Banff, AB – The Town is trialing a dedicated, two-way path northbound along Banff Avenue this fall to connect cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers to the Banff Legacy trailhead. Installation of the temporary greenway will begin the week of August 24.
A greenway for cycling and skateboarding was among the top two requests from residents during the development of the Trails Master Plan, adopted by Council earlier this year. The Town decided to trial the greenway only on Banff Avenue in response to feedback on a proposed dedicated path along Muskrat Street.
The Banff Avenue greenway will begin at the 300 block of Banff Avenue by the high school using the parking lane adjacent to the sidewalk. Traffic will merge into one lane past Moose Street, and existing on-street parking will be shifted over so the greenway remains next to the sidewalk.
While some vehicle queuing could occur, the greenway is expected to have no significant impact on traffic congestion because northbound Banff Avenue already merges into one lane past Marmot Crescent. It’s also expected to have a positive influence on vehicle speed control in town.
A dedicated greenway will keep cyclists and skateboarders off sidewalks and out of traffic, improving both motorist and pedestrian safety, along with the cycling and skateboarding experience. The trial will use approximately 22 parking stalls. Bike racks will be added at the high school, which is also the Roam regional transit stop, and wayfinding will direct users into downtown Banff on foot, or to continue their journey over the pedestrian bridge or on the Legacy Trail west via Elk Street.
Town staff studied the recently opened 12 Avenue cycle track in Calgary to develop best practices for driveways and intersections, and consulted with Parks Canada, Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission, emergency services and the school board. “We plan to open the greenway before the Labour Day weekend,” said Chad Townsend, the Town’s environmental coordinator, “to test the system with various visitor numbers and weather. We will monitor use and tweak what’s necessary to make it work better for everyone, should we trial it further in 2016.” The temporary installation will be removed in November.
The greenway will incorporate delineators, concrete barriers at intersections, road markings and signs. Much of the material can be reused if the greenway becomes permanent. Users must follow rules of the road, coming to a complete stop and giving pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks, and obeying all traffic signals. Cyclists are also asked to dismount and use the pedestrian crosswalks to fully cross Banff Avenue, rather than enter traffic.
The greenway crosses 21 driveways, most of them into multi-unit complexes, and five intersections. As with all sidewalks, motorists exiting and entering driveways and turning into intersections give right-of-way to greenway users.
Using an existing vehicle lane to create a greenway is a less costly option than the original Legacy Trail extension project approved in 2014. The original project, which would have only taken users as far as Marmot Crescent on a dedicated path, involved the expensive relocation of retaining walls and a gas line with a budget of $350,000. The greenway trial cost is $61,655 and will take users safely all the way downtown.