Ride This Way
Jackson Hole’s pathways are awesome.
By Rachel Walker
LONG BEFORE JACKSON Hole was the tourist destination it is today, it was cowboy country, the land of wide boulevards (all the better for cattle drives) and pickup trucks, with nary a bicycle to be found. But these days, most of the saddles you see around town are attached to a bike frame rather than atop a horse. This is no wonder—with forty-five miles of pathways in Teton County and an additional fifteen miles in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), it’s never been easier to explore this slice of paradise by bike.
“I ride as much as I can throughout the year because, frankly, it can be quicker to get places on a bike, it’s invigorating, and it’s beautiful,” says Brian Schilling, pathways and trails coordinator at the Town of Jackson and Teton County. His point is valid: How often do you see bicycle traffic at a standstill around Town Square? (The answer: never.)
Schilling believes anyone can ride a bike around Jackson, regardless of age or experience. This is largely thanks to the decades of work by the Teton County Pathways Department, established in 1994. Though Jackson Hole’s pathways weren’t the first in the state, today they are among Wyoming’s largest and most interconnected alternative transportation system.
THE VALLEY’S FIRST pathway, a four-mile section connecting central Jackson to the school campuses and surrounding neighborhoods, opened in 1996. Years later, a pathway between Wilson and Teton Village was completed, as was a segment linking Jackson to GTNP.
With a total of roughly $30 million invested in valley pathways to date, the network now enables cyclists and pedestrians to travel from town to GTNP without having to share space with a car. They can also travel from Wilson to Teton Village.
Last summer was a big one for riders and walkers: West Broadway was reconstructed with protected bike lanes and bigger sidewalks, downtown got five bike “corrals,” and, after ten years of planning and construction, the pathway from Jackson to Wilson along Highway 22 opened; it includes an award-winning pedestrians/cyclists-only bridge across the Snake River.
JACKSON’S PATHWAYS HAVE earned the community a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community designation by the League of American Bicyclists. Beyond formal accolades are other signs of success, namely a steady increase in pathway users. Data from moving counters and cameras estimate significant gains—from five to eight users every two hours, to upwards of fifty to one hundred on the pathway from town to GTNP. This spring officials installed several permanent counters to collect more user information. But Schilling, who rides his bike to work nearly every day, says one needs only to hit the pathway to see the uptick in users.
Discover the valley’s pathways for yourself with a map published by Friends of Pathways and available throughout town at various bike shops, the library, town hall, restaurants, and the visitor center, or download it at friendsofpathways.org.
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