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University Avenue Protected Bike Lanes Pilot

Working towards the renewal of University Avenue

The Protected Bike Lanes Pilot is a preliminary step in delivering the long term vision for University Avenue as set out in the Campus Master Plan.

Vision

Dalhousie, in cooperation with Halifax Regional Municipality, has developed a pilot project to install and study separated bike lanes along the north and south sides of University Avenue from Robie Street to LeMarchant Street. This is a valuable exercise to inform active transportation initiatives in the community and the first step to implementing Dalhousie’s vision for the renewal of University Avenue.

Our goal is to test best practices in cycling infrastructure, demonstrate the enhanced safety of a protected bike lane, and encourage increased ridership for cyclists of all ages and abilities. We are committed to supporting cycling on campus and promoting the development of a connected network for active transportation in the community.

Concept

A protected bike lane is a bicycle path along a road, physically separated from motor vehicle traffic, and distinct from the sidewalk. There are many different types of sparated bike lanes, including painted buffers, bollards, barriers, surface and elevation treatments.

On-street parking meters have been removed and painted buffers and bollards have been installed on University Avenue. This temporary infrastructure will remain in place until August 2018 for further study, design and data collection in determining how to implement as a permanent feature.

Design

Bollards will be installed along a painted buffer, spaced to provide enhanced safety for cyclists and also accommodate vehicle loading access to facilities. New signage will also define the bike lane and directions for parking and loading.

The length of the proposed bike lane is 400 metres along each side of University Avenue.

 

Features

Bike Corral and Rain Garden

Bike corral and landscaping project on the Killam Loop boulevard was completed in Fall 2014 to complement the bike lanes pilot. It Includes four recycled bike corrals, with parking for up to 16 bikes, permeable paving, and a rain garden to collect and treat stormwater from the surrounding streets.

The rain garden features plant material with native and adapted species, and allows for slow percolation of water into the ground. We are considering additional bike facilities, landscaping, and parking improvements to be implemented over the next 1-2 years that could enhance delivery of the pilot project.

Consultation and Data Collection

DalTRAC is undertaking the before & after study associated with the protected bicycle lane. A bicycle counter with display will be installed on University Avenue. Volume of vehicles, pedestrians, and people on bicycles is being studied to understand outcomes of the bicycle lane.

Further public consultation will occur at the six-month point after implementation to gather more feedback. Online feedback options will be available throughout the duration of the pilot project and comments are welcome anytime via Nathan.Rogers@dal.ca or MjWebber@dal.ca

Parking

Forty-three metered parking spaces were removed from University Avenue for the construction of the protected bike lane. The 79-spot Le Marchant Pay and Display lot was created in 2015 on South Street to help account for that loss. See this map for more information.  Accessible spots will be relocated to side streets or the Killam Loop near the Accessibility Centre. There is no net loss in accessible parking spots. 

Bike lane Usage

University Avenue Protected Bike Lane Usage

This webpage clarifies the rules of use within the Protected Bike Lane pilot project currently underway on University Avenue. Most information comes from Bill 93 - legislation designed to encourage safe sharing of the road by cyclists and drivers. It includes requirements for both cyclists and drivers.

WALKING

  • Pedestrians should not walk in a bike lane except to cross the road at intersections.

BIKING

  • Cyclists must travel in the bike lane in the same direction as the traffic flow.
  • Except when passing another cyclist, cyclists in a bicycle lane shall ride in single file.
  • After yielding to motor vehicles, bicyclists may enter the vehicle lane to pass obstructions (e.g. debris, slower bicyclists, a vehicle loading or unloading) or to make a left turn
  • At intersections where the bicycle lane ends, all traffic must merge. Drivers and bicyclists should exercise caution.

DRIVING

  • Parking is not permitted in a bike lane EXCEPT to actively load and unload.(less than 5 minutes)
  • Driving is not permitted in a bike lane unless avoiding a hazard, a left-turning car, or under instruction by a police officer.
  • Vehicles should never stop in the area signed as NO STOPPING.
  • Vehicles should never stop in between the bollards and the curb.
  • Vehicles should only stop in area signed NO PARKING/TOW AWAY ZONE for a brief period to load or unload people or goods.
  • Commercial loading and unloading should be done on side streets and loading bays where possible

COMMERCIAL DELIVERY 

  • Driving is not permitted in a bike lane
  • Parking is not permitted in a bike lane EXCEPT for active loading and unloading in the sections of the bike lane with no bollards. Hazard lights should be used.  
  • Vehicles should never stop in the area signed as NO STOPPING.
  • Vehicles should never stop in between the bollards and the curb.
  • Vehicles should only stop in area signed NO PARKING/TOW AWAY ZONE for a brief period to load or unload people or goods.
  • Commercial loading and unloading should be done on side streets and loading bays where possible.  A list of preferred loading areas can be found here.  

ACCESSIBILITY

  •                There is no loss in the number of accessible parking spots.    

Frequently asked questions:

I am a regular visitor to the Rebecca Cohn and I have mobility issues. Where am I supposed to park now?

There is no net loss of accessible parking spots. They are available around the corner on Seymour Street, and in the Killam loop, near the Studley Quad. Almost all of Dalhousie’s parking lots are available free of charge to the general public from 4:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. There are many free spots and lots located near the Rebecca Cohn. This parking map shows these areas.

Where will buses, including school buses, stop during events for pick up and drop off? 

Buses can use the loading areas in front of the Art Centre. The loading area in the bike lane is the same size as the previous loading area without the bike lane. Buses can load on the side streets, which is also common practice and minimizes impacts on people cycling in the bike lane.

Where will patrons of the Dalhousie Arts Centre (Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) park during events?

There are opportunities to accommodate patrons of the Dalhousie Arts Centre in a number of ways.  This includes:

  • Parking on side streets;
  • Free parking at Dalhousie University parking lots between 4:30pm and 1:30am on weekdays and all day on weekends e.g. the Central Services Building parking structure (167 stalls) is less than a block from the Arts Centre.  
  • There is also paid indoor parking at the McCain Building.’

·        This parking map shows these areas.

Can a vehicle park in a bike lane if there is no sign prohibiting parking?

A 2010 amendment (Bill 93) to Nova Scotia’s Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) prohibits parking in a bike lane. However, the law does recognize situations, particularly at bus stops, where it is necessary to temporarily stop or stand in a bike lane as part of operations; for example transit buses. Vehicles may temporarily stand in a bike lane while actively engaged in loading or unloading of goods or people. If you must stop in a bike lane to unload/load passengers or goods, you must yield to cyclists already in the bike lane prior to pulling over and stopping.

As a cyclist watch for commercial vehicles or buses that may be stopped in a bike lane. When this occurs, remember to wait and see if it is safe to pass on the left or wait until the vehicle leaves. If it is a bus, and it has a signal on to pull away from the curb, yield to the bus. If the bus is stopped and no signal is present, pass on the left to allow passengers to leave the bus.

I used to be able to park in front of the Arts Centre and leave my car long enough to go in and buy tickets for shows. Can I still do this? The signs say NO PARKING, TOW AWAY ZONE, NO STOPPING.

You can stop your car temporarily in the “No Parking” zone to load or unload people or goods from your vehicle. This includes leaving a vehicle unattended for a brief time to pick something up, drop something off, or assist someone to enter or exit the building. Hazard lights should be used. There is a break in the bollards (plastic posts) to allow for this.

Parking Enforcement Officers have discretion in determining whether the driver of a vehicle is in violation of the “No Parking” zone, so it’s impossible to give a precise definition of what will or will not be considered active loading. To reduce your risk of being ticketed we suggest you not leave your vehicle unattended for more than a few minutes (e.g., 5 minutes or less). Please consider the impact parking in the bike lane will have on people cycling in the bike lane, and look for a legal parking space to complete your trip to the Arts Centre.

The “Tow Away Zone” signs located along the University Avenue bike lanes apply to the "No Stopping” zones and the not the “No Parking” zones (traffic controls signs are read from top to bottom, with the Tow Away Zone sign applying only to the sign directly above). Any stopping in the bike lane for the purposes of unloading/loading should happen in the “No Parking” zones. Vehicles stopped in the “No Stopping” zones can be ticketed and towed.

If you must stop in a bike lane to unload/load passengers or goods, you must yield to cyclists already in the bike lane prior to pulling over and stopping. Understanding the impact of this is part of what we are assessing during the pilot project.  

 If I can stop in the bike lane for a short time to load or unload, why does the sign say NO PARKING, TOW AWAY ZONE and not LOADING ZONE?

Nova Scotia’s Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) prohibits parking a vehicle in a bike lane, but also allows for the act of loading and unloading in its definition of “parking.”  A “Loading Zone” would be in direct conflict with the wording in the Motor Vehicle Act and therefore cannot be designated where there is a bike lane.

What if I get a ticket while parked in the bike lane?

You can either pay your ticket or apply to have it reviewed if you think you have been unfairly ticketed. Only violations listed on the back of the “Request for Review” form can be considered for review. You can also dispute your ticket in Provincial Court. For information on how to dispute your ticket please visit: http://www.halifax.ca/ParkingEnforcement/Dispute.php

What if people park in the bicycle lane in the loading areas? How will this be enforced?

There will be normal parking enforcement and normal police enforcement of the corridor. Targeted information will be sent to those who regularly load in front of the buildings so that they are aware of the rules related to loading and unloading in a bicycle lane.  The impact of this loading on the bicycle lane will be monitored.  Any HRM resident may call 311 at any time to report any infractions.

I ride a bike, can I ride both ways in the protected bike lane?

No you can only ride, single file, in the same direction as traffic flow.

I ride a bike, if I am entering the bike lane from a side street with a stop sign, do I have to stop at that stop sign?

Yes, you must follow all rules of the road.

Is there no way to keep the parking meters and utilize the Median for the bikeways? Seems like it would be the best way to keep everyone happy.

Using the median for the permanent bikeway facility will be evaluated by the Municipality as part of planning for the permanent cycling facility that will be built on this corridor.  It was determined not to be an appropriate place for the pilot project because of safety concerns about the conflicts that would arise at each intersection. Also, a bicycle path on the median would require significant construction and investment, so it’s not appropriate for a temporary installation.

With fewer people riding bicycles in the winter months, why would you take away valuable parking for patrons of the Arts Centre, the Archives and our neighbourhood?

Part of the pilot project's research will be understanding the winter maintenance issues, and the potential for year round use of the lanes. There is no net loss of parking spaces with the creation of the Dalhousie Pay and Display lot, and there is free evening and weekend public parking at all of Dalhousie’s off-street lots. Both the 2014 Active Transportation Priorities Plan and the 2012 Institutional District Bikeways Plan support all-season cycling.

Why is the bicycle lane only four blocks long?

This project was initiated by Dalhousie University and the four blocks are fronted, for the most part, by Dalhousie buildings. Piloting the protected bicycle lanes on this section of the street is an opportunity to understand the many factors that need to be considered in trying a new type of bicycle lane in the city. Municipal staff are taking part in Dalhousie University’s formal monitoring and evaluation of the pilot project.

The University/ Morris corridor is identified as a candidate route for bicycle facilities in the 2014 Active Transportation Priorities Plan. In 2017, the Municipality will carry out planning to determine the most appropriate permanent cycling facility for this corridor and identify ways to mitigate any potential impacts on other street users.

How will the impacts of the pilot project be monitored?

Dalhousie has retained the Dalhousie Transportation Collaboratory (DalTRAC) to monitor the project and help understand the outcomes. Performance criteria being evaluated include: 

•change in number of people on bicycles

•changes in user behaviours

•user perceptions of safety

•impacts on other users of the street

Furthermore, Dalhousie is installing at least one “ecoCounter” which is a device that will automatically count people riding bicycles.

http://novascotia.ca/tran/roadsafety/onemetreq&a.asp

What happens to the bicycle lane at intersections?

The bicycle lanes extend right up to the intersections, but the bollards (plastic posts) end 15 metres before each intersection. Drivers turning right should yield to people in the bicycle lane and then enter the bicycle lane to make their turn when it is safe to do so (as on Windsor Street, for example).

Will snow be cleared from the bike lane during the winter? 

Yes, Dalhousie will maintain the bike lane year-round throughout the life of the pilot. Unfortunately, the bike lane is low on the snow-clearing priority list for the university. The lane will be cleared once entrances to all buildings, sidewalks, and common areas are already cleared.