What is a 'slow street'?

    Slow streets are open to “local traffic only” to help reduce vehicle volumes and to create a safe space for residents to walk, roll and cycle while adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Slow streets provide options for workers to safely get to work either by walking or cycling without limiting those that drive.

    How are the slow streets being decided?

    We’ve aligned Slow Street designations with the All Ages and Abilities (AAA) cycling network and routes from the Active Transportation Priorities Plan (or a route that parallels the AAA network or Plan). In some cases, we’ve temporarily accelerated planned work. Only local streets (no main streets) and those without transit services (no bus stops) are being considered to become slow streets. Connections to existing active transportation infrastructure and overall connectivity (building a network of slow street) also factors into the selection process. Ideally, longer corridors are preferred for more direct travel. The intention is to create north/south and east/west corridors to help citizens move through the region safely and easily.  

    The Slow Street program involves temporary measures (like signs and traffic barrels) to establish more active transportation-friendly routes. This program is not meant to provide traffic calming on all residential streets. View more information on municipal traffic calming.

    What does local traffic only mean?

    Only those motorists who live, are visiting, or are accessing a business on these streets are considered local traffic. However, all the parking on a slow street remains available. If you were parking on a street for work, you are considered local traffic and can continue to do so. 

    The “Local Traffic Only” and “Slow Street” barrels in my neighbourhood keep getting moved. What should I do?

    If it is safe for you to do so, we would appreciate you moving them back in place. There should be a marker on the road to show where the barrels belong. If they have been damaged, please call 311. While we are working to monitor the slow streets, citizens are our eyes and ears on the ground, so we really appreciate your involvement and feedback. The barrels are part of our road infrastructure and like other elements (street signs, jersey barriers, and bus stops) they are not to be moved.  

    How can I suggest other streets that might be candidates for slow streets?

    Visit the Shape Your City Halifax project page to share your suggestions on where additional actions would be helpful to help residents move safely. Drop a pin on the map and tell us what you think could be done at that location to help you and your community have space to move. The feedback will be valuable in helping municipal staff determine the next steps for making temporary changes to streets as a result of COVID-19. No access to the internet? You can call 311 or email planhrm@halifax.ca with your suggestions.

    I’ve made a suggestion or a request on the map and provided my feedback. How long will it take for my suggestion to be implemented?

    Thanks for taking the time to share your suggestion with the Mobility Response team. Your input is very important to us.

    Our focus for the Mobility Response Plan is to make temporary changes to make safe spaces for citizens to move, queue, load, and support business. We’ve been reviewing the comments and while some of them are applicable to the temporary mobility response initiative, others require more permanent or longer-term changes to achieve.  While we’re not able to address all these suggestions through the Mobility Response Plan, many of them are related to other municipal initiatives like the traffic calming program, streetscaping program, or active transportation planning. We are collecting the feedback we’ve received for more permanent changes and ensuring it is passed onto our colleagues working on those initiatives for future planning.

    Will more streets be designated slow streets soon?

    Additional areas are being considered and will be communicated once confirmed.

    How long will these slow streets measures be in place?

    We’re not sure how long these slow streets measures will be in place. As public health restrictions and recommendations change throughout the recovery phases, the municipality will continue to modify adaptations to the use of its streets, sidewalks and bike lanes. Although these are temporary measures,  due to the uncertainty of the recovery phases, no time frame has been set.

    I am a hospital worker, the street I was parking on during my work day is now designated a slow street, where am I supposed to park?

    On the slow streets, all the parking remains available. If you were parking on a street for work, you are considered local traffic and can continue to do so.

    How is the Mobility Response Team supporting the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)?

    The Mobility Response team has been working closely with the Business Improvement Districts throughout the region. In turn, those membership-driven organizations are working with their businesses to determine what they need to be successful as they reopen. Providing the space to support business is part of the mandate of the mobility response team. We will continue to do what we can to help the BIDs as they navigate these new and challenging circumstances. If you own a business that is not part of a Business Improvement District, email us with any questions or concerns related to the Mobility Response Plan.

    Can you please clarify for me what Mobility Response “Phase” we are in? What exactly does that mean and when can we expect more phases?

    Our Mobility Response is a phased and incremental rollout. Our initial rollout included temporarily expanding the sidewalks, closing Argyle Street to vehicular traffic, signing slow streets, adjusting traffic signal timings, and creating loading spaces. As we continue to move and change with COVID-19, we have added additional slow streets to further connect the network, created more spaces to load for businesses and provided expanded sidewalk patio space to support businesses. All requests and ideas will be assessed, based on need, as we continue to roll out the program.

    Other cities across North America have taken various approaches to responding to transportation needs during the pandemic. What is the municipality planning to do to allow for people to observe physical distancing when using streets and sidewalks?

    While we are still working on a more detailed plan to support people’s transportation options during the State of Emergency and into the recovery phase, we are exploring temporary measures on streets that will: 

    • Make space to move: 
      • Expand sidewalk space to allow people to physically distance
      • Limit traffic on neighbourhood streets to local traffic only to create slow streets that are safer for cycling and walking
      • Create pop-up bicycle facilities to support people cycling
    • Make space to queue:
      • Create bumpouts for people to queue at intersections and along commercial streets where expanding the sidewalk entirely is difficult
    • Make space to load: 
      • Provide places to support new models of food delivery and increased demand for pick up from restaurant
    • Make space to support local:
      • Establish some closed streets to allow for more space for cafes and restaurants to spill out onto the street as we enter into the recovery phase
      • Create connections to local businesses

    With transit offering limited service, what is the municipality doing to help residents travel safely?

    We recognize the restrictions posed on transit service at the moment have greatly impacted our residents who rely on transit as part of their daily lives. Our Mobility Response will look for ways to supplement some key transit connections using walking, rolling, and cycling. We know these forms of transportation cannot fully replace some of the crucial connections that transit provides.

    What areas are being considered?

    As part of our Mobility Response, we are considering temporary measures on a number of streets to meet different transportation and public space needs including:

    • Major commercial streets with several essential destinations including health care centres, grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores, etc. like Spring Garden Road and Quinpool Road
    • Neighbourhood streets 
    • Streets with proposed bikeways as part of the Integrated Mobility Plan’s AAA Minimum Cycling Grid network 
    • Streets with a high concentration of restaurants and cafés 

    Is the municipality considering closing streets?

    While the State of Emergency is in place, we will not be fully closing streets. We recognize people need space to walk and cycle but there are concerns that a fully closed street may become a destination for people to meet up or gather. Instead, we want to focus on making more space to move people in high-demand areas. 

    As part of the reopening phase, we are exploring closing streets with low traffic volumes and a high concentration of restaurants and cafes. This would provide space for these establishments to create outdoor dining areas for visitors and allow for physical distancing between small groups who may be dining together.  

    Will the public have input on what actions are taken?

    Yes,  we will be seeking citizen feedback via this Shape Your City page.  Place a pin on the map and fill in the question. Help us understand how we can make moving around safer for you. There are 4 pins representing: Space to Move; Space to Queue; Space to Load; and Space to Support Business

    The first phase of our response was based on feedback we received already about where there is demand. However, as we work to roll out more of our response plan, your input will be invaluable to us to understand a) where else we need temporary measures & b) how the measures in place are working.

    What does this mean for the staff report requested by Regional Council?

    At the April 28, 2020 meeting, the following motion was approved by Regional Council: 

    “That Halifax Regional Council request an expedited staff report on providing safe mobility through an inexpensive, tactical, and temporary installation of bike lanes and active transportation routes along the lines of the already approved minimum grid network in the Integrated Mobility Plan or nearby, easily implemented streets.”

    Our Mobility Response includes interventions designed to achieve the same goals as the motion that was passed by Regional Council and these can be implemented without a staff report to Council. Recognizing the need to respond quickly to emerging transportation issues as per the motion, staff will work to implement these measures before a staff report is submitted. 

    Staff will respond to the motion that was passed with a report on the status of the development and implementation of the Mobility Response.