Cyclists to take over Bow Valley Parkway in Banff again this year

·2 min read
A photo from 2020 when private vehicles weren't allowed on the parkway. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)
A photo from 2020 when private vehicles weren't allowed on the parkway. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)

A stretch of the Bow Valley Parkway will be shut down again this year, starting this weekend, so cyclists can enjoy it without worrying about cars.

Banff National Park has previously closed the scenic parkway to bring out more biking enthusiasts. This year it's testing out closing it for several weeks before and after the busiest months of the year, July and August.

From May 1 to June 25 and from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30, vehicle access will be restricted along the eastern 17 kilometres of the road. These pilot closures will be ongoing for the next three years.

Closing the roadway has been a big hit during the past two summers. On weekdays, there were hundreds of users taking advantage of the quiet parkway, and during peak times there were thousands on weekends, said Daniella Rubeling, visitor experience manager for Parks Canada.

Helen Pike/CBC
Helen Pike/CBC

But during public engagement, they heard that people also like to drive the scenic route.

"That's a big reason why we wanted to keep it open for all users in July and August. So during those peak visitation times, the Bow Valley Parkway will be open to vehicles, to motorcycles and to cyclists."

Access to Johnston Canyon's day-use area and campground will be maintained via Castle Junction and the Trans-Canada Highway over the next three years.

WATCH | Bow Valley Parkway was closed in 2020 to make space for hikers, bikers and bears:

Drew Hildebrand, senior service technician at a Banff rental shop, Snowtips-Bactrax, says there has been a "massive uptick" in cycling-related tourism.

"You get a pretty big increase in local Alberta traffic, but you are seeing a lot more international traffic," he said.

Helen Pike/CBC
Helen Pike/CBC

Nancy DaDalt, director of visitor experience at Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, says now that there is a three-year pilot to plan around, businesses are taking advantage, with some offering bike-driven experiences and packages to bring families out on two wheels, and bike valet services.

"There are restaurants that are catering to what cyclists love. There are hotels that are doing special offers for cyclists — and to experience Banff National Park in its glory, getting out of your car, on foot or on a bike, is the best way to go."