New shuttle from village to bike park

Not everybody has a pick-up truck, so the shuttle is expected to provide access to people who may not have access otherwise, while reducing the number of trucks on 5 Mile Road, saving wear and tear on the infrastructure, according to VARDA manager Curtis Pawliuk. / AARON ERMANTROUT

by EVAN MATTHEWS

The Village has come up with a solution to address limited parking on 5 Mile Road that recently interfered with ambulance access.

A report written by the Village of Valemount’s Economic Development Officer Silvio Gislimberti states Village staff is looking at various ways to improve safety and accessibility to Hillside Drive (also known as 5-Mile Road).

He suggests pick-up sites at the Community Hall, Gorse 101, and at 1445 – 5th Avenue, a Village property west of the Health Clinic, where riders could park and get a lift with PEAK SHUTTLES.

The goal is to reduce traffic at the bike park, and create more room for emergency personnel to access the area in case of emergency.

Owner and operator of PEAK SHUTTLES Aaron Ermantrout says his company is totally on board with the idea. Ermantrout says only one of the two pick up locations will be used, and which one will be decided over the next two weeks.

PEAK SHUTTLES will offer two pick ups from town per day, Ermantrout says, one at 10 AM and the other at 2 PM.

The shuttle service between the village and the bike park will be complimentary for bike park users with active PEAK SHUTTLE punch cards.

“It’s a great alternative to having a bunch of cars parked up there during successful events like Bike Fest,” says Ermantrout, adding nobody could have anticipated 200 users in a day.

“It’s a great way to get youngsters up there too,” he says, noting many can’t drive.

At its Jun. 27 meeting, Valemount Council received an administrative report on 5 Mile Road access and safety.

A staff report noted concerns raised by the Valemount Volunteer Fire Department after a medical emergency over the Bikes and Beer fest weekend.

On Saturday, Jun. 17 the bike trails saw over 200 users on the park’s grounds and parked cars lined the road on both sides. An injury at the park resulted in the fire department and paramedics having significant issues navigating and accessing 5 Mile Road due to the bottleneck created by bike park users’ vehicles, according to a Village report.

“A shuttle is a great alternative to having a bunch of cars parked up there during successful events like Bike Fest. It’s a great way to get youngsters up there too,” — Aaron Ermantrout, owner and operator of PEAK SHUTTLES

But bike park users say those days are few and far between.

“Valemount has had one event — surpassing all expectations — that caused traffic concerns,” says Sean Maxwell, a regular visitor to the park.

“I have been up there many times and parking is very sufficient if users act like responsible humans,” he says.

Another user, Danny Roberts, says Jun. 17 was the only day in two years he’s witnessed so many vehicles at the park. Roberts says the shuttle from town is a good idea, whichever location PEAK SHUTTLES ultimately decides on.

“I’m not sure where they’ll pick me up, but they can definitely drop me off at the brewery,” he says.

Various injuries over the last year have raised safety concerns at the bike park, but as of now, VARDA nor the Village have immediate plans to change the way medical procedures at the park operate.

Hillside Road provides the only vehicle access to the Valemount Water Plant, the Bike Park, and to Valemount Community Forest holdings up the mountain.

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