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The addition of a fourth lane would require the sidewalks on the bridge to be narrowed on both sides from by one metre. This will negatively impact pedestrians and is contrary to council’s strategic priority of promoting sustainable modes of transportation. As well, a crash barrier between the sidewalk and driving lanes would likely be required with four driving lanes on the bridge leading to a further reduction in sidewalk width on a designated heritage structure. In the long term, traffic volumes are likely to increase beyond the capacity that fourth lane could provide.
Council considered a trial lane reversal in November 2014 to assess the efficiency of two northbound lanes. The trial was not approved because Council felt the limits of the Buffalo/Banff Avenue intersection would make the trial ineffective.
Rather than implementing a hard limit on motorists travelling over the Bow River Bridge, since 2014 Council and Administration have worked in collaboration with stakeholders and focused on promoting and investing in alternative transportation, with significant success:
• With increased service frequency Roam Transit local ridership over the Bow River Bridge has increased 47% from 374,695 in 2016 to 552,132 in 2018.• Pedestrian traffic over the Bow River (pedestrian and traffic bridges combined) has increased 53% from 571,159 to 872,542 crossings between 2015 and 2018.• Bicycle parking capacity in town has increased 55% from 550 in 2015 to over 850 in 2018, and usage has increased 42%.• Total annual vehicle volume over the Bow River Bridge decreased by 3.6% (173,548 vehicles) from 2017 to 2018.• Days with travel time delays greater than 15 minutes between Rimrock Resort Hotel and the Buffalo-Banff intersection have decreased from 15 in 2016 to 8 in 2018.
Additionally, a Central Park pedestrian crossing is under consideration subject to successful applications for both Federal and Provincial funding. The project would encourage active transportation among both residents and visitors, reducing the reliance on private vehicles to travel over the Bow River Bridge. The potential impact of a second pedestrian crossing in reducing congestion over the Bow River can be derived from the Muskrat Street pedestrian bridge usage statistics, which increased 64% (from 166,601 to 273,581 crossings) between July and August 2014 and 2018.
In 2018 Banff’s Municipal Planning Commission approved the development of a 500 stall intercept parking lot at the Banff train station, with completion anticipated for summer 2019, within 10 minutes walking distance of downtown. Shuttle services will also be provided between the new parking lot and downtown by Roam Transit.
Further planning for intercept parking near the town’s east entrance continues with the federal government and Parks Canada, as Banff’s fixed boundary does not offer existing space to accommodate a parking lot of the size required on Town owned land.
From 2014 to 2018 parking stall peak time shortfall in Zones A, B, C (downtown core) has not exceeded 80.
The increased efficiency associated with moving through the intersection for both pedestrians and motorists outweighs the increased delays. However, your wait is shorter than you think. Motorists are waiting an additional 30 seconds per cycle at most (compared to timings prior to the scramble operations) and pedestrians up to an extra 37 seconds per cycle. These wait times are reduced in the winter as the traffic signals operate with a shorter cycle length.
This timing meets the Canadian standard for calculating pedestrian clearance of 1.2 metres/second and is balanced to meet the needs of all users. A longer pedestrian crossing time would increase motorist delay or shorten green time for motorists. The timing tried to balance all intersection users.
Traffic signals at Banff’s intersections are synchronized to support travel down the main Banff Avenue corridor. On busy summer days, the northbound signal pattern is combined with green times specifically designed for high traffic volumes, with video detection cameras that support each direction. The cameras trigger a signal change if there is no traffic facing the current green light, and associate the extra, unused green time to the other movement. There is no point in time when the signals are not feeding traffic onto the bridge.
The RCMP advise that Banff’s intersections require two professionally trained traffic management officers (RCMP or Bylaw) for each intersection. This makes flagging expensive as well as ineffective at signalized intersections.