such as bicycle parking, signage and connections to other modes of transportation; The provision of programs that support bicycling safety, education, and promotion, and; The incorporation of planning for cyclists into all relevant municipal activities and facilities. An interim measure of success in attaining this goal will be a doubling of the average annual modal share of cycling in each part of the Core Area of HRM by the 2010 Census, while the number of bicycle-related injuries and fatalities decreases. EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 2

5 1.4 Planning Principles The following principles have been developed to guide bicycle planning in HRM. They have arisen from direct observation of existing conditions, public consultation, and through review of other studies and the experiences of other jurisdictions. THE BIKE PLAN IS A TRANSPORTATION PLAN The bicycle is a mode of transportation. The basic goals of a bicycle transportation system for the HRM Core Area are to: 1. Establish good, continuous, and comfortable connections for cyclists within all communities of the HRM, and 2. Establish good, continuous and comfortable connections for cyclists between all communities of the HRM. EVERY STREET IS A CYCLING STREET According to the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act, cyclists have the right to use every street except where they are explicitly prohibited. All streets should accommodate cycling and designation of certain preferred bike routes does not mean that cyclists are not permitted, or discouraged from using other routes, or that conditions for cycling can be worsened on those streets not designated as bike routes. BICYCLE ROUTES FOR ALL Bicyclists have varying levels of cycling skills and abilities. For this reason, a plan for bicycle routes in the city needs to serve the transportation needs of a range of user types. To address this goal, a bikeway network should consist of two main components: Primary Routes: Those intended primarily for utilitarian cycling. Criteria for these routes will emphasize directness of connections and convenience. These will be primarily roadbased routes, and are likely to include collector and arterial roads. The long-term vision for these routes is for all of them to contain special facilities for bicycles, like bicycle lanes or wide curb lanes. Multi-use trails may be recommended as primary routes in the absence of good, safe, on-road connections, or where the trail provides a superior transportation link. Secondary Routes: Wherever possible, alternative family routes should be identified parallel to primary routes. The emphasis for these routes will be on comfort, scenic quality, and low vehicular traffic. Therefore, these routes may follow more circuitous paths, and may include components of multi-use trails completely separate from the road system. Secondary routes should also be defined or developed where conditions on the primary route may be discouraging to less experienced cyclists, children, and youth. However, the presence of secondary routes must not preclude the improvement of adjacent roads for the needs of cyclists. MIXED BAG OF TOOLS A good cycling network will consist of a number of different types of facilities including wide curb lanes, painted bicycle lanes, signed shared roads, and off road multi-use trails. Which facility is most appropriate will depend on local site conditions and decisions as to which type of facility to use should be made using accepted standards and practices of the day, combined with the professional judgement of municipal staff or consultants. EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 3

6 SAFETY FIRST Safety should be an important criterion driving the development of bicycling facilities. Special facilities should be provided where safety is an issue and the Municipality should strive to improve safety conditions (i.e. decrease the numbers of injuries and fatalities) while simultaneously increasing the number of cyclists. THE PROVISION OF BICYCLE FACILITIES SHOULD BE INSTITUTIONALIZED Policies, design guidelines, specifications, etc. that will guide HRM in considering the needs of cyclists when examining a range of land use, planning, parks and transportation issues are just as important to developing a bicycle friendly city as implementing physical changes such as creating bike lanes and route maps. Furthermore, human resources will need to be assigned to ensure development of HRM as a bicycle friendly municipality. SUPPORT FACILITIES ARE ALSO CRITICAL LINKS End-of-Trip facilities such as secure parking and access to showers can be just as important as the provision of good on-road facilities. Other support facilities include cyclist and motorist education; promotional activities and events; and good intermodal connections (i.e. with other forms of transportation like buses, ferries, and trains). BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME Supply of bicycle facilities will need to be provided in some cases where demand for bicycling is not evident. Without sufficient infrastructure in place, demand is often masked For example, few people bicycled from Dartmouth to Halifax and almost nobody commuted from Halifax to Burnside prior to the construction of the Macdonald Bridge bike lane. The development of this facility released a considerable amount of hidden demand, and now over 600 trips a day have been recorded on the Bridge in the peak cycling season. BEAUTIFUL BICYCLING Bicycling facilities should be attractive and wherever possible, contribute to the visual quality of the urban environment rather than diminish it. Good opportunities for enhancing the civic environment exist in the sensitive design of pedestrian and bicycle bridges, signs, and parking facilities. MAXIMIZE PARTNERSHIPS/ INTEGRATION In areas where the goals of the bike plan overlap with the Regional Trails Plan, the HRM Parks and Openspace Planning Guidelines, the Metro Transit Strategy, and other planning documents, partnerships should be developed that help reinforce and strengthen the goals of each party so that facilities can be integrated. Where a project is identified by more than one department as being a priority, resources should be pooled to make it happen. Partnerships with community groups, local businesses, academic institutions and higher levels of government should also be sought to advance the goals of the plan. EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 4

7 1.5 Definitions The following definitions have been used throughout this document. They have been borrowed from various accepted standards and are in common usage throughout Canada and the United States. Bicycle Route: Is any road or off-road facility identified as being important for bicycle travel, or signed specifically to encourage bicycle use. Bicycle Lane: Is a dedicated portion of a road for one-way bicycle use, which is designated by a lane marking (painted line) that separates the portion of road used by motor vehicles from the portion of road used by bicycles. Bicycle Path: Is any off-road dedicated facility for bicycles. Wide Curb Lane: Is a wider than normal travel lane intended for motor vehicles and bicycles to share. The portion of the road used by bicycles and the portion used by motor vehicles are not separated by longitudinal pavement markings (painted line). Motor vehicles and bicycles are expected to operate side by side. Multi-Use Trail: Is any off-road facility for non-motorized transport, such as bicycles, pedestrians, and in-line skaters. Signed Shared Route:Serves to provide continuity to other bicycle facilities or designate preferred routes through high demand corridors. They also serve to advise motorists that bicycles are present. Bicycle Network: Is an identified system of bicycle routes that has been approved by Council to be used to guide the development of facilities. The Network may include any road or multi-use trail specifically designated as being open to bicycle travel, regardless of whether or not such facilities are designated for the exclusive use of bicycles, or are to be shared with other transportation modes. Support Facilities: Include en-route facilities such as signage, maps and rest areas, and also end-of-trip facilities such as secure parking and showers. Contraflow: When bicycles are permitted (by lanes striping and/ or signage) to ride in the opposite direction from motor vehicle traffic on one-way streets. Rails-to-Trails: trail corridors. Refers to the practice of converting abandoned railway right-of-ways to Rails-with-Trails: Refers to the practice of utilizing part of an active railway right-of-way for multi-use trails according to best-practices guidelines and standards. Utilitarian Cycling: Is the practice of riding a bicycle to get between destinations. For example, this includes riding to soccer practice, to access recreational trails, to visit friends and family, as well as commuting to work and school. EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 5

8 1.6 How to use this Plan Development of this plan was based on research, an extensive consultation program, and field investigations. The plan is divided into 3 parts: Part I: Background. Includes introduction and general overview of cycling issues such as safety, demand, and urban form. Also describes the consultation program used in plan development. Part II:The Plan. Includes a detailed inventory and analysis of existing cycling conditions, programs, and policies in HRM, with a focus on the core area. Each section begins with a vision statement and concludes with a set of recommendations. Part III:Implementation.Is the action strategy for the Blueprint. It includes recommendations listed in priority order and a schedule for when each should be accomplished, as well as an overview of potential funding sources and liability issues. Appendices: In addition to the supplementary information usually contained in appendices, this section includes a series of mini-studies that were carried out in order to showcase some of the possibilities available in HRM (Appendix A). Further study and detailed design would be required before any of these feasibility studies could be implemented. Source (both images) : -Dan Burden EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 6

9 2.0 PUBLIC CONSULTATION Three levels of consultation were employed to gain input to the plan: strategic interviews, focus groups and public open houses/ workshops. These three levels of consultation assisted greatly with gathering a large volume of information about bicycle related issues from a variety of different perspectives. Much of the information included in this report was obtained through this process. The following describes the consultation program in more detail. 2.1 Strategic Interviews In order to supplement published information collected, and obtain more detail about particular issues, interviews with key individuals and groups were carried out. Individuals in various departments of municipal and provincial government; advocacy groups for bicycling, environment, and health; tourism associations, and others were among those interviewed to discuss their roles and needs as related to bicycling in HRM. A complete list of interviewees can be found in Appendix B. 2.2 Focus Groups Two focus groups were held in order to help zero in on the important issues for the broader public meetings. The Transportation Issues Committee of the Ecology Action Centre as well as staff from the largest bicycle store in HRM, Cyclesmith, were asked at two separate sessions what they felt were the most important issues facing cyclists in HRM. They were also asked what was the most important information the study team could obtain from the public at the upcoming workshops. These sessions directed consultants to design the public workshops in such a way that three key pieces of information could be obtained: A master list of ideas and suggestions for bicycle facilities/ programs/ policies; A prioritized list of the same, and; A list of the best things about cycling in HRM. 2.3 Public Workshops Five public workshops were held between July 8 to 11, 2002 in Halifax, Dartmouth, Sackville, Spryfield, and Burnside to ensure good geographic representation. The events were promoted through public service announcements as well as media interviews specifically asking non-cyclists to attend. Targeting the membership lists of specific groups and direct invitation helped ensure the cycling community was aware of the events. Over 114 individuals attended the five meetings. At the workshops, participants were provided with paper and large format maps of the core area of HRM and asked for their input on existing conditions, needs, deficiencies and opportunities in terms of facilities, programs, and policies. They were also asked to list what they thought were the best things about cycling in HRM. This was done to start t h e meetings off on a positive note. Best Things About Cycling in HRM Bike lanes on the Macdonald Bridge Moderate weather allowing year round cycling (more or less) Variety in terrain not boring! Can be faster than taking the bus Bikes accommodated on the ferry Compact urban area easy to get around Good existing trails Quiet side streets Scenic city Point Pleasant Park (weekdays) Purcell s Cove Road Good bicycle shops Water views No smog Drivers are usually polite and respectful Bike Lane on Brunswick Street Best things about cycling in HRM were identified during Public Consultations held in July EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 7

10 After each group recited their suggestions and a master list was compiled, the consultants invited participants to identify their priorities by supplying each person with 10 red dot stickers. People were told they could put all of their dots on one suggestion if they thought it was most important, or use their dots to identify a number of issues most important to them. This process established a limit which focused people on choosing their priorities. 2.4 Consultation Summary This information was analyzed by examining which recommendations received the most votes and also by aggregating the responses into a number of categories in order to obtain insights into what the public generally felt were priorities for infrastructure and program development. The top five categories are listed in the adjacent table, while the categorized and ranked master list of workshop results is provided in Appendix C. Category Number of Votes Modify policies and bylaws to 114 support bicycling Improve certain specific parts of 83 the road network that are now discouraging to cyclists Improve cyclist education and 74 motorist education Develop shared-use trails 74 Improve the road surface 70 Top five suggestion categories identified during Public Consultations held in July It is interesting to note that the public overwhelming recognized the importance of institutional changes, i.e. those at the level of policy and government. Numerous suggestions came forward in this category, but the importance of maintaining a full time bicycle coordinator position and a permanent, multi departmental task force or committee ranked as being of highest importance. Next in terms of priorities was the improvement of on-road facilities. A number of streets, and even specific parts of streets, were identified as requiring improvements to safely accommodate cyclists. Improving the access to the Macdonald Bridge on the Halifax side topped this list, and in fact was the single item most often mentioned. Improving the Bedford Highway and Fairview interchange ranked a close second, followed by linking the two communities of Bedford and Sackville currently isolated from one another by a highway. Education (for cyclists and motorists), the development of multi-use trails, and general road surface improvements also appeared to be very important to the public attending these sessions. Interestingly enough, approximately the same number of people called for the development of painted bicycle lanes, as called for wider road shoulders or curb lanes to accommodate bicycles. The bicycling community tends to be split between those who favour painted bicycles lanes and those who actually oppose them in favour of wide curb lanes. The third class of on-road bicycle facility, that of signed, shared routes, was mentioned the least, likely because this facility rarely requires any roadway changes besides improved signage. Other categories that received attention at these workshops included improved parking facilities, more incentives for cyclists, promotional events, enforcement, and bicycle racks on transit buses. 2.5 Public Presentations of Draft Plan Four months after the July meetings, a draft bicycle plan was complete. This draft was presented to the public at a series of meetings held in November Five meetings were held EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 8

11 as before for good geographic coverage and 109 people attended. The document was available on the Internet and comments were received for over two weeks. In general, response to the draft was very positive. Several additional recommendations were received and incorporated into the plan. There were also some concerns that the plan did not sufficiently emphasize recreation and tourism, or provide more detailed recommendations for rural areas. Some adjustments were carried out to address these concerns * but the study team (consultant and steering committee) felt that the intended scope of the plan to focus on bicycle transportation issues in the Core Area of HRM remained valid. It was also felt that all of the recommendations for transportation enhancements would have the dual benefit of supporting recreational, sport, and tour riding. In the rural areas of HRM, cycling occurs primarily on provincially owned roads or communityowned trails. These public facilities are, for the most part, not under the direct management of HRM. Any projects to encourage cyclists outside the Core Area would therefore require partnerships with community groups and/or the provincial government. As with any roadrelated issue, HRM will have greater opportunities to implement projects in the Core Area where HRM owns and manages the roads, than in other parts of HRM. The Core Area also has the greatest density of origins and destinations within a comfortable half-hour cycling time, so offers more potential for shifting trips to the bicycle mode. It is for these reasons that the study has remained focused primarily on the Core Area. Cycling has the potential to contribute to tourism, recreation, and local transportation trips in all of HRM and opportunities for working with the Province, trails groups, tourism associations, community groups, and other partners to improve cycling conditions all through the municipality have been identified throughout the plan. Public Workshop, July, 2002 * An additional map was added highlighting important rural highways for cycling; more connections to regional trails were labeled on the network implementation map; and recommendations that would especially support tourism and recreation were emphasized throughout the document. EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 9

12 3.0 ASSESSMENT OF SAFETY ISSUES This section includes a review of general safety issues for bicyclists recognized in the literature, the identification of "problem spots" and issues through a review of local information and public consultation, and a comparison of local injury and fatality data to that of other jurisdictions. 3.1 General Safety Issues John Forester in his book, Effective Cycling (1993) examined the causes of bicycle accidents. He found children ages 5-15 have the highest rate of injury, while rate of death is highest for children aged years (US National Bicycle Safety Network The adjacent table lists the most common reasons for accidents broken down by age group. This information will be particularly helpful in designing programs for different types of users. Median Age Major Causes Under 12 Entering the roadway Swerving about Right-of-way errors Wrong-way riding Over 14 Signal changes Motorist driveout Motorist turns Motorist overtaking Typical Car-Bike Collisions, Effective Cycling, Forester (1993) Type of Collision Urban Rural Total Turning and crossing 89% 60% 85% Motorist overtaking 7% 30% 10% Other parallel path 4% 10% 5% Distribution of Car-Bike Collisions Effective Cycling, Forester, (1993) The table to the left lists the distribution of the types of accidents that occur. Turning movements and street crossings are by far the most prevalent, while being hit by a motorist overtaking, although commonly feared, is one of the least common types of collisions. Other obstacles and hazards to cycling include: potholes, parallel sewer grate openings, broken glass, and opening car doors. Unsafe behaviours by cyclists include: riding too close to the curb, carrying unbalanced loads, passing vehicles on the right, riding fast on sidewalks, riding on the wrong side of the street, and improperly fitted helmets. 3.2 Cycling Safety in HRM John Shimeld, in a review of cycling accidents in HRM published in Between the Issues; (Winter 2000/01) found that between 1989 and 1999, there were 1,929 accidents reported to police throughout the province that involved cyclists. Seventeen were fatal, 1,426 caused personal injury and 486 involved only property damage. He found that 93% of the accidents occurred during the mildest months of the year from April through November (more accidents happen when there are more people cycling). This article also revealed that almost four times as many accidents occurred between 4 and 5 PM than during any other one-hour period of the day. This is interesting, especially when one considers that there must be roughly the same number of cyclists on the roads during the evening peak traffic period as there are during the morning peak. In HRM, as in many other jurisdictions, most accidents occur within 10 meters of an intersection (92% according to Shimeld s data). These figures re-emphasize the point made above that turning and crossing movements present the greatest risks to cyclists, and that good technical EDM ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED PAGE 10

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