Safe Bicycling in Halifax
Halifax is encouraging more residents to travel by bicycle as an everyday mode of transportation. The Municipality is developing a network of on-street bike routes and off-road Greenway routes to connect the places where residents live, work, shop, study and access services.
Rules of the Road
Knowing how bicycles, pedestrians and motor vehicles can “share the road” helps provide safe and enjoyable trips for everyone.
The “rules of the road” for bicycling and bicycle facilities are established in the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act.
Five contexts for sharing the road are:
1) Streets and roads with no bike route designation
Bicycles are permitted to operate on almost all streets and roads in all seasons.
- Bicycles should stay to the right and operate in single file.
- Bicycles may "take the lane" to avoid hazards or position themselves for a left-hand turn.
- Motor vehicles need to leave at least one meter when passing a bicycle.
- Motor vehicles should check for bicycles when turning right.
2) Signed Bike Routes
Some streets are designated as “bike routes” if they are important cycling corridors and have wider curb lanes or paved shoulders. There is typically no other signage or pavement markings on such routes. The guidelines for streets and roads with no bike route designation apply here.
3) Bicycle Lanes
Painted bike lanes are 1.2 – 1.8 meters wide and are identified with signage and pavement markings.
- Motor vehicles cannot park in a bicycle lane.
- Motor vehicles are not permitted to stop in a bicycle lanes, except for loading and unloading.
- After yielding to bicycles, drivers may use the bike lane to pass obstructions (e.g. debris or left turning vehicle).\
- After yielding to motor vehicles, bicyclists may enter the vehicle lane to pass obstructions (e.g. debris or slower bicyclists).
- At intersections, bike lanes are dashed.
- After yielding to bicycles, drivers should enter the dashed bicycle lane to turn right.
- Bicyclists may use the vehicle lane to turn left.
- At some intersections, bicycle lanes end and all traffic must merge. Cars and bicycles should operate in single file in such cases.
At roundabouts bicyclists have two choices:
- Leave the roadway and use the shared sidewalk. Bicyclists may ride on the shared sidewalk, but must walk over crosswalks.
- Merge with other traffic in the roundabout. Modern roundabouts are designed for slower vehicle speeds to help facilitate mixed use.
4) Shared-use Lanes
Some bicycle routes have sections with shared lane signs and pavement markings (“sharrows”). These are placed on the pavement in the intended area of bicycle travel. They are typically used in the following situations:
- where bicycle lanes are interrupted. Sharrows help maintain continuity of the bicycle route, help guide bicyclists and remind drivers to expect bicycles in the same travel lane.
- at conflict zones (e.g. intersections). Sharrows provide additional visibility for bicyclists.
Bicyclists are encouraged to ride over the sharrow symbols, but they are only a guide.
There are two types of designated shared lanes:
Where the lane is four meters or wider, they can typically be shared side-by-side.
2) Single File
Where the lane is less than four meters, they are considered too narrow to share side-by-side. Cyclists and drivers should share the road in single file.
General Safety Tips for Sharing the Road
- Watch for "dooring". Bicycles should operate about one metre to the left of parked vehicles. Drivers should check for bicycles before opening their door.
- All road users must yield to Pedestrians at crosswalks. (All intersections are crosswalks.)
- Be seen! Bicycles must have a white front light and a red rear reflector or light. Brighter clothing with reflective material is recommended.
- Be heard! Bicycles must have a bell.
- Only children can ride bicycles on sidewalks.
- All bicyclists are required to wear helmets.
- Bicyclists should use hand signals and be predictable in their movements.
- All road users should follow all posted signs, pay attention and get there safely.
Province of Nova Scotia Bicycle Safety Information
Halifax Regional Police Bicycle Safety Information
Can-Bike safety information and education
Canadian Automobile Association Bike Safety
Making Tracks Active Transportation Safety Education:
DalTRAC Share the Road:
To request a public bicycle rack, report damage or debris in bicycle lanes, call 311.