Choice and Safety
Whether you drive, take transit, walk, use a wheelchair or ride a bicycle, you rely on infrastructure built by the municipality. How we choose to get around has a major impact on our lives and is shaped by the options we’re offered.
For many residents, taking transit, walking and cycling are currently unattractive ways to travel. Halifax Transit’s shortcomings and streets that are hostile and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists encourages people to drive instead. The resulting traffic congestion hurts our economy, pollutes our environment, damages our health, drives up our taxes and costs us time. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can build a transportation network that is good for both the economy and the environment and that also improves our quality of life.
We need a transportation network that offers choice and safety.
We’re a small city, but we can still have great public transit. Cities like Ottawa have built fast, frequent and reliable transit systems using buses as their main vehicle. HRM has made some needed investments in transit, but ridership has been flat for several years. Why? The main problem is taking transit is often significantly slower than driving, it’s not reliable or convenient and the system isn’t user-friendly. We need to tackle these issues if Halifax Transit is going to reach its full potential. Some improvements:
• Bus Rapid Transit and priority measures such as lanes and signals, to make transit faster and more reliable
• Frequent service on core routes to make transit more convenient and reduce wait times
• Technology upgrades to reduce loading time and speed up the whole system
• Quicker rollout of the new network plan (5 years to implement is too long)
• Maintain improved ferry service after the Big Lift is complete
• User-friendly system that has clear routes and schedule displays
• Pilot summer service to recreational destinations on the weekends and off-peak hours
• Late night service on the busiest routes
Walking and Cycling
A good transportation system needs to provide space for pedestrians and cyclists. Almost everyone is a pedestrian at some point during their day and bicycles can move a lot of people if the right infrastructure is provided. We’re very lucky to have some great trails in Dartmouth, but there is still room for improvement. We’re missing key connections, the rollout of the Active Transportation plan is slow and we’re not building the cycling infrastructure (protected lanes) that has been shown to increase ridership. We can do better:
• Build missing connections in the off-road system including the Shubie Canal Greenway, Penhorn Lake and Woodside-Shearwater
• Speed up the rollout of the Active Transportation Plan
• Fix gaps in sidewalk infrastructure, especially on busy streets such as Crichton Avenue
• Improve cycling access to and from the MacDonald Bridge
• Separate bike lanes from traffic on busy streets to make citizens of all ages and abilities feel safe to ride
• Coordinate with the Province in constructing the Blue Route
A growing number of cities, including New York City, Boston and Vancouver, have adopted Vision Zero plans. They don’t accept that serious injuries and deaths on their roads are inevitable and we shouldn’t either. Education and enforcement are important, but they can only go so far because people are imperfect. A moment of inattention combined with bad timing is all it takes. To really reduce the number and severity of collisions, we need to keep the human element in mind. Our streets should be as forgiving as possible of our mistakes. We need to look at design.
• Address problematic intersections such as Woodland/Lancaster and Thistle/Victoria
• Traffic calming in residential areas to make streets safe for kids again
• Require sideguards for trucks in HRM’s municipal fleet and by contractors working for the municipality
• Safer crosswalks by increasing visibility and reducing the distance between corners
• New street design standards that provide space for everyone: pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and drivers
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