Nova Scotia

Haligonians more concerned about bike safety than B.C. counterparts, study suggests

A research team from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver has included Halifax in a six-year study on the health impact of new bike lanes and services.

Residents from Halifax, Victoria and Kelowna surveyed for study about bike lanes

A cyclist on University Avenue in Halifax. (CBC)

A research team from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver has included Halifax in a six-year study on the health impact of new bike lanes and services.

The study also involves Victoria and Kelowna, B.C. The cities were chosen because they are of similar sizes. As part of the research, a survey of 3,000 people has already been conducted, and 766 of them are from Halifax.

In a phone survey from last October, 34 per cent of Halifax residents who took part said they've ridden a bike in the last year, which was lower than both Kelowna and Victoria.

The principal investigator, Meghan Winters, said more people in Halifax have safety concerns. Twelve per cent of respondents said they consider biking in the city "very dangerous," and 27 per cent said it was "somewhat dangerous." 

"But if you put in separated cycling facilities a lot more of the population starts to feel comfortable," said Winters, who made a presentation to Halifax's transportation committee on Thursday.

Coun. Shawn Cleary pointed out that installing protected bike lanes creates controversy over issues such as the loss of parking.

Coun. Shawn Cleary says installing protected bike lanes creates controversy over issues such as the loss of parking. (CBC)

"When you ask questions about bike lanes you should ask, 'Do you want one if it means tradeoffs?'" he suggested.

Winters also told committee members that people with lower incomes tend to rely more heavily on cycling, walking and transit — and some places keep that in mind when they're creating new bike services.

"In Boston and New York the bike-share programs are going to roll out in lower income communities," Winters said.

The research team plans to visit Halifax regularly with updates on the study, which is funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

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