Wyoming ranks No. 33 in bicycle friendly states

Kelsey Dayton
— May 7, 2013

Wyoming slipped in the rankings in the League of American Bicyclists bicycle friendly states.

In its sixth year, Wyoming was ranked No. 33. Last year it was ranked No. 25, said Tim Young, executive director of Wyoming Pathways.

That is a number Young expects only to rise in the coming years as pathway systems, such as those in Sheridan and across the state, are expanding. Biking — in a variety of forms — is becoming more popular with new mountain bike trails and with more commuters. Popular cross-country bike routes, like the TransAmerica Route and the Great Divide Mountain bike route, also bring bike enthusiasts to Wyoming, Young said.

Wyoming’s ranking was based on infrastructure, funding for bicycle facilities, education and programs that promote cycling and passage and enforcement of bicycle-friendly laws. Wyoming received a 1, the lowest on a scale of 1 to 5, on its infrastructure and funding. It earned 2’s in legislation and enforcement and evaluation and planning, and 3’s in policies & programs and education and encouragement (see the full report here) .

The report said one positive thing for Wyoming is its high number of bike commuters. It also listed steps Wyoming could take to improve its ranking, including using more available federal funding programs and updating the state bicycle and pedestrian plan.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s (WyDOT) transportation enhancement program has allowed dozens of communities across the state, such as in Evanston, Cheyenne, Casper and Jackson, to add miles of pathways. Wyoming’s transportation enhancement program is one of the best in the country, Young said. And while some states are cutting funding from the program, or allocating it elsewhere, in Wyoming, the money continues to go to bike and pedestrian pathways. There also is a willingness from the department to update its bicycle and pedestrian plan, which was last updated in 2002.

“With the steps that WyDot are committed to taking I think we can move up and I don’t think getting into the top 10 is (out of) our reach in Wyoming,” Young said.

Bike paths encourage people to be active and enhance the quality of living in Wyoming towns.

Communities are also seeing economic advantages to encouraging biking.

A biker rider approaches cattle out by Elk Mountain, Wyoming. (Zane Selvans/Flickr — click to view)

Green River started working on a mountain bike system two years ago, said Allan Wilson with the town of Green River. The town partnered with the local mountain bike association to plan and build trails to better serve the community, discourage illegal trail building and attract tourists who go to Moab, Utah to ride, he said. Green River also built a bike park.

Cody also has been adding trails and a bike park, and bike enthusiasts in Lander have been working on new trails, Young said.

“It’s really about creating more livable communities,” Young said. “Part of the recreational landscapes in our towns is having access to trails that are literally outside our doors is the best case.”

It’s something one major business noticed. A councilman in Cheyenne told him how executives from Lowe’s were in Cheyenne on their way to scout a location elsewhere. They saw the greenways and were so impressed with the options, knowing it would be a place employees would like to live that they approached the city council about the possibility of opening a store in Cheyenne.

“It’s really the people-powered modes of biking and walking that make Wyoming communities livable,” Young said. “The benefits (of pathways) are more livable communities, enhanced tourism and a healthy overall state of Wyoming.”

— “Peaks to Plains” is a blog focusing on Wyoming’s outdoors and communities. Kelsey Dayton is a freelance writer based in Lander. She has been a journalist in Wyoming for seven years, reporting for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Casper Star-Tribune and the Gillette News-Record. Contact Kelsey at kelsey.dayton@gmail.com. Follower her on twitter @Kelsey_Dayton

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Kelsey Dayton

Kelsey Dayton is a freelancer and the editor of Outdoors Unlimited, the magazine of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. She has worked as a reporter for the Gillette News-Record, Jackson Hole News&Guide...

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