The Nova Scotia Bikeways Project has evolved out of a series of bicycling summits where it became clear that our province is behind the curve on cycling infrastructure compared with other jurisdictions across North America.
Seeking a successful blueprint for bike networks, the Nova Scotia cycling community chose the Quebec model which is highlighted by the Route Verte system. This is a network of cycling routes comprising over 4,000 km that feed into thousands more kilometres of local pathways and commuter routes. Since then, Route Verte administrators in Velo Quebec have made frequent trips to meetings and workshops here in order to help kick start the project.
Development is taking place in Nova Scotia. HRM has a bikeways plan that is being rolled out slowly, CBRM has a full plan, and Truro-Bible Hill is just finishing their plan. The concern is that if these developments take place independently then we would never have a cohesive system that operates under similar standards and also connect into a province wide grid.
The first area to step up as a pilot project was Pictou County. Eastwind Cycle Consultants of Halifax was hired by Pictou County Regional Development Agency in 2006 to put together a plan for a system of routes connecting the five towns and rural routes around the county. This task was completed and recommendations from the report have been acted upon. Pictou County now serves as a template for other areas looking to have their own connections to the system.
The next step was to prepare a report on infrastructure and to offer a set of recommendations on how to move forward with a province-wide network. Eastwind Cycle was given the task by Bicycle Nova Scotia and funded by Health Promotion and Protection NS. The report was published in February, 2009.
Phase II of the project consists of spreading the word on the opportunities created by bikeways for active transportation, community health and wellness, GHG emission reduction, active and safe routes to schools, tourism and economic development, etc. This task will be carried out through lobbying efforts and also through a series of public presentations across Nova Scotia throughout 2009 and beyond.
For further information, contact: Eastwind Cycle (902) 471 4424; NS Bikeways Report and Pictou County Project: http://eastwindcycle.com/Online-Files.