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©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

The distance from Vancouver BC to Seattle WA is about 230 km from downtown to downtown along major roads, expressway and interstate highway. Is it a dream that some day there may be a separated route for cyclists to make this journey?

Cycling from Toronto to Montreal can be done along the Waterfront Trail. These cities are about 550 kilometres apart. The trip can be cycled in 3 days to 5 days depending on one’s personal stamina. The trail has various forms of separation along the way including bike lanes and paved shoulders along with some minor roads with very light car traffic. The Province of Québec’s portion is on one of the La Route Verte’s routes.

A trail has been developed from London, England top Paris, France with the same type of infrastructure and a ferry crossing of the English Channel.

So, is it a dream to hope for a separated trail between Vancouver and Seattle or is it an emerging reality? While it may be more distance between the two cities by cycling than driving, already 40% of the direct distance has bike trails and additional distance can be covered on roads with bike-lanes and paved shoulders.

If one decides on the Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC option, then the Anacortes Bike Route and the Lochside trail provides additional separated bike trail distances.

There is still 2.3 km of rail-trail to be completed on the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County. In Vancouver, cycling enthusiasts are calling for the development of the Arbutus rail-trail that would connect downtown to the bike path on the Canada Line Bridge to Richmond. Within Richmond, there is opportunity to extend the Shell Trail. In Surrey, a bike path through a bird sanctuary could be added to a cycling route reducing the distance on roads. There is work being done with First Nations and the local city on developing a trail from Blaine to Tsawwassen to Ladner and the George Massey Tunnel. All of these initiatives would move closer to the dream.

What other developments or cycling advocate visions are there to make a separated bike route between these two cities a reality, providing a cycling option for people of all ages, abilities, and cycling risk-taking?

The dream lives on while some trips between these two cities are being completed by cycling or by combined mobility trips using Amtrak Cascadia trains with its bike racks in the luggage cars and with reservable bike space. No longer is boxing a bike required on these trains. Just wheel your bicycle up to the luggage car and let the car attendant put it into a bike rack.

Read more….

H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013, unless otherwise noted. If you wish to expand the size of any image, then click on the image.

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Banff Legacy Trail – Part 4

 

© H-JEH (Jack) Becker, Third Wave Cycling Group Inc. 2007-2012, Velo.Urbanism, cycling planning, policy, and social marketing consultant, 20 year advocate for balanced transportation modes within cities focusing on cycling and transit.

The comments in this article come from a touring and commuter cyclist where the bicycle and combined mobility with cycling are the first choices of transportation.  The comments reflect the experience and observations gained while cyclotouring where now the 100,000 kilometres mark is being approached on trips 4 days and longer up to 11 months.  In addition, many thousands of kilometres have been cycled on weekend exploring trips and on day tripping.  These trips may be done solely by cycling or combined with other modes of travel including air, trains, buses, ferries, and on some occasions, including cars. 

As this blog is being posted, the writer is on a two and a half month cyclotouring trip.  A couple of days ago, a 2,025 metres high mountain pass was traversed, a personal high, followed by a modest 1,225 metres pass today with a 1,400 metres pass coming up in two days.

This year, the 21-year-old Miyata 1000 touring bicycle was retired for one with disk brakes for cycling through mountain ranges, a Salsa Fargo 2 bicycle.  A Dahon touring folding bicycle is usually used when planes, trains, buses, and ferries or European hotel elevators are involved on trips.

 
 

Some Thoughts on the Design of the Banff Legacy Trail

 

Arriving in Canmore by bus with bicycle.©Photograph by H-JEH Becker
As mentioned in an earlier blog, this bike path is excellent in drawing people to come and cycle in the wilderness.  The path alignment and design is attracting cyclists who used to cycle on the paved shoulders of the highway.  The path also draws tourist staying at Canmore or Banff to rent bicycles and use the trail.  The path also draws families from Southern Alberta to spend a day cycling here.

Even good bicycle paths can attract comments and suggestions for improvements and so here are mine.

 
 

1 – Wayfinding

 

Connecting to Trail

Banff trailhead at the town bus loop.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

On trips, cyclists want to know where they are, where they should go next, and how afar they need to go.   To break the routine of long trips, information on highlights along the route and on the lands being traversed is always welcome.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Connecting to the Trail – Canmore

On approaching Canmore either from Trans-Canada Highway #1 or from my preferred approach on Highway #1 A, finding the Banff Legacy Trail is not very evident.  Canmore has two off-road bike routes of which neither is identified on the approaching highways.  On these routes, there are no signs to connect to the Legacy Trail.  There are no maps signs to provide direction.  There is no signage such as those that we are used to in Europe.  There is no cycling by numbers or knooppuntroutes (node points) to lead you to the trail.

So, finding the Canmore bike routes is a matter of searching or good judgment.  One bike path parallels the highway while the bike trail is adjacent to the railway track in town.  How to find them?  Canmore can do much to improve wayfinding.

 

Connecting to the Trail – Harvey Heights

Southbound off ramp from the Trans-Canda Highway with provision for contra-flow cycling to the Banff Legacy Trail. No signage or map advising cyclists to use ramp to connect to trail. Which side to ramp to use – Stay left of yellow line?
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

 

Southbound off ramp from the Trans-Canda Highway with provision for contra-flow cycling to the Banff Legacy Trail. No signage or map advising cyclists to use ramp to connect to trail. Which side to ramp to use – Stay left of white edge line?
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker


 
 

 
 

 
 

Coming to the northern end of a bike path along the Harvey Heights and Highway #1 roads, you are left with choice and no help.  There are no maps to direct you to the Banff Legacy Trail.  There are no signs.  So, proceed onto Highway #1 northbound, proceed to the park gates, and then cross over the many traffic lanes to reach the trail?  So instead, cycle contra-flow on the southbound off-ramp leading to the Harvey Heights Road.  Who would do that?  Well, the people who have found direction in other places and are aware that this is the way to go.  The ramp has a white line on the right side and a yellow line on the other side.  So, which side to take?  Which side should one cycle in the contra-flow direction?

Then as the ramp approaches the highway, there are no signs indicating that there is two-way cycling on the shoulder for either the cyclists or the motorists.

Contra-flow cycling on the Trans-Canada Highway with no awareness signs for motorists or cyclists.©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Contra-flow cycling on the southbound Trans-Canada Highway lanes connecting to the Banff Legacy Trail. No awareness signage advising cyclists and motorists of the contra-flow cycling.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

Then there is the entrance to the Legacy Trail.  Where is the signage to indicate to cyclists to descend down the small drop to the left and then turn right onto the trail?

There is a fantastic opportunity to simplify finding the trail and make infrequent and other cyclists more comfortable and secure on finding their way.

 

On the Way – Lake Minnewanka

 

A few kilometres from Banff there is a cutoff to Lake Minnewanka.  Wayfinding would be very beneficial at this junction for highlighting cycling options the roads to Lake Minnewanka and Two Jacks Lake provide.  For information and for generating more cycling interest and traffic, wayfinding signage would be a good addition to the trail.

The Lake Minnewanka area provides plenty of choice for cyclists from just cycling the road to wandering down one of the trails, to taking a tourist boat on the long lake, to camping on one of the many sites, to enjoy watching wildlife grazing on the roadside or walking on the trails.

Connecting to the Trail – Banff

 

Arriving at Banff, the trail map indicates a route through the town and then connecting to the Bow Valley Parkway.  None of this is evident at the trailhead or on the roads identified on the map.  Wayfinding, map signs, bike route signs, and street marking (bike lanes, sharrows, white edge lines) would provide clear direction for cyclists and, at the same time, highlight to motorists of the presence of cyclists on the roads.

Wayfinding and signage should ensure that cyclists knows where cyclists are geographically at any time, that cyclists are heading in their desired directions, that cyclists are aware of any conditions ahead that requires special attention, and that cyclists becomes aware of any special interest along routes.  Cyclists should never be confused, hesitate, or uncertain as to where one should be cycling.  Road signs should provide destination, direction, distance, travel time, information, and warnings in a timely manner.

Wayfinding should be focused on potential cyclists especially those with high desire for risk aversion and limited propensity for cycling.  Wayfinding should appeal and be understandable to young children.  Wayfinding should also be supportive of seniors cycling, especially readable by senior cyclists with reducing eyesight.  Wayfinding should be readable far enough away to make a decision and take corrective action.  Wayfinding should be supportive of a country changing in cultural background with a large new landed immigrant status. Wayfinding should pass the test of supporting a significant growth in cycling traffic.

A comprehensive set of road signage should heighten cyclists’ comfort on the road and encourage people to cycle as a means of transportation.   Besides supporting growth of cycling, local businesses along a trail, their towns and their inhabitants will also benefit.

 

2 – Trail Alignment

Images – Topography and Terrain Alignment

On the way to Banff
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Water tower at an electric power dam in the distance.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 


 


 


 

It is all about aligning a trail to maximize the attraction to cyclists, including those who cycle today and those who can be induced to cycle, thus maximize the cycling traffic volumes.  The market for this trail includes Banff to Canmore commuters, visitors to the park, and day-trippers from Calgary and other municipalities within a day driving distance.

The Legacy Trail seems to be laid out sensitive to the topography and the terrain adjacent to the highway.  Unlike the roadway where the terrain was changed to accommodate the highway, the trail is ribboned up and down the terrain, in between and round trees, and squeezed in between adjacent rivers and the road.

From a cyclotouring perspective, the trail alignment provides a variety of experiences, including trains passing by.

The trail alignment results in a variety of separations with distances from as little as a half metre to a distance where car traffic becomes a hum.  Forms of separation come from simple techniques such as gravel or grass, vertical elevation, and physical barriers, such as concrete barriers.  Over bridges, wind protection for cyclists is provided by high barriers.

Images – Separation – horizontal, vertical, physical, virtual, distance from traffic lanes.

Metre separation
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Bridge providing wind break for cyclists.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Trail wanders into a bush. Vertical and horizontal separation
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Two metres plus physical separation with concrete barriers.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Narrow separation with physical barriers.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

A metre separation with a physical barrier.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Physical separation.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

A wider separation – horizontal and vertical, diminishing the effects of air and noise pollution and wind effect from fast travelling trucks and buses. ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 


 


 

Of course, the forms of separation along the Banff Legacy Trail have appeal to potential users of this trail.  Observing cycling traffic, it is very apparent that parents are quite willing to let young children, some just able to be on bicycles or tricycles, cycle freely in front of them.

Trail design should focus on the impact that the trail will have in encouraging people to cycle between destination rather than driving, especially in parks designed to keep the lands natural.

Alignment of trails need to consider air and noise pollution on cyclists, as well as, the effect of winds and drafts from vehicles on keeping cyclists comfortable and secure.  More later on this.

 

3 – Trail Amenities – CycloTourists Convenience – facilities

Time for a convenience stop.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Time to relax and enjoy the mountains.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

The trail has a convenience stop approximately near the middle, which is much appreciated.  What about at each end?  Designing a trail for seniors should consider facilities about every half hour of cycling especially for the first hour and a half into a trip.

 
 

4 – Trail Traffic Capacity – width

 

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Designing roads for cars and trucks, future volume projections are taken into consideration.  The same methodology does not seem to be used by professionals when designing cycling facilities.  Even the width of this facility is not sufficient and running out of capacity after a year of operation, considering the needs of the cyclists using the trail and people walking.

 
 

5 – Trail Grade

 

The thrill of a fast descent. What about icy days?
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Maybe a bridge bypass would attract the risk averts.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

For some, cycling up the steep incline is good exercise. For others, pushing a bike up is more the likely case. What about the young children on bicycles? What about parents pulling children trailers? An alternative on the embankment at a moderate grade would be appealing to many.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Cyclists are sensitive to road grade, especially parts of the market made up of infrequent or potentially new cyclists and tourists wanting a local experience.  Considering their body conditioning for cycling and hill climbing, this cycling market place is sensitive to the amount of energy required to cycle trails.  Both grade and pavement of a trail become important considerations. Experience with cycling growth in the Netherlands and the appeal of the Le Petit Train du Nord trail in Quebec would indicate the attractiveness of low grades peaking at 3% or 4%.

Considering that this trail is intended to appeal to families with small children, park users, and tourists, it is quite difficult to understand the trail alignment just after the Banff Park Gate at the Canmore end.  Suddenly, the trail does an s-curve as it climbs at a 12% grade.  Who expects children and infrequent cyclists to make this climb when more seasoned and conditioned cyclists get off their bikes and walk the last few metres?

Instead, the trail should have been aliened at a 3% or 4% grade along the road embankment.  Leave the steep climb alignment for those who want that type of experience and have a moderate graded trail option for 6-year-old children on bicycles or for parents pulling their children in trailers.


Trail Surfacing

This trail is surfaced by asphalt extending the season that the trail can be used.  Water on gravel trails, both from rain and winter precipitation, will encourage people to stay on the neighbouring highway shoulders and discourage people who cycle less frequently from using the trail.

 
 

6 – Pollution Abatement for Cyclists

 

Lessening the impact of motor vehicle pollution on cyclists – separation.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

 
 


 


 

Pollution Envelope – Car and Truck Emissions – Air and Greenhouse Gases

 

Cars and trucks pollution emissions dissipate with distance.  In essence, there is a pollution envelope around these vehicles.  The farther that cyclists are removed from the source of pollution, the less impact on them.  Studies have been done to start defining these envelopes.  More studies are needed before the envelopes are well enough defined for designing the alignment of cycling facilities, which minimize impact on cyclists.  From the research that has been done, we know that bike paths two metres away from traffic lanes is better than one metre.  Three and more metres are of course better than one or two.

 

Noise Pollution Effect on Cyclists’

 

On a trip from Vancouver to Chicago with a colleague I became aware of the severe impact that noise pollution can have on people.  Apparently, as one ages the effect becomes greater.  While the noise pollution envelope is not well defined for alignment of cycling facilities, the greater the distance between traffic lanes and cyclists, the more appeal the facilities will have to draw cyclists.

 

Wind Effect

 

Getting caught in the draft of a fast moving truck or bus can be unnerving for less experienced cyclists and even the more risk-taking.  Nothing like having to steer a bicycle into the direction of buses or trucks to compensate for draft after these vehicles pass and strong crosswinds takes hold of cyclists going down a steep grade at fast speed or cycling on more level terrain.  Quite a distractor for the uncommitted cyclists.

Wind effects of moving vehicles including buses and large trucks has been researched and documented.  Location of cycling facilities, such as this trail, need to consider the wind envelopes under different wind situations, including crosswinds.  For simple winds, a minimum separation of two metres should be provided.  For crosswinds the separation should increase or double, at least.

 
 

7 – Electrical Gates

 

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker

Keeping wildlife off the highway has been a preoccupation of this park for the last decade or two while still facilitating migration from one side of the highway to the other.  So, with this trail Canada Parks had to come up with a scheme to keep wildlife off the trail while still allowing easy passage of cyclists and walkers.  For this purpose, electrical gates were installed at two locations.  Walkers’ passage is through gates that they open manually.  Cyclists are greeted with signs indicating that they should not stop on electrical pads lying on the asphalt surface at gates that are kept open for their passage.  The system seems to work well as cyclists just need to slow down through the gates.

At the Lake Minnewanka cutoff, the locations of the gates are in a dip that affects two-way flow.  Gates at the top of the dip would have been more efficient from a cycling perspective.  The rational for their current location is not known.

 

 
 

The Banff Legacy Trail – Part 5, “An Afterthought” National Park of Canada, Province of Alberta

 

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

The next blog will give an afterthought on the attraction of bike paths (on rural highways) and on bike trails, rather than bike lanes or wide shoulders for cycling on highways.

https://thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/ banff-legacy-trail-t…y-trail-part-5

 
 

Read the blog from the beginning:

 

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

 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 #1 through the Banff National Park)  http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx

 
 

Other Links

 

Knooppuntroutes – http://www.cycletourer.co.uk/cycletouring/holland.shtml

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