Expanding The Network

Walking and cycling are forms of transportation that are affordable, environmentally sustainable, and that promote the health and well-being of our residents while reducing congestion across the city.

The Halifax Regional Municipality is working to building a comfortable, convenient network of walking and cycling routes to provide people with options for moving around their communities.  The focus is on connecting people to destinations and making this infrastructure accessible to people of all ages and abilities – from ages 8 to 80, including new and the seasoned users. By investing in designated infrastructure for walking and cycling, the municipality is contributing to building healthy, vibrant, sustainable, equitable communities across the Halifax region.

Walking and Cycling Infrastructure in Halifax

Up to date as of April 2021. Figures marked with * indicate kilometers of street with a bicycle facility.
Facility Type Location Kilometers in Halifax
Facility Type Location Kilometers in Halifax
Sidewalks Urban, suburban 993.1
Multi-use pathways Urban, suburban, rural 211.5
Bicycle lanes Urban, suburban 63.7*
Protected bicycle lanes Urban 6.4*
Local Street Bikeways Urban 1.4

Active Transportation Policy and Planning

Over the past several years, the development of our walking and cycling networks has been guided by Making Connections: 2014-19 Halifax Active Transportation Priorities Plan. The Active Transportation (AT) Priorities Plan outlines where and how the municipality plans to build new multi-use pathways (also known as AT Greenways), sidewalks and enhanced bicycle facilities. 

In December 2017, Halifax Regional Council adopted the Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP) that prioritizes AT projects that have the greatest potential to shift the way people move around the municipality. This has resulted in a target to build an All-Ages-and-Abilities (AAA) Cycling Network for the Regional Centre, priority regional multi-use pathway connections in communities across the municipality, and several key sidewalk connections by 2022.

The municipality also works with several community trails organizations to plan, design and build multi-use pathways across the region. These projects are largely community-led and often only a high-level plan exists for where a multi-use pathway will go. To build on these concepts, municipal staff work extensively with community stakeholders and conduct preliminary studies to determine what is possible and feasible for making the desired connections. 

Once a route is identified, either in municipal plans or through a community-led process,  the municipality uses a planning and design process that evolves from a line on a map to a sidewalk, bicycle lane, or multi-use pathway on the ground. There are four major phases in the planning and design process.

Active transportation planning and design process

Functional Planning: The functional planning stage is where we identify different route options for a new walking or cycling facility and concepts for what it could look like on the street. A major component of the functional planning process includes stakeholder and public engagement. Based on feedback received from stakeholders and the public, municipal staff will evaluate and refine initial concepts. An option is then selected and design and cost estimating begins. In this stage, additional studies may be undertaken to help support decision-making. The final result is a design that is 30% complete with an estimate of how much it will cost to build. At the end of the functional planning phase for bicycle lanes and local street bikeways, recommendations may be brought to Regional Council for direction to move forward with the facility as proposed. 

Preliminary Design: The preliminary design stage helps to refine the designs from the functional planning process and get them ready for detailed design. This is also the stage where municipal staff begin to coordinate with internal and external groups to determine how to make the new facility possible. This may mean negotiating with land owners, determining how drainage will work, or getting permission to move utility poles.

Detailed Design: The detailed design stage is about getting designs ready for construction. This includes preparing final designs for drainage, intersections, and traffic signals. Once the designs are nearing completion, several municipal departments review the designs to ensure that they are able to be constructed and meet the needs of each department. The final drawings and cost estimates are then prepared. 

Construction: Based on the detailed designs, the municipality will issue a tender for construction in order to select which company will build the new facility. Depending on weather, construction can happen from May to December.  The construction company builds the new facility according to the detailed designs. When it’s done, the new facility is open for walking or cycling.