JACKSON HOLE, WYO — The Jackson town council at yesterday’s meeting opted to extend the protected bike lanes on Snow King another two blocks to Cache Street.
The pilot project that began last year was deemed a success as cyclist traffic was up 18% along the popular east-west corridor. Public feedback has been mixed since the bike lanes and bollards went up last summer. Cyclists like them and feel safer using the road. Motorists, for the most part, didn’t care for them all that much, especially the generous width designated for bikes.
The following two comments represent the typical dichotomy of local perspectives:
“My name is Megan and I bike to town from Wilson a handful of times every summer with my 6- and 10-year-olds. The bike lanes make it possible for us to feel safe and avoid walking our bikes so much,” wrote one resident to the town council.
“Please do not bring back or extend the bike lane barriers that we had last year,” wrote Susan. “The space with the barriers is just too tight. If people really want them, maybe the bike lane could be slightly less wide?”
How they voted
Councilman Jim Stanford offered his unique perspective as a multi-faceted user of Snow King Ave. He said he bikes the avenue, drives the avenue, and even hauls a trailer down Snow King.
“To me this was one of the great successes last summer,” Stanford said. “There has been a lot of discussion in the community over the last 15-20 years about solving transportation woes and shifting the culture to alternative means of transportation. One place we’ve been able to reduce traffic is right here in town with this change on Snow King Avenue. It’s been sort of a game-changer and the numbers back it up. To me, it’s a ‘no brainer’ to keep moving in this direction.”
Stanford added he would like someday to see the lanes extended in the other direction all the way to Vine Street. He also agreed that maybe the width of the bike lanes could be narrowed some to make it easier for larger vehicles like the START Bus and horse trailers to navigate the avenue.
“I’d like to see it work for everybody,” he added.
Councilman Arne Jorgensen also supported the two-block extension but did sympathize with elderly neighbors who said the loss of parking spaces would make for longer walking distances. Jorgensen also pointed out that cyclists need to be mindful of following rules anywhere around town so as not to invite ire from motorists.
“Change is hard. One of the realities in Jackson is we are going through a rapid period of transition. And we’ve done a poor job of figuring out how we are going to get to where want to go from where we used to be,” said councilman Jonathan Schechter. There is so much money pouring in here and so much growth; we are going to change.”
Schechter added that the bike lane discussion was not unlike a pathways discussion or a housing dialogue. Issues of the day in Jackson demand trade-offs and a sensitivity to longtime locals who are struggling with change.
Mayor Pete Muldoon said, “Scratched cars are better than scratched children,” referring to comments that the bollards separating motorists from cyclists were often intrusive and in the way. “I do understand the concerns about parking but I would note there are still over 400 spaces in that area for residents.”
The council approved on a 4-0 vote extending the protected bike lanes on Snow King Avenue two additional blocks to Cache Street and the base of Snow King Mountain. The lanes will be put in place sometime in mid-June.
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