Town of Canmore

Benchlands Trail Rehabilitation

Benchlands Trail will be re-paved to prolong the life of the road and provide a better travelling surface. Rehabilitation projects present an opportunity to make functional improvements in a cost effective manner and in ways that align with the goals of the  pdf Integrated Transportation Plan (15.09 MB) . As part of this project we have a small budget to make functional improvements along with the rehabilitation works. 

Pilot Project

Council has approved a temporary pilot project to trial the improvements before committing to permanent installations. These trial measures have been identified to address concerns raised by the community through a public consultation process held in 2017 and 2018. Recognizing that the behaviour of users is influenced by the form and shape of the road, the pilot has been designed to create an intuitive street design that encourages drivers to travel at or below the speed limit, and creates a more comfortable environment for pedestrians.  

What We Heard

The feedback period is now over, thank you for providing your comments. We received 95 emails and 169 comments using the online feedback tool during the engagement period. The feedback was summarized into eight themes and then classified as either positive or negative. Below is a chart outlining the themes and comments by classification, followed by a summary of the main points heard for each theme.

Bike Safety 

  • The edge treatments on Benchlands Trail create hazardous conditions for people riding bicycles since they are required to share the driving lane with vehicles 

Pedestrian Crossings

  • The addition of new crossings at the bike skills park and Settler's Way would accomodate desire lines and encourage use of the multi-use path
  • The addition of new crossings is not necessary, there are already enough in the corridor
  • The new setback crossings on Cougar Creek Drive were confusing to drivers. There were both positive and negative comments on their impacts on traffic

Pilot Aesthetics

  • The white flex bollards and concrete TC barriers create visual clutter in the corridor

Right Turn Elimination

  • The elimination of the right turn lane caused longer delays, specifically at the Summit Cafe intersection
  • The elimination of right turn lanes improved safety and convenience for drivers, allowing the vehicle at the stop line better sight lines

Large Vehicles 

  • Transit operators experienced challenges with stops at both Cougar Creek Drive intersections 
  • Challenging conditions for large vehicles to turn in and out of Cougar Creek Drive

Vehicle Speeds 

  • Comments on both sides indicating a reduction in speeds and no effect on speeds
  • Increased photo radar presence and enforcement was suggested to improve compliance

Traffic Queuing

  • The elimination of the right turn slip lane increased queue lengths and delay at peak times
  • The change from a Stop to Yield sign on both Cougar Creek Drive exits improved vehicle flow. While others suggested that it created a hazardous situation

Snow Clearing

  • Snow accumulation in the winter would effectively decrease the lane widths, creating narrower lane widths in winter 
  • The presence of the traffic calming measures would make snow clearing difficult  

Next Steps

  1. Council will be presented with an update on the status of the Benchlands Trail Pilot Traffic Calming Project and next steps at the August 21 council meeting. The agenda package will be available in the afternoon of Friday, August 17 on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Use White Bollards?
These temporary devices are industry standard tools used to deploy traffic calming measures in a cost effective and rapid manner. They are intended to improve safety by encouraging drivers to focus on the road and to reduce vehicle speeds by creating an apparent constriction in the road. The bollards that are in place will be removed in the fall. The white bollards and yellow concrete barriers are temporary measures only and would be replaced with regular curbs and minimal signage in the final design. 
What About Snow Clearing?
The white bollards and yellow concrete barriers are temporary measures only and will be removed in the fall.
How are Cyclists Being Considered?
The permanent design would encourage cyclists to use off street facilities, either the multi-use pathway or the sidewalk (uphill traffic only). The simulated crossing in place at the bike skills park would be a location for cyclists to cross and use the multi use pathway.
Confident cyclists travelling downhill on Benchlands Trail should take the lane and travel at the speed of traffic, otherwise they are encouraged to use the multi-use pathway.
Why Eliminate Right Hand Turn Lanes?
These have been eliminated in the pilot for the following reasons:
1. To create a safer pedestrian environment by reducing crossing distance and reducing the number of vehicle conflict points
2. Sight lines for right turning vehicles are obstructed by vehicles waiting to turn left, making it difficult to see oncoming traffic
3. The volume of vehicles turning left was measured prior to the installation of the pilot, and greatly outnumbers those turning right.
Were Large Vehicles Considered in the Design?
Yes. The intersection geometry was designed using industry standard software and was tested on-site using Canadian Rockies Public School Board’s largest school bus prior to implementation.  
Why Move the Cougar Creek Crossings Further Back?
Moving the crossings further away from Benchlands Trail means that vehicles can yield to pedestrians prior to negotiating a left or right turn onto Benchlands Trail. It also means that traffic exiting Benchlands Trail has space to stop for pedestrians, out of the flow of up or downhill traffic.  
What do the White Triangular Paint Marks at the Intersections Mean?
The white triangular marks at each of the Cougar Creek Drive intersections signify the yield line for vehicles exiting Cougar Creek Drive. Vehicles should yield first to the crosswalk and when safe they can move up to the triangular line for better sight lines while waiting to enter Benchlands Trail. See the photos below for a visual representation.


Pilot Project Design 

Upper Cougar Creek Intersection pdf Pilot East Cougar Creek (362 KB)

Lower Cougar Creek Intersection pdf Pilot West Cougar Creek (395 KB)

Benchlands Terrace Intersection pdf Pilot Benchlands Terrace (304 KB)


Questions

If you have any questions on the pilot project contact:

Brian Kinzie
Project Engineer
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