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The addition of a fourth lane would require the sidewalks on the bridge to be narrowed on both sides from by one metre. This will negatively impact pedestrians and is contrary to council’s strategic priority of promoting sustainable modes of transportation. As well, a crash barrier between the sidewalk and driving lanes would likely be required with four driving lanes on the bridge leading to a further reduction in sidewalk width on a designated heritage structure.
A structural review is needed to assess the impacts of an additional load. In the long term, traffic volumes are likely to increase beyond the capacity that fourth lane could provide.
Council considered a trial lane reversal in November 2014 to assess the efficiency of two northbound lanes. The trial was not approved because Council felt the limits of the Buffalo/Banff Avenue intersection would make the trial ineffective.
Traffic signals at Banff’s intersections are synchronized to support travel down the main Banff Avenue corridor. On busy summer days, the northbound signal pattern is combined with green times specifically designed for high traffic volumes, with video detection cameras that support each direction. The cameras trigger a signal change if there is no traffic facing the current green light, and associate the extra, unused green time to the other movement. There is no point in time when the signals are not feeding traffic onto the bridge.
The RCMP advise that Banff’s intersections require two professionally trained traffic management officers (RCMP or Bylaw) for each intersection. This makes flagging expensive as well as ineffective at signalized intersections.
Your wait is shorter than you think. Motorists are waiting an additional 30 seconds per cycle at most (compared to summer 2013 signal timings) and pedestrians up to an extra 37 seconds per cycle. These wait times are reduced in the winter as the traffic signals operate with a shorter cycle length. Combined with optimized traffic signals (coordinated signalling for north-south travel), the scramble crosswalks do not impede traffic flow, and in fact, assist it, as shown in the 2014 trial.
In 2014, with scrambles, when the total daily vehicle volume was below 24,000 vehicles per day, there were no days in July or August where the travel time delay was greater than 15 minutes maximum. In 2013, with the same vehicle volume, five days experienced greater than a 15-minute maximum travel time delay. As well, the east/west side streets did not experience significant vehicle queuing during the summer of 2014, which indicates traffic flowing in the area.
Beyond 24,000 vehicles per day, the road network is over capacity and congestion occurs.
This timing exceeds the Canadian standard for calculating pedestrian clearance of 1.2 metres/second and is balanced to meet the needs of all users. Any longer would negatively impact traffic flow, or inconvenience both pedestrians and motorists, as the timing is related to the other actions to improve flow.
The direction of the one-way street changed to south-north (from Buffalo Street to Wolf Street) in May 2015 to harmonize parking access with the pattern of visiting motorists. We found motorists tended to drive downtown or to the end of Bear St, and then look for parking. Now they will be able to turn right onto Buffalo and head to Bow Avenue to park. Last year, they were forced to circle through the downtown. The parking time limit is 8 hours, with no parking between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Council will review the results of the one-way/angle parking trial and make long-term decisions after the summer.