The town of Jackson is considering extending the protected bike lanes on Snow King this summer to include two more blocks east to Cache. (TOJ)

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Jackson town council this afternoon will contemplate extending the oft-debated protected bike lanes on Snow King Avenue to include an additional two blocks.

Pilot program drew mixed reviews in 2018

Cyclists reported feeling safer last summer when using Snow King. In fact, bike traffic was up 18% and many families let their kids ride along or by themselves. (TOJ)

Last year, the Town of Jackson installed temporary protected bike lanes on Snow King Avenue from Millward Street to Scott Lane as a test project to evaluate the effectiveness of a protected lane vs. a striped bicycle lane on cyclist numbers and the comfort, safety, and usability of cyclists.

The motor vehicle lanes were striped at 10’ wide and the bike lanes were delineated by dual paint lines with 3’ tall flexible plastic bollards placed at 20’ spacing in the center of a 1.5’ buffer between the car and bike lanes. At intersections the bike lanes were highlighted with green paint striping and rubber lane markers placed to help guide cyclists and make them more visible and predictable through the intersections.

Feedback on the bike lanes, and specifically the bollards, has mixed. Many drivers do not like the bollards or the width of the travel lanes. Most commented that the street felt narrow and that it required extra attention or was difficult to drive down Snow King without hitting bollards. Some drivers commented that they actually liked the effect of the bollards in slowing people down and that drivers had to pay more attention, which helped make driving on Snow King overall less stressful.

The majority of complaints about the bollards and lane width came from drivers of wider vehicles (buses and larger trucks), and vehicles with trailers. They struggled with hitting bollards, especially when turning into the fairgrounds.

Cyclists, on the other hand, seemed overwhelmingly in favor of the protected lanes. Most commented that they felt safer with the bollards and greatly appreciated having the separation from large, faster moving vehicles. Many even commented that they now felt comfortable riding with kids (or letting their kids ride alone) on Snow King, whereas previously they had not. Many cyclists noted that drivers were forced to be less distracted and drove slower.

Parking versus bike lane

In the end, town planners were encouraged by the results. Overall, bike use between May and September increased 18% from 2017 to 2018 (from 588 trips per day to 696 trips per day). Vehicular speed data collection (based on a limited before-after study) showed a slight overall decrease of travel speeds. The percentage of vehicles exceeding the speed limit decreased 12% with the bollards in place.

The 2018 pilot project did not include the segment from Millward St. to Cache St. While this two-block stretch was originally included as part of the project proposal, it was removed from implementation due to concerns about loss of seasonal on-street parking and potential impacts to neighbors. A key reason to include the additional segment to Cache St. is that it would allow people to safely access the base of Snow King, where numerous events take place during the summer, including People’s Market, JH Live concerts, access to Phil Baux Park, and more.

The loss of parking spaces will be significant in an area that has become increasingly tight for access. A new brewery, activity related to One Town Hill condo development, and anticipated construction for a new condo project going in at the old Lift site have all contributed to making Snow King Ave difficult to navigate and find parking.

Town staff say 27 on-street parking spaces will be lost with the extension of the bike lanes for another two blocks.

“Parking demand in this area is not at full capacity—surrounding streets could easily accommodate the existing demand, although some destinations (mid-block residences) would be as far as 200 feet from the nearest on-street parking space on an adjacent cross street,” staff reported.

The town will consider extending protected bike lanes to Cache St. (TOJ)