Some people are concerned about kids putting the proverbial pedal to the metal on e-bikes, and officials are looking to do something about it before school ends for the year.
In the past week, Geneva Chong, who has a sixth-grader at Jackson Hole Middle School, wrote a letter to the editor of the Jackson Hole News&Guide concerned about middle schoolers’ e-bike use. Teton County School District No. 1 officials told the Jackson Hole Daily they have heard complaints about the same thing, and the Teton County Board of County Commissioners hosted a workshop Monday where a major topic of discussion was better educating people about pathway etiquette and riding the juiced up human-powered vehicles safely.
To address those concerns, the school district, Jackson Police Department, Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson Hole Community Pathways and Friends of Pathways are set to hold a workshop focused on e-bike safety.
The program will run from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, June 4 at Jackson Hole Middle School and will be geared for middle school-age students. District Communications Director Charlotte Reynolds said that’s because middle schoolers are the demographic people are worried about the most.
“We weren’t really hearing reports with concerns about high school age students,” she said. “They transition from the e-bike to driving.”
Teton County Pathways and Trails Coordinator Brian Schilling said the concerns are varied, but increasing.
Complaints have ranged from kids going too fast to having friends or siblings on the back of bikes to not wearing helmets to failing to signal when they turn, he said.
“If you go out on Snow King Avenue in the afternoon at three o’clock, you’re going to see a bunch of kids flying along,” he said.
At a workshop Monday, county officials discussed concerns about both younger and older riders. Worries about younger e-bike users tracked with what Schilling said.
But concerns about pathways etiquette extended to older riders, too, whether they’re visiting Jackson Hole or are locals who, as some officials said, “know better.”
There was some talk about citing people for reckless behavior on pathways, but Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr and Deputy County Attorney Keith Gingery said that wasn’t an immediately viable option, especially on paths outside of Jackson.
One reason is the county’s limited rule-making authority compared to municipalities like the town. Another is a disagreement between the Teton County Attorney’s office and state agencies like the Wyoming Highway Patrol about how “roadways” are defined.
So enforcement wasn’t where the conversation landed.
Instead, the focus was on education.
“When I brought this forward, I wasn’t asking us to be draconian and create new mandates,” said Commissioner Greg Epstein, who a week earlier asked to hold the workshop. “It’s about education. It’s about consistent education. It’s about messaging.”
Schilling said that, among other things, Friends of Pathways is working on an educational campaign titled “How We Roll in Jackson Hole” and a video that could be distributed to bike shops around the valley if they’re willing to play it before renting bikes.
Those efforts will likely reach older riders.
The school’s intent is to reach the younger people.
“I think it’s a great place to start,” she told the Daily.
Reflecting the wider concern about bike safety in Teton County, she said she believed parents could use a refresher on pathway safety too.
“The more people that hear it, the better,” she said.
The substance of the June 4 workshop is still being ironed out, Reynolds said. But it will likely focus on safety, rules of the road and pathways while on a bike, proper use of signaling, helmets, and the like.
“If you go out on Snow
King Avenue in the afternoon
at three o’clock, you’re
going to see a bunch
of kids flying along.” – Pathways Coordinator, Brian Schilling