Banff Avenue Pedestrian Zone
The 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue and a portion of Caribou Street will be closed to vehicle traffic for the summers of 2022 and 2023 to create a vibrant outdoor destination for visitors and residents.
Banff Avenue closes to vehicles May 17, 2022
Banff Town Council has set the date for commencing the Downtown Pedestrian Zone as the start of the Victoria Day Long Weekend, and Banff Avenue and parts of Caribou street will be closed to all vehicles until the week of October 10. October 10 is the last day for businesses to have displays/patios on the road, and teardown begins October 11.
Restaurants and retailers that have received permission from the Town of Banff can install their presence on the street as early as Friday, May 20, in accordance with the guidelines they are provided. The Town will begin implementing pedestrian zone logistics and amenities staggered over the following days and weeks. Some aspects, such as full planters and ramp platforms will take additional time to prepare.
Cycling will be permitted within the pedestrian zone subject to signage indicating cyclists yield to pedestrians and maintain a ‘dead slow’ speed and transit will be allowed in the zone.
The best seat in Banff
This location is traditionally the busiest pedestrian area in the Town of Banff. In a normal year, up to 30,000 pedestrians per day can stroll down Banff Avenue in peak season. The pedestrian zone allows for visitors to experience the majestic vistas of Banff in a manner never available before. Restaurants and stores may offer sidewalk seating and retail displays along the pedestrian zone, and temporary public amenities will be provided including a bike valet, landscaping, and public seating.
Traffic in Downtown Banff
Banff Avenue is an important transportation corridor for vehicles. The closure of 2 blocks in the downtown core will create some traffic congestion, likely on busy summer days due to the detours.
Vehicle traffic will be diverted to adjacent streets, such as Lynx Street, Beaver Street, and to a lesser extent, Muskrat and Otter streets – on the east side of Banff Avenue, and Lynx and Buffalo streets – to the west and south of Banff Avenue. Access to the south side through detours and Buffalo Street will be maintained.
To deal with congestion, the Town of Banff is implementing a number of tactics, including:
- Promotion of free parking
With the introduction of Visitor-Pay Parking in May 2021, the Town will promote the free 9-hour parking on the periphery of downtown, such as in the Train Station Parking Lot, to reduce traffic coming into the downtown core. Visitor-pay parking in the downtown area will increase turn-over of short-term spaces.
- Cycling supports
2020 and 2021 saw a surge in cycling in Banff National Park, particularly for visitors experiencing the Bow Valley Parkway and the ever-popular Legacy Trail. Providing services to these users could improve their experience as well as encourage them to enter the downtown core. The Town will offer commercial businesses opportunities to rent bicycles in the Train Station Parking Lot, and is establishing service benches and repair stations. In addition, a bicycle lockup or "bike valet" will be established on Banff Avenue.
- Parking / Wayfinding ambassadors at the Train Station Parking Lot
Ambassadors will be stationed on weekends at the Train Station Public Parking lot to provide an additional incentive for people parked in those lots to orient themselves and obtain information.
- Increased intercept lot diversion tactics
Despite efforts to maximize the use of the Train Station intercept parking lot, occupancy at the public parking lot was observed to be below 50% for most of the summer. To enhance use of the parking lot, additional tactics include:
- Directional signage program
- Flagging at key locations
Travel time comparison on Banff Avenue
West Entrance to Downtown travel times – July long weekend through Sept long weekend
- 2022 Average Max 7.5 minutes
- 2022 Max 24 minutes
- 2019 Average Max 10 minutes
- 2019 Max 20 minutes
East Entrance to Downtown travel times – July long weekend through Sept long weekend
- 2022 Average Max 15.5 minutes
- 2022 Max 39 minutes
- 2019 Average Max 19.5 minutes
- 2019 Max 44 minutes
Rimrock to Downtown travel times – July long weekend through Sept long weekend
- 2022 Average Max 12 minutes
- 2022 Max 20.5 minutes
- 2019 Average Max 13 minutes
- 2019 Max 42 minutes
Banff is only 4 square kilometres in area. Parking is very limited and navigating will be affected by detours. Visitors to the Banff townsite should plan their route to one of the main parking lots, all within 10 minutes walking distance of the downtown core.
- If staying overnight in a hotel or camping, enter Banff at the Banff Avenue/Lake Minnewanka entrance. This is the quickest way to most hotels and the campgrounds, which offer free transit into downtown.
- If visiting Banff for the day, enter the townsite from the Mount Norquay Road entrance for quick access to the 9-hour free parking at the Train Station Parking Lot. This is an 8-minute walk to downtown, or use the free shuttle on weekends
- Use banffparking.ca to find parking lots with available spaces, costs, and the best route to the location
- The closure area has two accessible stalls which will be relocated to Wolf Street and Buffalo Street to maintain access
- Landscape planters will be installed and configured as guides to pedestrian movement, while also creating an inviting environment