Nova Scotia

New Agricola Street bike parking gives shoppers a place to lock up

Unlike the proposed bike lane in 2013, this Agricola Street project is a collaborative effort.

Unlike the proposed bike lane in 2013, this Agricola Street project is a collaborative effort

The project is a collaborative effort with the Halifax Cycling Coalition, the North End Business Association and the city. (Halifax Cycling Coalition/Twitter)

After sitting in storage for the winter, a pilot project for bike parking has popped up on Agricola Street.

The bike corral has moved around the corner from last year's Charles Street location, and is now visible on the busy commercial block housing the Agricola Street Brasserie, Local Source Market, Lion & Bright Cafe and Envie.

Spearheaded by the Halifax Cycling Coalition, the project is a collaborative effort with the city and the North End Business Association.

"There's often not enough parking for people who ride bikes," said Eric Jonnson, board member of the Halifax Cycling Coalition. 

Funding for the 16 space project came from a $7,107 grant from the District 8 Capital Fund last year. Building the project cost approximately $3,000.

The parking spots outside these businesses could become permanent. (Emma Jones/CBC)

A reason to 'slow down'

North End Councillor Jennifer Watts says even though the parking space may take away a commercial loading zone, it will benefit local businesses, cyclists and pedestrians.

"It just gives a little bit of a better feel, that this is a place where you want people to slow down," said Watts.

"So it becomes a place where the community does slow down and take a look at what's around there, which is important for cycling safety and for local businesses."

Change from 2013 bike lane 'discord'

Watts says this collaborative effort is a welcome change from "discord" on Agricola in 2013, when the Halifax Cycling Coalition proposed a bike lane for the street. Their proposal was met with concern from some local businesses and later refused by the city.

"There was quite a divide between the business community and the Cycling Coalition, but this is a project where both those groups have come back together," said Watts.

"They've really seen the value of doing this, and that this type of infrastructure of very safe parking for cyclists in a high visibility area is really important and really attractive."

A sign on the corral explains where the money for the project came from, and that the zone it occupies isn't taking away any parking. (Emma Jones/CBC)

Local business weighs in

Nicole Marchand, dietician at Agricola Street's Local Source Market, acknowledges the new bike space "will have some people complaining."

"The argument could be less parking, but the alternative argument would be the supporting of active transportation, which is really important," said Marchand.

"If you're perfectly able to walk, there's no reason you can't park five minutes away."

Meg Norris, front house manager at Envie, says her environmentally-conscious team and customers are "all for having a place to lock up your bike."

She's noticed that as the weather gets warmer on the busy block, many cyclists have a hard time finding a spot to lock up. She thinks the increased bike parking space might even make Envie a little bit busier.

"It'll probably mean that a few more people will come in and sit down and enjoy their meal rather than just coming in for some takeout food knowing that there's a safe spot to keep their bike locked up outside."

The parking spots are already being put to use. (Emma Jones/CBC)

'One part of the plan'

Jonnson is hoping that after this season, the project will leave its pilot status behind and become a more permanent fixture.

"It's pretty simple, but we're hoping it all works out," said Jonnson.

"What I'm hoping is just that it shows the city that we can do these small things that are super inexpensive, and the world isn't going to end. This is just one part of the plan to make cycling a much more accepted and regular mode of transportation for people."

Watts says city staff will be measuring the impact of the pilot and considering implementing it in other spots across the city.