Proposed bike lane yields mixed response

University Avenue bike lane proposal faces legal opposition from business owner.

The first public consultation on a controversial bike lane in Halifax’s south end was held Wednesday at Dalhousie University in light of some very vocal opposition to the project.

Jerry Reddick (known as The Dawgfather), who attended the meeting, has operated a hotdog selling business on University Avenue for 18 years. He has filed an injunction in an attempt to stop the project because he says he was not consulted during the project’s planning stages and claims the bike lane would put him out of business.

“Nobody took the time to consult with me, and that’s why it’s a problem,” Reddick said.

“University Avenue is not a place where a bike lane is needed,” he said. “You could find other places for that bike lane if you truly want [one].”

The first of its kind in Nova Scotia, the lane would run between Lemarchant Street and Robie Street and would be jointly funded by the provincial government and the university.

Cars parked along University Avenue. (Photo: John Sandham)
The bike lane would run from Lemarchant Street to Robie Street. (Photo: John Sandham)

The project has been in the works since last spring, and although the bike lane would only be 400 metres long, David MacIsaac, a member of the project’s planning and implementation team, hopes it will inspire more would-be cyclists to get on their bikes.

“We would like to have more of these protected bike lanes because these are the types of facilities that attract new cyclists, people who are perhaps scared to bicycle right now and would prefer to have some kind of separation between themselves and motor vehicles,” he said.

Dal Bike Centre employee Meghan Doucette echoed MacIsaac’s sentiment. “I think the purpose of it is to increase bicycle ridership,” she said. “It’s a good space [for] a pilot project, just to learn from this and see if they can implement this on other streets around Halifax.”

Halifax regional council initially approved the proposal in September, but that approval was withdrawn last month following the legal roadblock.

Apart from concerns about his business, Reddick said he’s also concerned about the reduction in parking along University Avenue and how it will affect people with disabilities.

“They lose direct access to seven buildings from University Avenue if that bike lane goes in,” he said.

As part of the project, the university will lose 24 parking spaces. (Photo: John Sandham)
As part of the project, the university will lose 24 parking spaces. (Photo: John Sandham)

Although construction of the bike lane would result in a net loss of 24 parking spaces along University Avenue, Nathan Rogers, the project’s lead planner and Dalhousie’s assistant director of capital planning, said the university has ample parking to make up for the loss.

“On-street parking just represents one piece of the parking picture,” he said.

The project’s planning team will now take public feedback into account and determine if any changes to the project are necessary before seeking approval from council before the end of April. If approved, construction could begin as early as May.

Rogers acknowledged the current legal proceeding against the project, but he is hopeful that council will once again give the project its support.

“There’s always obstacles and challenges associated with any project, so it’s not surprising that there’s opposition out there,” he said.

In other news: March 9 – 12

Top news this week from other news sources.

‘Thrown under the bus for a bike lane’: proposed two-wheel route in Halifax raises concern (Metro)

The City of Halifax and Dalhousie University are planning to install a protected bike lane on campus. Avid cyclists think this is what the city needs, while others claim it isn’t worth losing the three accessible parking spots that will have to be removed if the lane is made. The project would cost $200,000, and the city would lose $70,000 annually from 24 parking meters that would be removed. It was suggested that this type of bike lane would be more useful on a street such as Robie Street.

Dalhousie plans to hike tuition, cut faculty budgets (Chronicle Herald)

Dalhousie plans to increase tuition by three per cent and cut faculty budgets over the next year. Nova Scotia tuition is already around eight per cent higher than the national average. The faculty budget cuts will only affect departments with decreasing enrolment. This includes arts, social sciences, law, dentistry and sustainability. Departments with increasing enrolment will receive more funding. This includes science, computer science, engineering and medicine.

Former Dalhousie University startup rejects $500,000 Dragons’ Den offer for its booze bottles (Metro)

Daniel Bartek, Cam McDonald and Bobby Besant pitched their company, Sage Mixology, on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. The episode aired on Wednesday. They were offered $500,000 in exchange for 40 per cent ownership of the company and a distillery licence. They turned down the offer, because they say they want to focus on making their product better before continuing in their enterprise.

Kalin Mitchell says prepare for at least 20 cm of snow on Sunday (CBC)

Kalin Mitchell, a meteorologist for CBC, says to expect heavy snowfall late Saturday night. The storm is a result of a low pressure system out of the Gulf of Mexico, and will also affect southern New Brunswick and P.E.I., with P.E.I. seeing the worst of it. Parts of Halifax may see up to 30 to 45 cm of snow. Environment Canada has issued special weather statements about the weather disturbance.

Burning cigarette to blame for fire in Halifax’s north end (CTV)

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency crew were called to Agricola Street around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The crew found a storage shed on fire that had been used by a construction crew working on a local project. After an investigation it was determined that a cigarette had been disposed of into a pile of debris, and started the fire. Nobody was hurt.