Legislature Creates Wyoming’s first Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force – Governor Matt Mead to sign Senate File 8 on Monday February 29th

For Immediate Release

Contact Tim Young, tim@wyopath.org

Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Legislature passed Senate File 8, the Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force bill, last week with convincing margins in both the Senate and House. That completes the legislature’s work, and the bill moves on to Governor Mead to be signed into law on Monday February 29th.

This is the first ever state-level effort to study the benefits and opportunities of bicycle and pedestrian pathways and natural surface trails”, said Tim Young, Executive Director of Wyoming Pathways, a statewide organization that helped develop and promote the bill. “The Task Force will be a boost to communities around Wyoming as they work to enhance biking, walking and trail systems,” he said.

The bill was developed by the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee over the course of the past year as part of an Interim Study topic.  House Chair Ruth Ann Petroff from Jackson and Senate Chair Stan Cooper from Kemmerer led the committee meetings and heard strong public support in meetings around Wyoming. Rep. Eric Barlow R-Gillette helped introduce the bill in the House, and Senator Charlie Scott R-Natrona helped speak to the merits of the bill in the floor discussion and the need to help our communities share information and improve biking and walking opportunities around Wyoming.

Senate File 8 comes through the legislative process with minor amendments that should help improve the Task Force and the final report to be produced.  You can read the final bill here: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Enroll/SF0008.pdf

Purpose of the Bicycle Pedestrian System Task Force

The Task Force will be charged with developing a report to help local communities and state agencies, including WYDOT, State Parks, Health, Tourism, and the Business Council, to all better understand the opportunities and challenges of bicycle and pedestrian pathways and natural surface trails.

The Task Force will consider the economic benefits of bicycle and pedestrian pathways and natural surface trails through enhanced tourism opportunities. The report to be produced will also study health benefits to Wyoming residents of having access to close to home pathways and trails, and ways in which these benefits can best be attained.

Safety is an important element of the issues to be addressed as well. A tragic number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities have occurred around Wyoming in recent years, and the Task Force will analyze the crash records and study public safety needs and intervention programs that could help reduce fatalities and serious injuries.

To further assist communities, the bill calls for the Task Force to identify and evaluate options to fund the construction and maintenance of pathways and natural surface trails, including private and nonprofit sources along with local, state, and federal sources.

Potential Benefits to Wyoming Communities

Wyoming communities large and small are actively developing pathways and natural surface trails all around the state. There is also keen interest in developing more walkable business-friendly downtowns. Residents, communities, and local and state government will all benefit from sharing information and from the report the Task Force will produce on Bicycle and Pedestrian Pathways and natural surface trails.

No new funding is attached to the bill. Members of the public on the Task Force will pay their own expenses, and government staff costs would be covered through existing agency budgets. Amendments to the bill will encourage the use of web and phone conferencing to help cut down on cost. The key agencies impacted have testified that they would be able to provide the staff called for in the bill, and agreed there would be significant benefits to Wyoming from the proposed Task Force and reports that would be developed.