Nova Scotia

Speeding cyclists deterring others from multi-use trail, say pedestrians

Users of a recreational trail running between Halifax and Lunenburg say that cyclists riding too fast and not signalling when they pass are deterring other people from using the trail.

Multi-use trail can be used by pedestrians, cyclists and ATVs

Jill Campbell-Miller of the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Rails to Trails Association says cyclists are welcome provided they follow the rules on speed and signalling. (BLT Rails to Trails/Facebook)

Users of a recreational trail running between Halifax and Lunenburg say that cyclists riding too fast and not signalling when they pass are deterring other people from using the trail.

The Rum Runners trail, which connects Halifax and Lunenburg, runs along a former rail bed and serves as a multi-use active transportation and recreational trail. 

But Timberlea resident Debbie McLean said, as a pedestrian, she no longer feels comfortable exercising her dogs or taking her young nephew for a walk on the trail. 

"I don't use it very often at all anymore, there's just too much bicycle traffic on it, and they drive far too fast," she told CBC's Information Morning. "I find it dangerous now."

McLean said she used to be in a walking group that used the trail that included several seniors "and a lot of them are hard of hearing and everything, and it was scary to them when all of a sudden [a cyclist] would be right on top of you. So we just decided we were going to stop."

She isn't the only person who feels unsafe on the trail. 

Cycling traffic a No. 1 issue

Jill Campbell-Miller of the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Rails to Trails Association, which manages a 13-kilometre section of the trail, said that before she joined the association's board she didn't realize the scope of the situation. 

"Up until that point, I was one of the people on the trail with my bike," she said. "And, in fact, when I first started hearing other board members complain about it, I honestly was rolling my eyes a little bit, kind of thinking, 'Oh, they're just not understanding cyclists.'"

A pathway to the left. One either side are bushes, trees and grass. On the right there is water.
The Rum Runners trail is a multi-use trail connecting Halifax and Lunenburg. (BLT Rails to Trails/Facebook)

But having heard people's complaints through social media — and experienced the trail as a pedestrian herself — Campbell-Miller said it's clear that there's an issue "and we know it's an issue not just for us." 

"The former co-chair of the St Margarets Bay rails to trails … told me that in their surveys their No. 1 issue that people complain about is cyclists not signalling and passing people too quickly." 

'We're happy to have cyclists'

As the volume of cycling traffic on the trail has increased, Campbell-Miller's concerns with cyclists have grown as well. Nonetheless, her association is not trying to discourage cyclists from using the trail.

"My husband uses it as an active transportation route to go to work," she said. "We're certainly happy to have cyclists on the trail."

But she said they need to follow the rules — advertised on signs along the trail — which include a posted speed limit of 20 km/h, slowing down when passing pedestrians and warning pedestrians with a bell. 

Hoping for increased enforcement

Campbell-Miller said the St Margarets Bay Area Rails to Trails Association has asked the provincial Department of Natural Resources to increase the enforceability of signalling rules and speed limits for cyclists on the trail. 

"We're certainly watching that and hoping that's something that can go through … it's simply about raising awareness and information that enforcement officers could potentially stop a cyclists and say, 'Do you realize you were contravening the rules of this trail.'"

With files from CBC's Information Morning