Portions of South Park Street, Bell Road and Agricola, among others, were blocked off from automobiles to allow for a different kind of traffic.
Switch: Open Street Sundays held its first event on Sept. 9 as hundreds of people took over the road with their bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades and plain old legs.
One of those taking part was Tara Ibrahim, who was on her bike along with her family.
“We started up by Agricola and have been working our way down, it’s been great,” said Ibrahim.
“It’s a little intimidating at first and my daughter was saying the same thing, ‘Mommy, why aren’t we on the sidewalk?’, but I told her this is what it’s for, so we can get comfortable on the road with our bikes.”
Switch volunteers in bright blue shirts were on hand to help direct traffic, answer questions and administer first aid if necessary. Police were also on site with barriers to keep the roads clear of cars.
Ibrahim said events like this show people they don’t need to be afraid to use a bike to commute.
“It’s to get more comfortable with using a bike and hopefully people who drive will be more comfortable with bikes on the road over time,” she said. “This will help promote a healthy lifestyle, we need these sort of things more often in Halifax, so that it becomes a part of our culture.”
There was more than just biking and walking happening along the route, at Victoria Park spin classes were taking place and Samba demonstrations were happening further down South Park Street. A large group was partaking in ti-chi, in the middle of North Park Street, something you don’t see every day.
Event organizer Ross Soward said the Planning and Design Centre, a non-profit organization focused on city planning is already planning the next Switch event.
“Switch is really about changing the way we think about transportation in Halifax,” Soward said. “Demonstrating what’s possible through tangible projects like this will hopefully allow people to see what those possibilities are.”
He said they were tracking how many were taking par on Agricola and they logged between 400 and 500 people between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
“We got the green light for Switch around the beginning of August, so we had about a month to create a program for the day and we reached out to the community groups from the YMCA to Mountain Equipment Co-op to Samba Nova and almost everyone was eager to get involved,” he said. “We’d love to see this happen every first Sunday during the summer months.”
Several different groups were involved in order to make Switch a reality: The Halifax Community Health Board, The Halifax Cycling Coalition, The Awesome Foundation and more.