‘I’m giving up my freedom’: Ferry bans spark outcry from commuters

Halifax Regional Municipality’s decision to ban electric scooters and bicycles with trailers from being brought onto ferries has outraged the active and green commuter community.

“Because of this decision by HRM and Halifax Transit, I do have to give up this bike. I’m giving up my freedom,” Ethan Ferguson said, an electric-scooter advocate.

Ferguson recently purchased an electric scooter to commute from his residence in Spryfield to his place of employment in Dartmouth.

He’s previously crossed on the ferry without any issues.

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“There was never an issue with it at all. In fact, I got more comments from people saying, ‘that’s a nice looking bike where did you get that?’ Including the people who were actually operating the ferry.”

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HRM sent out a release on July 28 stating that bicycles with trailers, electric scooters and gas-powered scooters weren’t allowed on ferries.

Gas-powered scooters were never allowed on ferries to begin with, but the other two modes of transport were.

“We were very shocked and surprised to hear that bike trailers would not be allowed on the ferries,” said Kelsey Lane, of the Halifax Cycling Coalition.

The initial release prompted an outcry from the public. So much so that the municipality revised its initial ban to re-allow bicycles with trailers aboard.

“I wouldn’t say it was back-pedalling —; I think it’s a great example of when you consider safety first, it’s always going to be your first priority. But there can still be other considerations, maybe to be more accommodating,” said Adam Richardson, a senior communications advisor with the city.

Richardson says the bans were initially made out of safety concerns and that bike lane closures from the re-decking of the MacDonald bridge has drastically increased ferry ridership.

He says the city made the decision without public consultation or warning because it was a matter of safety and that was the main focus heading into the Natal Day long weekend.

“When it comes to policies and procedures, any feedback is welcomed. But we made the decision to revise the ban when we reflected on it internally,” Richardson said.

Segways, conventional bicycles, electric power-assisted bicycles with a small, electric-boost motor and bicycles with trailers of any kind are permitted on ferries.

Two-wheeled electric scooters remain off limits.

The revised ban can be found here.