YARMOUTH COUNTY - Active transportation, the Blue Route and the need for wider shoulders on highways were some of the items discussed at the Municipality of Yarmouth’s Nov. 14 meeting.
Presenters Elizabeth Pugh, active transportation co-ordinator/special projects engineer with Department of Transportation, and Ben Buckwold with Bicycle Nova Scotia provided advice on the best way to achieve goals in the region.
The region’s inclusion in the Blue Route, Nova Scotia’s provincial bicycling network, was discussed first. Once completed, the route will comprise a 3,000-kilometre network of signed bicycle routes, connecting riders with communities across the province.
The proposed sections for inclusion in this area of the province are along Trunk 1 to Dayton, then switching to the all-purpose trail. Heading out of town on the north side, the trail is proposed to Tusket, then from Tusket to Pubnico on Trunk 3 and from Pubnico to Shelburne County on the trail.
Pugh says, after consultations, those choices were selected as the most “appropriate look” for the route for this area.
“That’s what’s proposed at the moment, but nothing is written in stone,” she said.
There may be spurs off the Blue Route to access certain attractions.
Buckwold says, at present, most of our roadways and communities are not very well designed for cycling for the average person. “There’s often a lot of work to do and changes. It’s not as easy as sometimes putting paint on the road or putting signs up. Planning is very important – really strong plans and good studies to help understand how you can make those difficult changes if you really want the benefits of active transportation,” he said.
Councillor Loren Cushing brought up the need for wider shoulders for cyclists and pedestrians using Highway 304, the route to the lighthouse.
“It’s an incredible piece of highway that’s a large tourist attraction,” he said.
Pugh says when she first began work in her position, the highway was one of the first roads brought to her attention from a tourism point of view.
“I think at that time the volumes themselves were low enough that they didn’t meet our criteria for need for shoulders. But it has been awhile and it’s fairly easy to have traffic counts done,” she said, adding, “If TIR was to pave the shoulders, they would need some kind of contribution from council, it would need to be a partnership.”
Councillor Patti Durkee mentioned the need for wider shoulders on the road to Port Maitland Beach and Sandford. She also agreed with Councillor Cushing about Cape Forchu.
“I couldn’t agree more with Councillor Cushing with regards to Cape Forchu. It’s an amazing route and I know a lot of people want to bike out there, but it is not safe because the road is so narrow.
Councillor Trevor Cunningham pointed out that the Town of Yarmouth and Municipality of Yarmouth collaborated on a 114-page Active Transportation Plan in 2010, which talked of the importance of addressing the Milo stretch, Cape Forchu route and Route 3 by the Yarmouth airport.
“We’re very keen to source any provincial funding or help on these projects. We do have money in our budget this year, to do some preliminary engineering work on the Milo stretch in this fiscal year,” he said.