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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

HRM’s Active Transportation Committee revs up for 2010

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<p>Without adequate infrastructure, commuting downtown can sometimes feel like this.</p>
Without adequate infrastructure, commuting downtown can sometimes feel like this

HALIFAX – On January 21, HRM’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC) held it’s first meeting of the year in order to make plans and set goals regarding expansion and improvement of HRM’s Active Transportation network (AT). Transportation Demand Management (TDM), having committed to expanding our AT network by 20 linear kilometres by the end of the year has really stepped up its commitment to improving AT by increasing transparency in regards to AT infrastructure installation. Nevertheless, we are still approximately 70kms short of reaching AT targets defined in HRM’s AT Plan before including the 20 km expansion.

I met up with Halifax Cycling Coalition Co-Chair Lauralee Sim and asked her a couple quick questions about ATAC’s first meeting of 2010.

Steve: Did any issues take the spotlight at the ATAC meeting?

Lauralee: We didn’t discuss AT issues in detail at this meeting. We spent our time discussing how we can work as a group and reviewed some key points in the AT plan. We’re hoping to determine some priority issues at our next meeting in February.

Steve: What did ATAC representatives have to say at the meeting?

Lauralee: All of the committee members are excited and optimistic about moving the Active Transportation Plan forward. However, at this point in time, we’re still working through what our role could and should be. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get more guidance [last April]. Many people on the committee have never been part of an advisory committee before, so I think discussing what similar committees do and how they work might have helped us understand our own purpose and capacity. On a positive note, one member told me that the AT Advisory Committee in its present form seems to be more effective than the old Bikeways Advisory Committee, if for no other reason besides our better attendance record.

Steve: So no goals are really set for 2010 so far?

Lauralee: Not for the committee. We’re still trying to define what our role is in relationship with Council and HRM staff, and set a solid direction. I’m hoping this will come out of February’s meeting so we can move forward.

One major AT barrier that we can overcome together is how to better design and develop our public spaces to encourage active living and transportation — whether it be facilitating rollerblading, walking, skateboarding or cycling instead of car use, or having outdoor fun with friends. ATAC meetings, being open to public participation, is one way HRM is giving the power of planning public spaces to community groups and citizens by connecting all of us to City council and City departments such as Transportation Demand Management or Halifax Regional Trails. Although it seems as though we’ve had a slow start to 2010, I’m excited to see what we can all do if we pull together!

Bike lanes, sidewalks, endpoint infrastructure, better policy. What do you think the Active Transportation Advisory committee should focus on in 2010? Leave your comments below.

photo by Steve Bedard


One comment

  1. I have lived in Toronto for the last seven years, and bike to work every day; one thing I’ve noticed here in Halifax is the absence of bike stands on the sidewalks of commercial streets and major public spaces. There are a lot of group stands at the University Campuses, etc. but not enough infrastructure for cyclists elsewhere. Perhaps HRM could follow in the footsteps of TO, where citizens can fax / email in their requests for stands in specific locations that are lacking, ie: Spring Garden Road, or at various public spaces. Metal artists in some parts of TO replace the stands with designs that reflect local neighborhoods. Maybe we should ask HRM to hold a public design competition for a Post and Ring stand — like one held in New York: