I am writing to express my concern over the safety of individuals using the Bow Valley Parkway (from its eastern junction with Highway 1, to its junction with Highway 93 South).
Pursuant to Section 7(1) of the National Parks General Regulations, of the Canada National Parks Act, vehicular access on this stretch of road is prohibited by order of the Park Superintendent.
The closing of this road has encouraged droves of cyclists and hikers to visit the area with little to no regard for traffic safety.
I have witnessed masses of hikers taking up full lanes, cyclists ignoring the rules of the road, and would-be photographers sitting and setting up tripods on the centerline, looking for the perfect shot.
Ordinarily on a closed road, this would pose little risk, but the truth is, this road is far from closed. Vehicle access is granted to Parks Canada staff, construction vehicles, Johnston Canyon Resort staff and guests, food delivery semi-trailers, utility operators, CN staff, and anyone else who manages to sneak past the gate operator.
This stretch of the Bow Valley Parkway has essentially become a "woonerf" with zero traffic calming, or lower speed limits imposed. It’s simply not safe. Not for drivers, not for cyclists, not for pedestrians.
A second area of visitor safety which should be addressed is that hikers who over-exert themselves on trails are left vulnerable to the elements and wildlife on their walk back to the designated parking area at Castle Junction.
Depending on the trail being accessed, guests who push themselves too hard during their hike, who are feeling lightheaded, dizzy, faint or possibly injured, are subjected to a further walk down the Bow Valley Parkway to the safety of their vehicle.
To give some perspective, the Johnston Canyon trail is listed as easy on the Park’s website, but the trailhead is located 6.2 kilometres from the parking area at Castle Junction. This equates to a 1hr 20m walk for the average able-bodied person just to return to their parked vehicle.
Parks Canada justifies the road closure in the interest of visitor safety, yet from at least my perspective, the visitor experience is far from safe.