For various reasons I won’t take the time to go into here I didn’t get my bike out and on the road ’til late yesterday afternoon with only a couple of daylight hours left.
But I did get going and wound up taking a very nice 9+ mile/15 km ride along the waterfront of Halifax, an old port city that is Nova Scotia’s largest metropolis at just under 300,000 residents. That makes it just about the same size as Anchorage, Alaska- a very comfortable size as far as I’m concerned.
Here’s the Strava map of the ride.
The entire loop took me about an hour and thirty minutes, but stopping to take photos accounted for about 40 minutes worth of that. Per RidewithGPS I averaged 10.8 miles/~18 km per hour. The steepest grade on the ride was 7.8 percent and I believe that. Along the waterfront the ride was a rolling one, up and down small hills. As soon as you left that area, though, you immediately had to climb up the long ridge that the city straddles. I climbed 150 feet/45 meter in elevation in about a quarter mile/475 meter meters, and then another 50 feet/15 meters at a lesser grade. No parking lot rides here.
I am unashamedly an infrastructure geek. A lot of times I’ll miss taking a picture of a historic building because I am busy looking at a bridge or an interesting freeway interchange. I’ll also admit to being a big advocate for building high capacity roads where they are needed, period. I am not particularly sympathetic to NIMBY opposition to these facilities, so if you catch me complaining about missing freeway links as we travel down the coast, keep that in mind. I’m otherwise harmless, and am also a big advocate of building dedicated bicycle facilities. I do not believe that urban governments discharge their obligation to the cycling community by painting some lines and bicycle outlines on a few unconnected busy streets, either. But I’ll revisit that rant on another day.
Here’s some pics, taken in sequential order as I ride along.
Along Bedford Road at the base of the hill where my accomodations are located. Halifax’s once busy railyards are located here, rusting tracks overgrown with weeds. A great place for a new divided highway paralleled by a bike trail.
And suddenly I am on a freeway! Halifax has a number of unconnected freeway segments that come up on the unwary bicyclist without warning. I’ll note that I have the latest bike map prepared by the local government and there is no way around this stretch.
It really got pretty bad. There appears to be plenty of room to build a bike trail here.
I will say that the drivers here appear, almost without exception, to be patient and courteous. That really helps.
The first of the two big suspension bridges- the two “Macs”- across the Halifax Narrows comes into view. This is the Mackay Bridge.
It’s big pretty bridge, very easy on the eyes.
It could use a paint job though. As a great Canadian once said, “Rust never sleeps,” folks.
The municipal power plant is right on this busy industrial waterway.
Is that a ship or a circus? You decide.
I’m guessing that this is the shipyard area.
The waterfront road approaches the downtown. Little did I know this turns into another freeway segment without any warning.
The second Mac comes into view- the Angus MacDonald bridge. This structure is much older that the Mackay bridge, but that is not apparent until you get up fairly close.
Even while being, for all intents and purposes, rebuilt, the MacDonald is another magnificent piece of the built environment. To me, a big bridge is a symbol of the human desire to not be bound in and restrained by barriers, whether manmade or natural. We always want to be able to get to the other side, whatever the other side might be. Bridges let us do that, and it is just gravy that they can be beautiful while performing that function for us.
This is major construction. Probably, given the state of the rest of the freeway and road infrastructure here, the result of years of deferred maintenance. A lot of the transportation infrastructure in Halifax looks, without intention to be mean, like it was imported in bits and pieces from Mexico after it became worn out there and then was not very skillfully reassembled. To give credit where credit is due, though, the new stuff looks pretty good. There’s just not very much of it.
I bet it’ll look great when it’s done. A parallel bridge is needed, though, as the MacDonald only carries three lanes of traffic, and there is no room to divide them. On the bus ride from the airport I crossed this bridge and it was bumper to bumper both ways from the approaches all the way across.
Lighting on the MacDonald. God love our neighbors to the north- they are so civilized.
Once under the second of the Macs, the downtown looms.
A bike trail appears, which as I found out, goes around a depressed below grade freeway section of the waterfront road.
The bike path suddenly disappears dumping me onto a sidewalk. It is very poorly signed. If you don’t know where it is, you wouldn’t find it. So I decide to head up the hill into the center of Halifax.
Looking down from just a short way up- and I mean UP- I notice that it’s getting dark and I have as far to go back as I have come.
The road passes a hill marked on the map as “Citadel” so I turn and ride around its base. The structure on the right side of the road is the city clock tower.
A closer view. You get a good sense here of the extreme grade up the hill to the Citadel area.
The clock tower perches at the bottom of the hill. I was not tempted in the least to walk my bike up the path and see the top.
A last photo on the way back, which I pretty much zoomed through without stopping. There are dedicated bike lanes in Halifax. Like the freeways, though, they do not connect up into a holistically conceived system. As such, they are nice for where they are at, but pretty worthless from the standpoint of safely bicycling in the city.
If my meds aren’t here Monday, we may do this again with an earlier start.