BANFF – A popular cycling section of the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park is under consideration for continued vehicle restriction for years to come.
Parks Canada is seeking public feedback for its proposed Bow Valley Parkway enhanced cycling opportunity, which offers two options for a potential annual restriction on a 17-kilometre portion of the scenic stretch of road during shoulder seasons.
The first option would restrict vehicle traffic for 122 days from May to June and September to October, and the second option would restrict vehicles on weekends from May to June and September to October for a total of 36 days.
"We are looking to go ahead with one of those options," said Daniella Rubeling, Parks Canada's visitor experience manager for Banff National Park. "We know it's been a popular cycling destination based on the opportunity that arose as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we do want to extend that enhanced offer and so we really are looking for feedback and those are to two options we're considering at the moment."
Public feedback is until Sept. 9. After which, Parks Canada will summarize responses and make a final decision to any proposed changes that will begin in 2022.
The 17-km section of the parkway under consideration is in the eastern stretch of the road from Fireside Day-Use Area and to Hillsdale.
The remaining 31-km stretch of the parkway in the flagship national park would remain open to vehicles, which includes the notable tourism hot spot Johnston Canyon.
Rubeling said Parks Canada is looking at making the proposed restrictions annual so businesses, tourists and locals can organize for times when the Parkway is closed to vehicle access.
Keeping the parkway open in peak summer and winter months was based off feedback during the 2020-21 restrictions and motorists wanting to drive the entirety of scenic stretch of road.
"It really is about making something that's predictable and stable for people to plan around," she said.
Wildlife frequently using the area will continue to be monitored.
Rubeling added seasonal travel restrictions from March to June 25 from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. will continue to be in place on the parkway.
"[Seasonal restrictions] will apply to cyclists and anyone using that roadway regardless of their mechanism of travel, so we really want to make sure that the wildlife in that area get the space they need and the time they need at critical times of year," she said.
Public feedback can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or through mail to Banff Superintendent, Box 900, Banff, AB, T1L 1K2.
"We really want to hear from a variety of people," said Rubeling. "We've anecdotically seen a lot of different use – not just from what I would call hardcore cyclists, but lots of families, young people using that opportunity as opposed to when the road is open to vehicles. It's a lot broader use of it right now."