Just over 25 years ago there wasn’t a single mile of pathway in Teton County. Today there are more than 65 miles, with more to come in the very near future. What was once an ambitious idea is now a well-used and appreciated amenity, intended for people of all ages and abilities and varying modes of travel.

The convergence of e-bike technology, COVID-related demand for fresh-air activities, and a growing desire to not sit in traffic has made the pathways busier than ever. That is good news for our car-clogged roads, our active and healthy community and Teton County’s transportation and community goals.

However, especially along popular pathway segments, more use means more potential for conflicts, safety issues and complaints to our respective organizations.

A growing concern expressed by many is the proliferation of kids riding e-bikes in reckless ways and at unsafe speeds. While we love seeing kids on bikes and the freedom and independence that comes with two-wheeled travel, we are concerned by some recent reports:

– Three girls on one e-bike riding barefoot without helmets.

– Teens riding e-bikes towing friends on skateboards and inline skates.

– Two boys on a cargo bike in the skateboard park.

– A pack of school-age e-bike riders speeding around pedestrians in Garaman Park and frightening people with their recklessness.

Could this be your kid? There is no age limit for e-bike use on the pathways, so it is incumbent on parents to ensure that their new e-bike rider isn’t being a nuisance — or worse.

Take some time with your kids to be certain they understand the rules of the road and bike path etiquette that will keep them in good standing with neighbors, family, friends and law enforcement officers. E-bikes can be terrific or terrifying depending on the behavior of the rider, so please keep that in mind before sending your kid out the door on an e-bike.

It certainly isn’t just kids who need reminding about basic etiquette for using our multiuse pathways. Below are five tips for keeping the pathways a fun and friendly place for everyone.

How we roll in Jackson Hole

Be nice, say hi. Practice this everywhere and you may never have a negative encounter!

Keep right, pass left. This applies to everyone on the pathways, including walkers and runners.

Ring your bell when passing. Don’t assume that people can hear you coming. Be considerate, slow down and ring your bell before passing people so they have time to move to the right.

Be pro, go slow. Congested areas require slower speeds and greater attention.

Keep dogs on a short leash. Busy pathways and loose dogs are a recipe for conflict and collision and one of the most common complaints that we hear throughout the summer.

It’s that simple. More people on the pathways means more patience and empathy required. Now get out there and have a great summer, and don’t forget to stop by and visit the Friends of Pathways outreach tent or office if you need a bell for your bike or other pathway advice.

Katherine Dowson is executive director of Friends of Pathways, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable transportation and healthy recreation in Jackson Hole. Brian Schilling works as pathways coordinator for Jackson Hole Community Pathways, which plans and constructs the pathway system and works to improve cycling and walking conditions on all streets and roads. Guest Shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

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