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An Afterthought!  A Reminder!

Why should there be physically separated bike lanes on major highways or horizontally separated bike paths on highway right-of-ways?  Why are they needed?  Why are wide shoulders not enough?

Vancouver Island rural road – Road with white edge line; shared road use; “What is the drawing power of this street for people to cycle?”
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Rural Highways and Roads

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

When discussions come forth for enhancement of cycling on rural roads for people who wish to cycle rather than drive, the dialogue invariably starts with:
Should the shoulders be paved?

Then, what should be the width of paved shoulders? – Minimal 1 metre; minimum bike lane width of 1.5 metres; more comfortable bike lane width of 1.8 metres that would attract more people to cycle; bike lane width supporting social cycling with minimum of 2.2 metres but more desirably 2.5 or 3 metres; width of 2 metres plus that would negate the wind effect on cyclists of trucks or buses passing at high highway speeds; width that would allow for cyclists’ avoidance of road dirt on shoulders caused by passing trucks, snow clearance, etc.

Should the road shoulders just be marked for cycling on the pavement or signed as a bike lane or both?  Should there just be paved shoulders with no cognitive demonstration to motorists that cyclists may be present?

Washington State Highway #90 –  Bikeway Signage; Path along the highway
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Should there be physical separation between fast-moving cars, trucks, buses and slower moving cyclists?  Then from there, the dialogue turns to what type of separation:

Province of Quebec, – Painted lines separating the two-way bike lanes from traffic
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Calgary, AB, – Buffered painted liens separating two-way bike lanes from traffic
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Should the separation simply be painting providing a virtual buffer that can be transgressed by motor vehicles poorly driven and drifting into the cycling space or used by motorists for temporary stopping or parking?

Should there be physical separation or barrier between cyclists and the rest of the road pavement users?

Should there be physical separation instead with bike paths within the road right-of-way removed from the general traffic lanes?

Should physical separation provide one-direction cycling on each side of roads or two-way cycling on one side of roads?

Instead, should there be a bike trails on their own separate right-of-ways, removed from any roads?

Urban Arterial and Other Roads

Similar discussions seem to come up for city roads, including:

Should the roadway be a shared facility with sharrow markings?

Is it enough just to put up bikeway signs on arterial, collector, and neighbourhood streets?  Sign it and people will be drawn to cycling being the operative strategy or belief.

Considerations for Rural Highways and Roads

Banff National Park of Canada; Banff Legacy Trail; From Canmore to Banff – Choice – cycle on paved, wide shoulders of the Trans-Canada Highway #1 or cycle on this bike path along the highway.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

In the discussion, there is something important missing.  What seems to be missing is a dialogue on factors that affect design that would increase cycling traffic and encourage people to leave their cars at home and do trips by cycling instead.

What seems to be missing is the dialogue on what will attract non-cyclists to move towards cycling.  What seems to be missing is translating factors that hold back people from cycling into cycling infrastructure design and network design.

Designing Infrastructure for People

Penchant for Cycling Model – Personal influences that affect the decision to cycle.
©H-JEH Becker, 2012

Personal confidence, personal propensity for risk-taking, personal considerations, personal convenience, degree of cycling skills, navigational skills, perceived cycling friendliness of roads, mechanical skills for maintaining or repairing bicycles, trip considerations, topography and environment considerations that limit attracting people to cycling are some of the factors that need to be overcome, which affect infrastructure and network designs.  Targeting a portion of drivers for potentially inducing them to cycling instead may be more fruitful rather than designing for current cyclists if the objective is to get cycling traffic activity to grow substantially.  For designing, the Maslow model of Hierarchy of Needs may be useful to keep in mind.

Maslow’s model of personal Hierarchy of Needs – A theory of self-actualization; the bottom layer of needs must be satisfied before other needs are addressed.
Model courtesy of Abraham Maslow

Influences on Cycling Infrastructure Design

Nothing fazes people more than the thought of being stranded on a highway many kilometres from civilization.  Not all people carry cell phones to call for assistance.

Trans-Canada Highway #1, Calgary to the Rockies – Rethreaded tire chunks and steel wire pieces, gravel, stones, debris, and other litter fallen off cars, trailers, and trucks on paved shoulders
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Clumps of truck tire pieces straddling road shoulders are a prime cause for cyclists being stranded, as steel pieces separating from these rethreaded tires pieces litter road shoulders.  Then, cyclists face the task of repairing a tire.  Sometimes the weather is not too kind with wind, rain, cold, or darkness posing an uncomfortable environment for the task.  Some people are not inclined to repair flats; so potential for flats is enough discouragement for cycling.

Law banning rethread tires and very frequent (weekly, at least) shoulder sweeping would reduce the probability of such flats.  Now, will this really happen in the political environment that is with us.

Trans-Canada Highway #1. Calgary to the Rockies – Wide paved shoulders.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Wide paved shoulders of 3 metres plus, lower highway speed and its observation may offset some risk as the distance that trucks hurl discarded tire pieces is dependent on vehicle speed.  Rethreaded tire garbage tends to litter highway shoulders primarily within 1.5 to 2 metres from outside lane lines.

More realistically, physical separation of cyclists and drivers is a real solution that would attract more people to cycle.  Such separation needs to be accompanied with impermeable physical barriers if cycling is right adjacent to traffic lanes or with vertical separation by distance that bike paths on road right-of-way provide.  Of course with the absence of truck traffic, bike trails eliminates the potential of flats from rethreaded tire pieces.

Rethread tires pose another danger to cyclists.  With speeds of 100 km or more being frequently undertaken by drivers, the lateral discarding of rethreaded tire pieces causes a missile effect as the pieces are dispatched to road shoulders.  Would one want to be in the way of a 100 km baseball pitch or a rethreaded tire piece?  It is bad enough to be unfortunately in the way of a rock being projected by a car, which just happened to cleanly shear off a bicycle tire stem during a steep climb.  The potential danger to cyclists during the act of a truck tire casting off a rethreaded piece is real.  Fortunately, the probability is low.  Of course, if you are unfortunate to be in the way, statistics become meaningless.  Potential cyclists seeing the highways littered with rethreaded tire and other garbage cast off by trucks, cars, and snow clearing activities is enough for some to consider cycling on these types of roads as not the thing to do.

Wind Effect on Cyclists

Highway 1A, Canmore AB – Truck traffic; wind generators; cross-winds; effect on cyclists
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

A blast of wind from a high-speed truck or bus passing by is enough to unsettle many cyclists and a discouragement for the less risk-takers to cycle on fast speed roads.  Strong cross winds can increase the intensity of the wind’s slipstream unnerving the less confident cyclists.  Sometimes, one needs to cycle towards passing vehicle to stay on the road, during very strong winds.  Otherwise, the verges will great you.  The wind envelope from large vehicles, such as trucks and buses, has been well documented but not considered in designing for cycling along high-speed roads.

Air Pollution Envelope

Trans-Canada Highway #1. Calgary to the Rockies – Wide paved shoulders; cars, buses, and trucks emitting air pollution. ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Some research has been done on the effect of poor quality air or emissions emanating from motorized vehicles on cyclists adjacent to these pollution producers.  Results has shown that cyclists are polluted less if removed from a car by a metre and more so, if farther away.  One study focused on relationship of air pollution on neighbouring streets to arterial streets and found that the pollution is less.  So, it seems that the amount of pollution present that was emitted from cars, trucks, buses, and other motorized vehicles is dependent on distance and decreases as the distance increases.  More research is required to fully understand the linearity relationship of distance and the amount of pollution absorbed, the pollution bubble.

The research supports the use of bike paths on road right-of-ways and off-road bike trails for decreasing the effect of pollution on cyclists.

Noise Pollution

In 2006, I came to realize the effect of highway noise on people.  Until then, I just saw it as undesirable noise and put it aside.  On a trip from Vancouver, B.C. to Chicago, IL, I saw the impact that noise can have on a cyclist as I watched my cycling colleague suffer with each passing truck and cars.  Noise emitted from cars, tracks, and buses has an envelope and dissipates with distance.  That noise envelope is not well understood.  There is need for clear documentation of the model. The model needs implementation with any work done on any road or any bike paths being built.  The effect of noise on people needs to be eliminated or much reduced for cycling infrastructure.  Proper application of the noise envelope will have direct impact on cycling traffic volumes.

Moving towards Wide Shoulders and Preferably to Bike Paths or Bike Trails

Interstate Highway 90 Bikeway; Spokane WA to Coeur d’Alene ID – bike path paralleling the highway; concrete barrier separation with fence.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Interstate Highway 90 Bikeway; Spokane WA to Coeur d’Alene ID – Bike path paralleling the highway
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Coeur d’Alene Trail; Plummer to Mullan, ID – A bike trial far removed from roads. ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

For highways, there are good arguments that cycling will be encouraged if wide shoulders, bike paths, or bike trails within 500 metres of the traffic lanes are provided.  Wide shoulders will only entice a smaller number of potential cyclists.    The number will grow as bike paths on road right-of-ways are provided and even more when bike trails are provided within the cycling catchment area of roads or about 500 metres.  Road garbage, wind effect, air and noise pollution will have been reduced or eliminated.  There are other justifications for physical separation and the wider separation the better.  Some of these are economic and others are local retail business contributors.

Of course, only paved paths should be considered.  Research has shown that gravel paths require 30% more energy than paved paths.  30% more energy is sufficient to dissuade many not to cycle or cut daily distances down where touring does not become feasible.

Use of Bike Paths and Bike Trails during Snow Periods

Two-way bike paths and bike trails open up the potential for increased business along the cycling facilities and their destinations during low cycling periods when the paths and trails would be covered by snow.  Snowshoeing and Nordic skiing become a use of these facilities, a tourist attraction, and reason for coming to the area.  For more remote cycling infrastructures, considerations should be given towards drawing in local economic benefits that snowmobilers bring.  Defiantly, ATV’s should not be allowed on these facilities considering their demonstrated history of destructiveness to trails.

An Afterthought, A Reminder

Trans-Canada Highway #1. Calgary to the Rockies – A parallel bike path; wide paved shoulders; cars, choice where to cycle. ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

The Banff Legacy Trail is a fine example that separation increases cycling traffic.  After all, there are excellent wide shoulders on the Trans-Canada Highway where we used to cycle on in less cycling numbers than we experience on the new trail now.

Read the blog from the beginning:

The Banff Legacy Trail, Banff National Park of Canada, Province of Alberta

 Links – Banff Legacy Trail

http://www.banff.ca/locals-residents/recreation/banff_legacy_trail.htm

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ2/Heritage-Legacy.aspx

http://actionplan.gc.ca/initiatives/eng/index.asp?mode=8&imode=7&initiativeid=129&id=4836 ) (parallels the Trans Canada Highway (Why #1) through the Banff National Park  (http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx)

 

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Not enough cycling, then continue on the Banff Legacy Trail

Vermillion Lake

Vermillion Lakes – Bear in area warning.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

The trail continues through the town on designated streets towards Mount Norquay Road and the Vermillion Lakes Road located on the west side of  Mount Norquay Road just before the ramps to the Trans-Canada Highway.  Vermillion Lakes Road dead-ends just past the lakes.  The roadway provides people a chance to see the lake, Banff on the other side of the ponds, and Mount Rundle.  Chances of spotting animals are also there.  For our trip, the Park Warden had put up “Bear in the area” warning signs.  Black or Grizzly bear was not stated, just bear.  Sorry, we did not spot one.

Vermillion Lakes Road.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Vermillion Lakes Road and Rundle Mountain.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Vermillion Lakes Road and Rundle Mountain.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 

Then the Legacy Trail continues as a bike trail connecting to the Bow Valley Parkway.

Bike path entrance from Vermillion Lakes Road to Bow Valley Parkway.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Bike path from Vermillion Lakes Road to Bow Valley Parkway; paralleling the Trans-Canada Highway.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Bike path from Vermillion Lakes Road to Bow Valley Parkway; paralleling the Trans-Canada Highway.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 

On the way to Lake Louise

The Bow Valley Parkway.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cyclists can continue to enjoy their connection with nature, the mountain scenes, and local animals by cycling the 50 kilometres to Lake Louise on this parkway.  Elks are not uncommon inhabitants along this road.  Mule and whitetail deer, wolves, coyotes, big horned sheep and mountain goats may also be seen, as was an adult ram with a nice set of horns on this trip.  Unfortunately, the moose population disappeared with a liver disease years ago.

The Bow Valley Parkway.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

With speed limited to 60 kilometres and the faster Trans-Canada Highway a couple of kilometres away, the car traffic tends to be light.  It should be noted that there are restrictions for passage on the parkway for car drivers and for cyclists depending on the time of the year as animals do feed in this area.

 
 
 

The Bow Valley Parkway.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

There are options for cyclists.  One can cycle the full way to Lake Louise and then double back or take the Trans-Canada Highway back providing a quite different view.  One can also cut over to Highway #1 at Highway #93 at Castle Mountain.  Along the way the mouse meadows, Johnston Canyon, Castle Mountain, and Baker Creek will be passed or can be places to spend sometime at.

 

After Words

Cycling back to Calgary today was a pleasant experience with a strong tailwind.  There was a long section of highway with a small upward incline.  I had stopped pedalling and still was sailing along at 24 kilometres per hour after a kilometer or two.  Now if all trips were like that, the exercise value of cycling would go down but the trip would be very enjoyable.

 

This blog will be presented in five parts and released a week apart starting with 2012-08-09.

The next blog will give some comments on the design of the trail.

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Photographs by H-JEH Becker

As mentioned in the last Banff Legacy Trail blog, this trail provides opportunities for all type, cycling skills, and age of cyclists to enjoy the wilderness along with hikers, in-line skaters and those with rollers on their skis using poles to propel them up hills.  Traffic can become heavy along the trail to a point where one wishes that the trail were wider.

The feeling, the Banff Legacy Trail

There is a wonderful feeling cycling at 1,400 metres elevation.  The air is clean and fresh.  The mountains are majestic.  Boredom is difficult to encounter.  There is a sense of separation from daily life encounters.   There is this luxury of one seeing these mountains within the mental reach of one’s mind, without the physical effort of actually climbing them.

There is a continuum of stunning views on both sides of the trail.  Cycling provides time to enjoy and take in each view, to savour it, not rushing by in a car where a one second view may all to be had.

There are resting areas along the way and opportunities for stopping and taking photographs.  There is not a shortage of subject matters from the mountains, the valley, the streams, trees, and flowers.  Even a passing railway train propelled by 4 or 5 engines and camouflaged by some trees is a picture opportunity.

There is a sensation that the scenery is being enjoyed as if one is couch-surfing rather than cycling the trail.  Now some cyclists, who use their bicycles infrequently, may not quite appreciate this feeling.  Observing the enthusiasm of the young cyclists on the trail, 8, 10, 12 years old or so, cycling here cannot be that strenuous.

The start, the Banff Park East Gate

Over the length of this ride, the elevation gain is about 30 metres overall.  However, one does need to climb about 135 metres along the way.

The hill.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

After leaving the Banff Park East Gate along this paved trail, one is quickly challenged with a climb.  The vertical elevation change is about 30 metres.  Now, I do not quite understand why there is this climb considering that families with very young children cycle here or pulling children on a trailer.  Certainly, a less demanding, lower grade path could have been built alongside the highway ditch to the top of this incline.  Coming from the west, the approach is much more doable.  Nevertheless, a climb needs to be made on bike or by pushing it up the hill.

The climb. Out of effort. Pushing the bicycle up the hill.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

The descend; a warning sign, a curve ahead.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker

A rush, crossing a creek, a kid’s dream

2349 – No bridge. A rush instead with a fast descend.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Usually, when crossing a creek, the cycling solution is to span the creek with a bridge.  Along the Legacy Trail, there is an old creek bed to cross.  Instead of a bridge, the trail designers decided to drop the trail sharply into the old creek bed.  Both the drop and the rise on the other side are steep, so steep that the speed picked up on the way down is sufficient to almost get a cyclist up to the crest on the other side without much pedaling, even in high gear.  So, to ensure that the experience crossing this depression is more exiting, the trail designers added a couple of sharp curves on the way down into the design.

 

The climb.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

A pit stop in the wilderness

Rest area; tables for relaxing.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2011

About 7 kilometres along the trail one comes upon civility with a stunning view of the mountains.  Within a treed area, the Valleyview picnic area provides tables to stop, rest, enjoy the scenery, or share some food.  Toilets are provided, as well.

Rest area; the view.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2011

The toilette house.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

One cannot get away from the mountain scenery

As one cycles towards Banff, one is always looking straight towards a mountain, while flanked by the two mountain ranges on each side.  First it is Cascadia Mountain with a peak at 2998 metres and then it is Mount Norquay, the skiing mountain, with an elevation of 2522 metres.

Wall separating Legacy Trail from the highway traffic lanes.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

At one point, the trail drops below the elevation of the highway, separated by a retaining wall.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Keeping elks and bears from cyclists

Animal control gates. Keeping animals off the highway. Cyclists passage over electrified mats.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Wildlife in the area.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

At the point where the Cascadia River crosses under the highway on the way to Lake Minnewanka, a set of gates appear.  Sometimes when we are in wilderness areas, we forget that it is ranging grounds for elks, deer, mountain sheep, bears, and other creatures.  Unfortunately, separation is required so that these creatures are not the victims of cars and trucks.  So, these gates are intended to keep animals from entering the roadway.  Hikers proceed through gates marked for them.  Cyclists proceed through a gate with a mat on the ground.  The warning signs indicate that cyclists should not stop on these electrified mats.

Lake Minnewanka or Banff

The trail to Lake Minnewanka.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cyclists have an option at this point.  They can continue to the Town of Banff or do a circular cycle passing Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake.  Big horn sheep enjoy sitting along the side of the roadway by the lake.  There is opportunity to take a tour boat down the long lake.  The cycle is pleasant with lots of climbs and descends and places to stop and picnic or rest.  One can tie up one’s bikes at a trailhead and share a walk with the sheep.  This is cougar country.

Lake Minnewanka.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2011

Lake Minnewanka Road – Big horned sheep on road.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2011

Cyclists love separation

Separation – Grass patch, a mountain always straight ahead.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

For most of the way, the Legacy Trail is set a few metres from the roadway.  For some sections, the trail is closer.  Separation may be by concrete barriers or by gravel strips.  Passage over creeks is by separate bridges with sidewalls the height of cyclists blocking crosswinds.

Separation – concrete curbs, gravel strip.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Separation – Grass strip supplemented on road bend with concrete barriers.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Separation – concrete curbs, gravel strip.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Separation on bridges with side walls almost the height of a cyclist providing crosswind protection.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

On the way back to Calgary, there was a reminder that cycling on separated paths by highways is more pleasant than cycling on road shoulders no matter how wide they are.  Certainly, the Trans-Canada Highway has wide shoulders with cycleable rumble strips.  The maintenance of the shoulders for loose gravel is not bad.  The shoulders also have pieces of rethread truck tires scattered about.  With rethread tires comes steel pieces torn from the rubber through the tire separation process.  These difficult to spot pieces are not cyclists’ friends, especially touring cyclists.  As we ended out trip, we noticed that the front tire of my partner’s bicycle was flat.  In the front tire there stuck such one of these steel pieces.  Good thing that the tire casing held the air until we reached home.  Who wants to fix a flat en route? Then, a day later, I noticed that front tire on my bicycle was now also flat. Two tires damaged by these steel pieces from cast-off rethread tire segments on the highway shoulders, just too much.

Headwinds.

The waters of the Bow Rivers descends from the Bow Glacier north of Lake Louise down this valley past Banff, Canmore, and Calgary on its way to the Arctic Ocean.  As in any valley in the Rockies, the wind tends to be predominately from the west.  So, it is natural that the cycle to Banff may take more time and effort.  One just needs to focus on the return cycle with the wind in the back and the cyclist’s body acting as a sail.

Creeks

Summer creeks; low water level; wide creek bed; glacial till.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Mountain creeks, with their little water flow in summer, cross under the Legacy Trail.  Their wide paths are littered with glacial tilt and stones.  One can easily imagine the torrential flow of water down these creeks in the springtime during snow runoff.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Hoodoos

The Hoodoos, a nature’s creation.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Mother nature likes to take time as an artist and produce impressive works of art.  So it is along this trail.  Just before the hydroelectric plant by the Cascadia River, on the east side there is a stretch of inspiring hoodoos.  Geological hoodoos are weathered rocks sculptured by the action of water, ice, and weather.

 
 
 
 

Reaching Banff

Banff AB. Banff National Park of Canada.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As the trail reaches the limits of the Town of Banff, another set of animal gates appears along with a sign indicating that animals may be present.  Then a road crossing happens with stop signs on the trail and the side road.    Finally, the separated trail ends at a bus turnaround at the town limit.

Animal control gate in Banff.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cyclists crossing an intersecting street.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Banff trailhead at the Roam, the town bus turnaround.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 

Now that you are in Banff, what next?  More on the next blog next week.

This blog will be presented in five parts and released a week apart starting with 2012-08-09. 

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The Bow River valley, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

On this early August day, another cycling touring trip into the Canmore and Banff areas is now complete as we return to Calgary.  As a cyclotourist, I find the 22 km Banff Legacy Trail as one of the finest cycling trails that I have been on.  I would place it as number one ahead of the 110 kilometres Cour d’Alene Trail in Idaho, USA and the 200 kilometres Le P’tite Train du Nord Trail in the Province of Quebec.  This later trail is part of the excellent 4.300 kilometer long La Route Verté cycling touring network, of which I have had the pleasure of cycling 3,000 kilometres.

The Cour d’Alene Trail was a subject of a previous post.  It is expected that an update post will result from cycling this trail again in September.  The Le P’tite Train du Nord Trail was also the subject of a previous post.

The later two trails are on abandoned railway lines remote from civilization and roads.  The Banff Legacy Trail is adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway from the Banff Park East Gate into the Town of Banff.

The Bow River valley with the
mountain range on the west side.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

The Bow River valley with the mountain range on the east side
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Why do I think that the shortest of these three trails takes the number one spot for me?  Simply, cycling in a narrow valley where only the Bow River and a transportation corridor runs amid and overshadowed by two, continuous Rocky Mountain ranges with peaks extending 2,500 meter and higher makes this trail special.  There in this valley, the highway, the trail, and a trans-continental rail track share the narrow space with the Bow River and then the Cascadia River.  The continuous peaks of the Rocky Mountains always just beside you and almost within arms reach so it feels, the forests, and the electrified animal gates remind you that you are in the wilderness.

Accessing the Legacy Trail

Banff Park East Gate – Eastbound Trans-Canada off-ramp; contra-flow cycling.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

In the east, a paved bike path in the Town of Canmore that parallels the Trans-Canada Highway and the Harvey Heights Road leads to the Legacy Trail.  The east off-ramp from the controlled-access Highway #1 to Harvey Heights Road is the connection to the Trail.  Cyclists are allowed to cycle contra-flow on this eastbound ramp.  A white line on one side and a yellow line on the other provide cyclists space on this lightly used ramp by cars.  Instructions for cyclists and for motorists on the use of the ramp are lacking.  So, northbound cyclists tend to use both sides of the ramp or go right down the middle, as oncoming car traffic visibility is very good.

Contra-flow cycling on the Trans-Canada Highway until the Banff Legacy Trail trailhead
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

From the ramp, contra-flow cycling for about a 100 metres on the eastbound shoulder of the Trans-Canada Highway connects one to the Trail.  For some reason, a two-metre connection from the highway shoulder to the Trail remains unpaved.

Canmore, AB – The Trans-Canada Highway; Harvey Heights Road; the adjacent bike path.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

The Town of Canmore recognizes that a more direct connection from the downtown rail-trails path is needed to this Legacy Trail.  The town already has built a number of bike paths on road right of ways and bike trails along railway lines and rivers to provide more convenient use of cycling for transportation. Bike path paralleling Harvey Heights Road.

Canmore, AB – Bike path paralleling Harvey Heights Road by the Trans-Canada Highway.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012


Canmore, AB – Bike Path along the downtown railway tracks.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Who uses the Legacy Trail?

Banff Legacy Trail. Users of the Banff Trail.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

This trail in the wilderness, connecting two towns far from any cities, still has drawing power for people from far away.  Daily cycling traffic on weekends compares well with any bike path in any city.  For this trail, traffic counts reaching 900 cyclists on a day.  This trail draws the racing and randonneuring crowd that used to use the excellent, wide shoulders on the highway, the touring cyclists, the weekend and day trippers, as well as the commuter cyclists that live in one of the towns and work in the other.  The trail draws families with children in tow in a trailer or with 10 year olds pedalling their own bicycles.

The trail satisfies the need of the serious cyclists and those out for a simple cycle to enjoy the wilderness scene, the birds singing, birds souring above, with a hope that a wild animal may be spotted.

Banff National Park of Canada. Car parking at the Banff Park East Gate
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

For those driving up from Calgary or other towns for the day to use the trail, some park their vehicles on parking lots along the Harvey Heights Road bike path, while others park in front of the Banff Park East Gate.

Town of Canmore, AB. Harvey Heights Road bike path parking areas.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Canmore is a mountain bike and Nordic skiing town nestled between two Rocky Mountain ranges with a network of hiking trail.  Banff, as we know, is a jewel in this national park with multiple of trails for all users and a skiing centre.  There is another trail connecting the two towns for mountain bikers and hiker along the Spray River.

Town of Canmore. A training ground for potential mountain bikers, the young, the not so young.
Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Needless to say, bicycle rental stores in each town are busy supplying bicycles to tourists.

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

This blog will be presented in five parts and released a week apart starting with 2012-08-09.

The next blog in this series will take you down the Banff Legacy Trail

Links – Banff Legacy Trail

http://www.banff.ca/locals-residents/recreation/banff_legacy_trail.htm

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ2/Heritage-Legacy.aspx

http://actionplan.gc.ca/initiatives/eng/index.asp?mode=8&imode=7&initiativeid=129&id=4836 ) (parallels the Trans Canada Highway (Why #1) through the Banff National Park  (http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx)

 

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