We’ve considered this idea, but Banff’s existing road configuration leading to the Bow River Bridge makes it difficult. There is no location near the point of intervention (i.e., the bridge) with ample storage and easy access for vehicles to wait until there is capacity at the south side parking lots, and there are very limited opportunities for vehicles to turn around before the bridge. In addition to the logistical difficulties, the businesses on the south side of the Bow River have expressed concern regarding the potential negative effects of limited access to their business.
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.