Archive for the ‘cycling infrastructure’ Category

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://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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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



Links – Banff Legacy Trail




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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2012-06-01 Version

© H-JEH (Jack) Becker, Third Wave Cycling Group Inc. 2007-2012., Velo.Urbanism 2012

The City of Vancouver’s draft Transportation Plan 2040 contains some interesting strategic directions which will further the use of Active Transportation modes of travel while decreasing the dependency on car use.

Vancouver; TransLink; SkyTrain
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2010

Vancouver; Dunsmuir St. Separated BIke Lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Vancouver; TransLink; Bicycles on Bus
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Vancouver; TransLink; Bicycles on Canada Line
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Now, if one steps away from the details of the plan and views the document from a macro point of view, then the plan feels like an incremental step forward from the past rather than a dramatic change in the way we travel in the next 30 years.  At this point in time, a dramatic change in travel is what we need, not crawling forward at past speeds.  Why is a dramatic change in the way we travel now needed?  Well, all the rational has well been debated from the desire of the residents of Vancouver for improved air and noise quality, personal health issues, growth of obesity and the contribution to that from modes of travel, health care cost, and so on.

The Draft Transportation Plan feels like a technical document, not a change agent paper.  There is a lack of a new vision in the document for transportation and for transportation’s role in creating a liveable, green, sustainable city community which has vitality and spirit that people can see, feel, buy into, and get inspired by.  There is a lack of connectivity of this draft document to the vision of the city and its key strategies that will make this plan’s contribution to move the city towards realizing that vision.

Perusing the many strategic directions for the modes of transportation in the document, some thoughts for additional strategic directions come to mind that may be worth considering:

In addition to focusing on directions for growing each mode of transportation, some strategies should concentrate on people and persuading them to make modal shifts to active transportation options.  One could argue that a strategy focusing on people and inducing mode shift could be the key strategy for a transportation plan.

In this article, the phrase “active transportation” includes walking, cycling, transit, and other modes that travel at the speed of walking or cycling (wheelchairs, skateboarding, in-line skating, etc.).

Streetscape – Toronto retail and commercial street, streetcar, bike parking – post and ring
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Nice Fr, Automatic bollards control car and truck access to walking street
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Strasbourg Fr; Asymmetrical street; traffic lane; tram; cycling lane; sidewalks
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Proposal for an Overriding Strategy for the Transportation Plan 2040

The Transportation Plan 2040 and its recommended infrastructure, toolkits, services, and programs shall be focused on social marketing of the preferred modes of transportation, be focused on reaching the plan’s target transportation mode shares, be contributing to reaching the stated city direction to be the greenest city in the world, meet the Kyoto commitment, and be a contributor to achieving a true green, sustainable, and vibrant city.   The implementation of the plan, including infrastructure, its design, and programs, shall focus on a target market and the customers of that market who need to be induced by alternate transportation modes to meet the city’s vision of a sustainable city and a world leader.

Streetscape – Nice Fr; Asymmetrical street; tram; traffic lanes; sidewalk
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Strasbourg Fr; Two-way cycling track in the middle of the road ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Madrid Spain; Traffic lanes; separated two-way bike lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

For modal conversion to occur, motorists will need to have alternate forms of transportation available and to their liking for the Transportation Plan 2040 to be successful.  For growing suburbs and non-central core densification, it is highly desirable for active transportation options to be in place before decisions for home purchase are made.  Does one buy a car and a home or does one decide to use active transportation and have more money that normally would go to car driving and ownership be available for home purchase?  That is the choice for home purchasers when active transportation options are in place.  When not, what choice is there but to commute by car?

With a population expansion within any parts of a city, there is criticism of congestion.  The first choice option for congestion relieve for cities is to put in more road capacity.  As we know, road capacity expansion will only provide short-term congestion relieve.  If the city wants to be truly a green city, then it makes good sense to put active transportation measures in place, determine its impact on road congestion, consider if the level of road congestion is desirable to support use of active transportation, and then decide if road expansion is really necessary.

Strategy – Mobility Management – Transportation Demand Management

Active Transportation alternatives will be implemented and in operation for a minimum two years in any corridor before any assessment is made for increasing road capacity for cars and trucks, from simple improvements such as left or right turn lanes to additional lane capacity.

Streetscape – Madrid, Spain; Cycling and pedestrian lane
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Save for lack of personal financial resources, people will not make modal changes unless the alternative makes sense to them, fits in their lifestyles, are socially acceptable, does not impose an unreasonable discomfort, and the facilities are to their personal liking.  So, it makes sense to choose and focus on a target market and its customers and design for them very specifically, rather than follow some design manuals.  Target marketing versus the shotgun marketing approach to design of infrastructure facilities and cycling network should result in significant cycling traffic growth.

Strategy – Infrastructure Design

Designs shall meet the needs of people from the young to the seniors (8-to-80 or AAA concepts) and shall be specifically focused on the needs of the target market of customers (i.e. motorists that are open to change in transportation modes) that will need to be induced to use active transportation alternatives for the targets for transportation mode shares to be achieved.

Nice Fr – Other users of cycling infrastructure
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Toronto – Other bike trail users – People in wheelchairs
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Nice Fr – Cyclist, Shopping by Bicycle
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Nice Fr – Cyclist, Father and child
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Real growth of active transportation will be enhanced through change-inducing statements from traditional practices, rather than incremental enhancements of past practices.  Bold, clear statements that signal rapid change will result in creative solutions that residents of the city will see as explicit signals that modal change needs to happen and that they need to play an active part in making it happen.

Concepts that should be included in this plan:

People Street – Madrid, Spain – Late night shopping; some 24 hour stores; car and delivery access until 11:00am
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Walking – Direction should include a statement that the walking infrastructure and its support facilities (audible signals, signage, wayfinding, etc.) shall meet the needs of both the young and the seniors, who may have visual, balance, navigational, motor skills or other limitations.

Streetscape – Making cyclists movement through intersection highly visible to other road users, especially to motorists with closely placed sharrows©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Cycling – Market segmentation shall identify the characteristics of potential cycling customers.  Infrastructure design and social marketing programs shall focus on the needs of the target market segments and induce them to use cycling as part of their transportation options.

Streetscape – Two-way tram line on sunny side of retail street. Cyclists and trams co-exist. Nice Fr.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Cyclists and trams share the tram lines; Nice Fr;
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Cordoba, Spain; Separated lanes – cycling, bus, traffic lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Transit – Work towards an effective transit system with service levels that will attract people away from using their cars.  Work towards a city being served by a full complement of transit layers, including streetcars / trams, maximizing the appeal of transit to the public.  Work towards maximizing the transit ridership growth opportunity through combined mobility strategies, infrastructure, and social marketing programs (transit and cycling).  Improve the quality of the air in the city and control of noise pollution with a 100% electric-powered bus and commuter train system.

Streetscape – On retail street; wide sidewalks; two-way tram lines; one-way shared lane for cars and bicycles, and limited car parking; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Asymmetrical street layout – Grouping modes together. Car parking on one side of street; two-way car lanes with median; two-way tram lines; Sidewalks on each side of street
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Motor Vehicles – The city shall remove itself from a non-essential city service of providing on-road and off-road car parking and reduce its road maintenance costs in the process, considering that there is private sector capability to provide such services from land owners, developers, residential complexes, private home owners and potential new entrants such as car parking condos for neighbourhoods.  City shall separate the sale of parking spaces in residential and commercial buildings from the sale of home and office units.  The city shall support such a separation by applying and invoicing municipal taxes separately for homes and offices and for car parking spaces.  City shall implement bylaws, which allows unused car parking spaces in residential and commercial buildings to be rented out for short-term parking and potentially long-term parking if short-term parking demand has been satisfied.

Streetscape – Strasbourg Fr; Asymmetric street with tram
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – People streets with restricted car and truck movement for designated hours each day; Bollards on edge of sidewalks restricting car and truck parking. Avignon, Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

People Street – Avignon, Fr; Bollards control motorized traffic on streets, including a local bus
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Car and truck traffic flow on street controlled with automatic bollards at intersection; Local residents and other approved vehicles can lower bollards allowing entrance; Dijon Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Land Use – Integrate transportation planning with land use, urban planning, urban form, and zoning bylaws through zoning densification levels in each neighbourhood along all corridors generating sufficient traffic for quality active transportation modes thus allowing active transportation facilities and services to be implemented on an economic case basis.

Streetscape – A shopping people street; Nice Fr.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – People street and the shoppers; Mom on VeloBlue public share bicycle; child on her own bicycle; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Early morning on a shopping, people street; Bollards restricting car and truck parking on the sidewalks; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Local farmers market on a people street; Merchants ready for the day’s business; Dijon Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Farmers market on a local street with a bike lane; Dijon Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Streetscape – The Transportation Plan should include a vision and strategy for people streets where car and truck access is managed and controlled to time of day for delivery of goods, municipal and emergency street services, transit, and local residents.

Transportation Plan 2040 Section on Cycling

The opening statement should include “and support significant cycling traffic growth by inducing people not to drive and use cycling or combined mobility of cycling and transit instead”.

Key Strategic Directions for Cycling

Want significant cycling traffic and use growth? Want continued snail-pace, incremental growth for the future?
If significant growth of cycling traffic is desired, then bold statements and bold visions are needed.  Paving the way for this level of growth requires strategic direction statements for:

The first policy should address a rapid implementation (5 year) of a high-quality cycling network, city-wide, to determine the amount of modal conversion from driving that can be achieved and to allow for wiser investment in road infrastructure for car traffic in the future.

The second policy should address the focus of infrastructure, network, infrastructure toolkit, network toolkit, and social marketing that would appeal to motorists to cycle instead, including combined mobility.

The third policy should call for quality, physical separation of cyclists and motorists (with barriers, not paint, thus  preventing cars and trucks from using cycling facilities) that would induce motorists to cycle instead.

Public bike sharing system station located by the entrance to a hotel and a performance centre; Toronto Bixi System
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

VeloBlue public bike sharing system; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

The fourth policy should address the role of public bike sharing system in advancing cycling and cycling-transit usage.  The role should be directed to expansion of public bike sharing systems beyond the current model and usage.

The network policy should call for feeder networks from home to schools, transit facilities, shopping areas, and other destinations.  Provide suburban neighbourhoods the feeling of cycling that one gets when cycling along a seaside bike trail or on abandoned or operational railway lines.  This policy should also include providing seaside path type of facilities on interior local roadways, separated cycling facilities along retail streets, and separated cycling facilities along any roads adjacent to rapid transit lines (existing and new).

In general, the policy statements in the Transportation Plan 2040 document are very lightweight, not exemplary of a pacesetter city, and more indicative of a follower city content to be positioned behind American cities with little cycling enthusiasm.

Each municipality needs to make a decision. If that decision is to move towards Active Transportation and away from cars as the primary forms of transportation, then bold, visionary, leadership statements and strategic directions are needed.  As they say – no pain, no gain.  If no gain, then pain as personal health care issues continue to climb quickly, along with the tax burden that each person carries for maintenance of the health care system.

Some comments on the City of Vancouver’s initial draft of its Transportation 2040 Plan and the proposed Transportation Mode Share Targets

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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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The City of Vancouver has released an initial draft of its Transportation 2040 Plan for public consideration. Within the plan, the city spells out its transportation mode priority for the next 30 years and its target mode share.

At the recent Velo-city Global 2012 Conference on cycling, international experts called the city’s cycling component of the plan and its target as too slow and not enough. Experts from around the world sensed that the next growth in cycling and attracting motorists to use cycling for transportation will come from physically separated bike lanes and from combined mobility trips of cycling and transit.

Cycling growth in the City of Vancouver has been very slow. From 1991, the mode share has climbed from 1.3% to 3.8% or 0.114% per year while Copenhagen has increased cycling by 4% in two years and Seville has increased it by 4.5% in 5 years.

The City is proposing that the target cycling mode share for the next 30 years should show growth of 3.2% from the current 3.8% level to 7%. With this target the growth rate will continue to remain slow at 0.11% per year. This growth rate is certainly not at a pace of a world-class green city. This growth is more like that of a follower city. One Transportation Planning Manager was trying to placate an audience at a consultation session by stating that the City normally reaches targets very early in its transportation plans lifecycle. Well, the question may be asked to the value of a target if it can be easily met rather than be challenging for city staff and the public and also be a signal of change in how we travel.

Transportation Plan 2040, City of Vancouver, June, 2012


The city wants to be the greenest city in the world and has committed to achieving the Kyoto protocol calling for reduction in greenhouse gases to 6% less than the 1990 level. Basically, the Kyoto commitment means that all trips originating from population growth must be by active transportation modes, not by car.

Future cycling growth will need to come from those who drive today. The easy growth has been realized. Now is the time to shift into social marketing of cycling. Social marketing will not be effective unless a robust and highly desirable cycling infrastructure is in place. With the city’s desires and with the strong commitment from the public to the greenest city and Kyoto goals, it might be appropriate to adopt more challenging transportation mode share.

An aggressive set of transportation mode share targets will contribute towards this city to becoming a world-class green city, reducing air and noise pollution, helping improve individual health, and reducing the associated health care costs. Guided by the City’s gains in reduction of car trips within the downtown core and accomplishments of other cities in reducing driving and increasing cycling, consideration should be given to adopting aggressive targets for the 2040 transportation mode shares. Transportation mode share is usually defined by driving, transit, walking, cycling, and by others. For more effective direction of future efforts, a more detailed set of targets may be appropriate. Also, the current set of targets understates the use of each mode, as combined trips are not accounted fully in the statistics.

The accomplishments of other cycling-active cities and of the City of Vancouver in the downtown core would suggest a set of appropriate transportation mode share targets of:

  • Walking                             17%

Walking to transit stops >450 metres                      3%

  • Cycling                                20%
  • Transit                                20%
  • Combined Mobility               15%

Transit and Cycling – Personal bicycle                      7%
Transit and Cycling – Public Bike Share System       3%
Driving and Cycling – Personal Bicycle                     4%
Driving and Cycling – Public Bike Share System       1%

  • Car                                     27%

Driver                                                                   24%
Passenger                                                               3%

  • Other                                   1%

With this set of mode share targets, cycling would be involved in 35% of all trips, transit in 30%, and car trips in 32%.

With aggressive targets, staff has clear direction on strategies and speed of implementation for realizing the next transportation plan.

Some comments on the City of Vancouver’s initial draft of its Transportation 2040 Plan will be published on August 26, 2012. 

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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://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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H-JEH (Jack) Becker
Third Wave Cycling Group Inc., 2012-05-13

A recent radio interview highlighted the timeliness for Calgarians to have a comprehensive dialogue on separated bike lanes (SBL), especially local cycling advocates and those interested in better cycling facilities. The dialogue should start with the question of why have SBL and then continue into concepts and designs, fit into local streetscape and urban form.  Then the dialogue must include how SBL contributes to local business and to the city as a whole.

Separated bike lanes have been shown to be successful in instigating a shift from driving to cycling. It is a tool that comes in many configurations of designs and fit into local urban form. The type chosen has a direct impact on the degree of local acceptance and of success in increasing cycling.

So, what types of separated bike lanes do Calgarians want? Some of the dialogue should cover

  • Cycling traffic capacity

How wide should the separated bike lanes be?  Well, first it should be established what the objectives for the SBL should be.  Is it for the convenience of current cyclists?  Is it to provide capacity to meet natural cycling traffic growth or the city’s future cycling mode share targets?  Is it part of a city reshaping itself into a large city or world-class city form, instead of a sprawling metropolis?  What current barriers are hindering cycling growth that could be accommodated with SBL?  What human characteristic could be designed into SBL to cause significant growth?

Acceptance of SBL is greater by cyclists and by potential cyclists if they could see efficient trip time.  One of the factors, capacity to pass slower cyclists, is key.  The next big step into cycling growth is to move away from solitary cycling to accommodating social cycling of two people side-by-side deep into discussion.  Intersection passage time is also key.

  • Forms of separation

Generally, separated bike lanes comes in various forms of separation from vertical to horizontal, at general traffic lane level, on sidewalk elevation, outside of road right-of-ways, etc.  Separation comes in many forms from virtual where drivers’ observance of painted lines provides the separation to physical through various forms of barriers that will have negative effect on cars if drivers were not to observe the barriers.

Physical separation can be provided at various cost levels from minimal to sophisticated separation designs that fits well into urban and streetscape forms.

Observations of various forms of SBL in cities within Europe and North America indicate the need for physical separation where cars, trucks, and motorcycles are prevented from entering into bike lanes.

With virtual separation (painted lines or buffers) and half curb height separation (Copenhagen style), it is only driver decency that causes the bike lanes not to be used for passing motorized vehicles stopped for a turn, overtaken a slower vehicle, or parking, especially by delivery vehicles. Even car entry into bike lanes needs to be prevented for such bike lanes not to become parking lanes.  However, the form of separation should allow police and other emergency vehicles to use the lanes to efficiently get by street traffic.  This also tends to encourage width of bike lanes to accommodate a police vehicle and a cyclist.

  • Two-way bike lanes versus one way

A dialogue on this subject usually gets around to selection of one-way separated bike lanes on the same or adjacent streets to the use of two-way bike lanes.  There are many arguments that can be made for either solution that would better fit the needs of cyclists, motorists on the streets, local businesses, and urban and streetscape form.

Two-way separated bike lanes are self-levellers of traffic accommodating cycling traffic jams and supporting social cycling.  Bringing together into one space cyclists going both ways, the presence of cyclists on the road is much more evident to motorists, a bit of a marketing tool.  Motorists will see the lanes actually being used and become more aware that their driving style needs to adjust accordingly.  Another important benefit is the reduction of potential cross traffic of cyclists and motorists, limiting that to one side of a street.

  • Which side of road

One-Way Bike Lanes

Should two one-way bike lanes be located on one road, no matter if one of the lanes is contraflow or be placed on two neighbouring roads?

Two-Way Bike Lanes

Location of two-way bike lanes should recognize night cycling and the effect of car headlights shining into cyclists’ eyes with overhead lights often being too weak in intensity to overcome cyclists’ blindness or blocked out by tree leaves making sidewalk curbs or separation barriers difficult to be seen by cyclists.

Two-way bike lanes should be positioned on the roadway with direction of flow of cyclists and adjacent car traffic being in the same direction.  This will place contra-flow cyclists horizontally farther away from the headlights of cars moving in the opposite direction lessening light impact on cyclists.

The dialogue should include such factors of one side of the street to the other as to the number of ingresses and egresses from local properties, the volume of cars turning across the two-way bike lanes, visibility of cyclists to motorists who are making turns across the bike lanes (left side visibility of motorists of parallel cyclists versus right side), and visibility of oncoming cyclists to motorists at intersections.

  • Networking

Networking of cycling facilities is a cycling traffic growth factor.  A cycling facility leading to on-street, shared cycling will only draw a smaller portion of motorists who could be induced to cycling if the cycling facilities were to their liking.

The dialogue for downtown Calgary should include the priority of SBL extending a limited cycling capacity Peace Bridge facility into the downtown core along 6th or 7th St or both.  The dialogue should also consider an option of SBL extension into the working core of downtown Calgary within the catchment area of cycling facilities to cyclists’ work places.

SBL’s along these two streets would have limited value unless the SBL were continued and networked into the downtown core and underneath the railway tracks to the shopping areas of 10th to 12th Ave and to 17th Ave.  Considering the cycling unfriendly 5th St and 8th St underpasses for potential cyclists and also cycling infrastructure catchment area, 7th St may be a more desirable street for an SBL as a first level network infrastructure.

Some grey research that I have been doing over the last 10 plus years and supported by lower-level rigour research by others would indicate that catchment area of cycling facilities tends to be from 0 metres to 500 metres (5 blocks, 2 minutes cycling).

For downtown city centrum, a catchment area of 2 blocks each side of cycling facilities is a highly desirable, first level networking design with catchment area eventually being decreased to two blocks between cycling facilities as the second level and then adjacent major streets as a third level. 

From a networking perspective, any off-road bike trails such as that along the Bow River should also have on-road bypasses as cycling traffic will built up on bike trails that will cause commuter cyclists to want to use on-road facilities from a commuting time perspective.  This factor would encourage an on-road cycling facility parallel to the Bow Trail.

Considering cycling infrastructure catchment area, the location of the Bow Trail, and the concentration of downtown workplace, a two-way SBL should be provided on 6th Ave as a first priority or alternately 5th Ave connecting with the Bow Trail via 11th St in the west and 6th Ave through the East Village at the east end.

  • Right turn or left turn prohibitions across SBL’s

The dialogue should include discussion on intersection design especially motorists’ capability for turns across SBL.  A through understanding on current motorists turning pattern needs to be had on candidate streets and alternate routing options for motorists should full or partial banning of turns occur across SBL.

Cyclists trip time, cyclist’s’ visibility, and perceived safety for potential cyclists are driving forces for intersection limitations for motorists.

Especially full prohibition or alternately no turn on red signal phase will enhance the perceived safety of SBL for potential and current cyclists.  

  • Cyclists advance timing at intersection

The dialogue should also include an alternative to banning turns across SBL

Alternately to full or partial turning for motorists at intersections, a cyclists advanced signal phase to clear backed-up cyclists at a traffic signal first before car movement starts will enhance the cyclists’ experience and the attractiveness to potential cyclists.

  • Bike boxes to accommodate turns

The dialogue should also consider how to efficiently move cyclists with high visibility to motorists from SBL to intersecting streets and also bringing cyclists from these intersecting streets to the SBL.

Coloured bike boxes (especially environmental green colour) at intersections of streets with SBL and diagonal streets is a good solution.  At some streets up to 4-coloured bike boxes may be desirable.

  • Road maintenance

The dialogue should also include housekeeping and maintenance of SBL’s.  What type of equipment should be added to the city’s arsenal and what cleaning frequency should be built into the city’s budget and maintenance procedures?

Wind tends to move dirt and garbagy materials left behind by cars and especially trucks into SBL.  Water ponding on SBL’s can be a significant problem for cyclists especially during freeze-thaw periods.

Maintenance procedures should be providing quality of cycling service that reduces the chances of tire flats for cyclist and provides for safe operation of bicycles at any speed.

  • Winter operations and snow and ice clearing

With a SBL network the desirability of cycling during rainy weather and winter increases significantly.  While initially SBL were convenient places to dump road snow, slowly these SBL’s are now being maintained throughout the winter in some cities with much more snow than Calgary and heavier snow to move with a bicycle.  In Copenhagen, the cycling facilities are cleared of snow before road lanes.  As we know now in Calgary, snow clearance on the river bike trails starts early in the morning.

Ice removal from SBL before morning commuting cycling starts is critical for making SBL desirable to potential winter cyclists.  Reduction of cyclists’ injury and associated health care costs results from such a program.

Road snow removal procedures will need to change.  Today, the procedures usually call for two or more passes with the first pushing the snow to the curb or also on the pedestrian walking facilities and then followed by a number of trucks and loading equipment to carry away the snow.  One-pass snow removal would make winter walking in Calgary much more pleasant and safer, especially for seniors and those with disabilities.

One-pass snow removal procedures are in place in many cities and may safe time, cost, and greenhouse pollution production from snow clearing trucks for Calgary.

  • Urban and streetscape form

The discussion contribution should be focused on a dialogued on SBL being a tool for shifting the appeal of downtown Calgary streets from places to avoid to people streets that attract Calgarians to spend time after 4:30 pm when the streets now become very deserted.

Various forms of separation designs can enhance the visual appeal of downtown streets and softening the austere look of 1960 designs of car-moving streets.  Street functionality can be enhanced with restricted-time, commercial drop-off zones, although neighbouring buildings should really provide that.  Bus loading zones can be designed to allow for pedestrian level crossing of SBL.  Bike parking can be built into the SBL design.  Even motorcycle and moped parking can be incorporated.

Downtown Calgary streets are already well situated for SBL with sufficient off-street parking for cars and lack of street facing retailing.  On-street parking is not required nor should not be encouraged.  In fact, SBL may encourage more street retailing.

  • Local retail business activities

Any change on a street that affects on-street parking tends to be a rallying point for retail businesses to call on city politicians to do nothing.  The reality of retail marketing, as one vice-president of a major Canadian property company once stated to a municipal council, is that retail businesses need people traffic.  People traffic is critical for retailing success.  The source of the people traffic is not that important.  Bringing cycling to a street increases retailing traffic.  One car parking spot can be converted to 10 to 14 bicycle parking.  About 80 to 100 bicycles can be parked along one side of 100 metre street block that could only accommodate up to 10 to 13 cars.  It is understandable that retailers are very reluctant to let go of the umbilical cord of car parking that is now starting to fail strip malls, which were designed for the car driving customers.  The marketing model for retailers must continually change with time along with its customers or these businesses will go bankrupt.

The influence of cycling customers and differences in purchasing capacity are now slowly being documented by researchers.  Without a car, a person has about $10,000 more available to spend each year.  Without a second car, that may be about $5,000.

The dialogue should be around how to make that happen by focusing on urban form, cycling, and combined mobility of transit and cycling.

If retailers cater their products to cyclists, then a 10-fold increase in street traffic is a potential.  With retailers offering the right product mix, people will cycle to stores.

  • Congestion

Dialogue would be worthwhile to explore this further.  The usual “NO, do not change anything from a car-oriented street” argument is that congestion will increase, meaning car congestion not cycling growth, transit growth, or walking growth, all of which should happen.

“Car congestion is good” is an argument used by some people.  It is argued that congestion or any other type of roadblock, which could include increased car trip time  due to car congestion, more car collisions and negative impacts to personal health, finances, obesity, and health during the aging process, causes people to consider which transportation alternative is in their best interest.

For people to make the transition from car transportation to another mode the infrastructure must be there and to a level that is appealing to them to make a change.  This includes peak and off-peak transit capacity and service level, combined mobility capacity whether it is car-cycling or transit-cycling supported by cycling infrastructure from home to local rapid transit and high service bus routes, safe and dependable bike parking in all weather, and a cycling network that is appealing from home to final destination including for commuting.

Introduction of SBL on a road should be with expectation and target that car traffic will reduce as a result of people make the shift in transportation mode from car-based, not as a facility that is being imposed on top of a car traffic level that will continue to increase in the future.

  • The final direction

With extensive dialogue, it will be become very apparent that downtown Calgary needs a network of connected SBL’s as another tool for reducing driving into the downtown core and reducing already beyond acceptable and historically high levels of greenhouse pollution.  

Back in the 1970’s, people wanted to come to Calgary for health reasons since allergies, sinus discomforts and health side effects improved for them.  Now these sufferers look for other cities to improve their health:  even in January, brown pollution clouds can be seen on Nose Hill, with much contribution from the high level of driving in the city.

With carefully thought-out design parameters for SBL and the resulting reduction of driving, the downtown core will become more of a people place  after business hours, increase downtown retailing, increase vitality of the city core, and will be more of a place to attract tourists beyond the Stampede.

Yes, it is a first phase in the introduction of public bike sharing system, as Paris proved so successfully.


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Downtown street with separated transportation modes. Austin, Texas. Feb 2012.  Photo by HJEH Becker

Downtown street with separated transportation modes. Austin, Texas. Feb 2012. Photo by HJEH Becker

Travel provides opportunities for understanding various approaches of cities for fostering the use of cycling for transportations and stimulating cycling traffic growth. Recently, a visit to Austin Texas provided such an opportunity to experience that city’s efforts. Some of the cycling advancements that stood out included:

Network– Density of cycling facilities within the urban core

Social cycling with painted buffer.  Austin, Texas. Feb 2012. Photo by HJEH Becker

Social cycling with painted buffer. Austin, Texas. Feb 2012. Photo by HJEH Becker

Infrastructure – Designing for social cycling; back-in, drive-out car parking adjacent to bike lanes; and traffic circles (small roundabouts) designs for reducing conflict and providing mini-parks.

City’s approach to cycling– Forward thinking of cycling staff – including narrower traffic lanes; the responsibility of cycling facilities within the city assigned to one group, no matter the public ownership of lands (municipal, parks, etc.); and ordinances supporting safe cycling – passing laws.

Back-in, drive-out parking on retail street with bike lane.  Austin, Texas. Feb 2012. Photo by HJEH Becker

Back-in, drive-out parking on retail street with bike lane. Austin, Texas. Feb 2012. Photo by HJEH Becker

Trip notes

Abridged notes

Full notes

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Strapping down collapsed 4 tier storage wire cart for closet. At Ikea store before cycling 15 km. home. 2011. Photo by J. Chong

Strapping down collapsed 4 tier storage wire cart for closet. At Ikea store before cycling 15 km. home. 2011. Photo by J. Chong

Costco bulk shoppers are the same as utility cyclists:  they buy groceries and schlep them homeward.

Uber Feasible Cycling Leads to Streamlined Living
However, the caveat is a purchase- laden cyclist can’t afford the temptation of buying junk food or anything superfluous:  she or he has to tow it home.

The no junk pre-condition makes the lifestyle cyclist, utility and commuter cyclist, more uber efficient in clean, free transportation, fitness and living only with what they need and treasure without the frills. Especially if they are only shopping within a 10 km. radius or less.

Leaving store with several large new boxes for moving 2010. Photo by J.Chong

Leaving store with several large new boxes for moving 2010. Photo by J.Chong

 Prep Time for Shopping by Bike Same as Finding Car Parking
Six months ago, we moved our stuff from a home to  new place,  just 2 blocks away. It wasn’t a big deal since there wasn’t much stuff.  We did rent a small van, not a truck,  to move a bed, large computer table and 4 large boxes of belongings. But the rest, was walked and also biked over by several small trips.

Moving around daily by bike, does require planning, especially for a particularily heavy or awkward, large load.  But probably no more time, than cruising around in a car and trying to find a parking spot in a busy shopping neighbourhood area. It helps to live near at least a bike route that does not have much car traffic or any at all especially when you are loaded down with an extra 30-40 lbs. of groceries and household goods.

 Packed in 2 side panniers from rear bike rack in 1 trip from store. 2011

Packed in 2 side panniers from rear bike rack in 1 trip from store. 2011. Photo by J. Chong. Hidden behind larger produce include tomatoes, tangerines, yogurt, 1 tin of clams, pasta & anise bulb.

 Squirreling Away Essentials Like Everyone Else
What is required, especially living in snow-prone areas of Canada, is to plan and buy perishable food when the prices and weather are right for cycling.  So yes, I did load up at the farmers’ markets with veggies and fruits galore in my panniers every weekend. Threw in the pasta and cereal into my panniers (or on top, held down with bungie cords) whenever there was a sale at the store. 

I half joke that I must be making a toilet tissue pack investment for the next few winter months since there are packs squirreled away in my storage areas. But my attitude is no different than the car driving shopper piling up their  bulk supply from Costco.

Bike transport of bins with this older model are becoming rarer. Changzhi, China 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike transport of bins with this older, but sturdy model are becoming rarer. Changzhi, China 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 Usually I make my heaviest grocery bike trips on weekends, when the car road traffic is quiet and less congested.  This has been true for the cities of Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary where I’ve lived, biked and shopped.  In all of these cities, it was possible to use bike routes for shopping  that included bike lanes, dedicated paths as well as on the road for a few kilometres. Depending on where we chose to shop in any of those cities, one-way distances were from 4 to 16 km.  

Stacked bins on back bike trailer. Vancouver BC 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Stacked bins on back bike trailer. Vancouver BC 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

  Of course in the winter, it was limited to under 8  km.  But truly we got everything we needed.  Any cycling for shopping further out, was more of a treat for  ourselves.  In such situations, we did sometimes use a blend of cycling and bringing bikes onto public transit trains or using the bus bike racks.

Jack has even cycled home with 4 unassembled dining room chairs, all boxed up on the bike trailer from the furniture store. It was only a 6 km. trip, partially on a busy road, then onto the bike path.  But it is possible with all the right roping, bungie cords and knowing the bike route well enough in advance to maneouvre the trailing, oversized packages along.  Another time, he slowly transported a pair of skis.

Returning with plastic caddy for storing cleaning agents. With some additional padding and secure cords, caddy could have stored more for journey home.

Return with plastic caddy for storing cleaning agents and grocery filled panniers. With some extra top padding and secure cords, caddy could store more for journey home.

 Bundled Cache of Bungie Cords- A Transportation Lifeline
Unlike him, what is annoying to me, is the fussiness of unraveling a bunch of bungie cords. So I keep my supply low –3.  He keeps over 10 different bungie cords in his panniers  –talk about seriously over prepared.  But admittedly, I’ve borrowed one or two from him.

For a 98- lb. person, it’s an excellent way for me to keep fit and build some strength when we go long distance cycle-touring later, with our pannier weight on cycling vacation trips.

So I don’t worry about dabbing on my make-up and choosing the right, colour coordinated purse before I leave. Instead I make sure my keys, wallet, lock and bungie cords are stashed away in my panniers.

Bike lane leads up to shopping mall, with signed bike parking area on right hand side by front entrance. Copenhagen, Denmark 2008. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike lane leads up to shopping mall, with signed bike parking area on right hand side by front entrance. Copenhagen, Denmark 2008. Photo by HJEH Becker

  Cycling Infrastructure Supporting Retail Shopping – HJEH Becker
Shopping by bicycle is much more feasible when quality cycling infrastructure is available on routes to retailing areas of cities. 

Quality cycling routes where cyclists are not apprehensive of passing motorists, comes first.  At shopping destinations, nearby bike parking that leaves a bike and shopping already done secure, especially in front of stores not down the block, is paramount.  Depending on trees and signposts for bike parking 

Family cycling with packages, including the boy with packages in his rear basket.  Downtown Karlsruhe, Germany 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Family cycling with packages, including the boy with packages in his rear basket. Downtown Karlsruhe, Germany 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker. This core area is heavily used by commuting cyclists with shops and restaurants, as well as bike parking areas and racks.

 just is not adequate.  Walking half a block from parking spots to stores is beyond the catchment areas for cycling shopping.  Some retailers understand marketing and how to attract cycling customers, considering that they have disposable money not spent on maintaining and operating cars.  These merchants even offer bike parking inside stores.  In larger shopping areas where visits to multiple of stores on a shopping trip is common, electronic, trip rental lockers or secure bike cages and corralled parking with restricted or attended access give higher level of comfort to cyclists that bicycles and shopping will still be there when one returns.

In Copenhagen, one of the large indoor-style shopping centres has bike lanes from the nearby arterial road through the internal road system to the indoor bike parking area located right adjacent to the main front entrance to the shopping complex.  In Calgary, major big-box shopping areas are connected to the bike trails along the river system and from the C-Train rapid transit stations by bike paths on road right-of-ways providing relaxing and pleasant cycling to stores.  Such a network allows for comfortable and pleasant shopping 15, 20, or even 30 kilometres from home. 

Bike path from Elbow River bike path to Marlborough shopping mall area. Calgary, AB 2011. Photo HJEH Becker

Bike path section connected from Nose Creek bike path, to Marlborough shopping mall area. Calgary, AB 2011. Photo HJEH Becker

 Calgary’s winter maintenance program of its bike trails along the river system extends the cycling-shopping right through winter as bike trails are cleaned of snow with the same priority as streets and only the minus 15 to minus 30 degree C  weather provides the hurdle to overcome.  Combining cycling and the C-Train rapid transit system makes such shopping trips more comfortable as total cycling distance can be managed to prevailing conditions.

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