Putting the ‘gate’ in Quingate

HALIFAX – It goes without saying that there’s plenty Halifax could do to improve its pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Nothing, however, epitomizes this fact so much as the ‘gate’ on Quingate.

One of the best used pedestrian and cycling passageways, the gate is nothing less than Halifax’s most glaring bottlenecks. Yet unlike other bottlenecks, the gate happens to be the cheapest and simplest one to fix.

A through-fare for many commuters, students and errand runners alike, the high volume of foot traffic and continuous flow of cyclists is literally confirmed by the regular spectators of seniors and service staff who choose this space to sit in during the afternoons or while on smoke breaks.

There are clear reasons why this gate has become such a transportation hub for walkers and cyclists. Located just off Quinpool Road, I like to think of the gate as the entrance/exit between the North and South ends of the city. Not only is the gate at the endpoint of an extremely well used cycling route — Vernon Street from Dalhousie campus to Quinpool — but it provides a natural shortcut for pedestrians and bikers alike on their way to Windsor street and the North End.

The fact that so many choose to bike through a parking lot and narrow gateway rather than stick to the Quinpool and Windsor intersection also speaks to the shortcomings and more glaring safety issues with the on-street route. For cyclists looking to continue south from Windsor, a right turn onto Quinpool followed by immediately having to cross three lanes of often heavy traffic is required, before being able to make a left onto Vernon. For cyclists coming from Vernon who want to continue north up Windsor, a legal route simply doesn’t exist.

As for pedestrians, the gate is the most straightforward, efficient path to take — an especially important fact if you’re laden down with grocery bags from the Superstore, as many people are. Quingate also happens to be one of the few places where pedestrians can safely cross the Quinpool superblock during rush hour, when the street is jam packed with cars.

It seems completely unreasonable that the ‘gate’ on Quingate could remain for so long. That Halifax’s most poorly planned space could also be the easiest to fix is still a lingering reminder of the supremacy of the car in a city desperate for safer transportation alternatives.

The question is, what should be done? Widen the gate maybe? Or paint a bike lane through the parking lot? I’m sure others have far better, more creative ideas than me…please comment.

4 comments

  1. I ride my bike through the gate regularly, since Vernon/Windsor is a great alternative to busier Robie St, and an easy way to cross Quinpool. I learned about it from the city-published bike route map, so it’s especially frustrating that cyclists can’t legally ride straight through the intersection of Vernon & Quinpool. Why mark it on the map as a bike route if cyclists have to get off and walk? I wish the city would put “Bicycles Excepted” signs next to the signs preventing vehicles from travelling straight through.

    That being said, I expect there would be liability/legal concerns with directing traffic through the nursing home parking lot. Perhaps an easier (from a liability standpoint) method would be to send cyclists through the publicly-owned high school parking lot.

  2. My main question is “Who’s land is this?” As it connects Quingate Place and St Vincent’s Guest Home, my impression- rightly or wrongly- is that this is private property. If so, this highly trafficked thoroughfare sort of becomes an allowance on the part of these two landowners, in my mind- something they tolerate, but don’t particularly want to promote.

    I use this passage nearly every weekday and have no problem waiting to allow another bike to pass through first or for a mom with stroller or a pedestrian to scoot by first- to call it a bottleneck is a bit of an exaggeration. If any further infrastructure was put in place, it would become a higher trafficked area and require an even greater overhaul of infrastructure and routing on Windsor and Quinpool.

    This passage is my favourite little gem in the city. I like it how it is- save for some pesky potholes, of course.

  3. Good article…is anyone here familiar with the pathway that leads from the south end of Chebucto Lane towards Quinpool Centre?

    http://maps.google.ca/?ie=UTF8&ll=44.647742,-63.596495&spn=0,0.004823&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=44.648075,-63.596584&panoid=QCr6chm104_CKouDfoty2g&cbp=12,153.9,,2,0.65

    It was blocked off a year or two ago (you can see the “no trespassing” signs in the above view) by the landlord of the apartment building in the foreground.

    It was a very popular route and there was even a Facebook group about it with a couple hundred members. The landlord was really nasty and covered the fence with some sort of oil so you couldn’t climb over it.

    I looked on ExploreHRM and the whole driveway is owned by HRM (presumably Chebucto Lane formerly extended further south). Am I correct in assuming the landlord is outstepping his ability in blocking the pathway off? I wish this would come to light and the pathway would be reopened. Maybe I will send a letter to the councilor. 

  4. It the sort of gem you take for granted – until its taken away.

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