Executive Director Tim Young Attends National Bike Summit and Meets with Wyoming Delegation in D.C.

While Washington DC its a long way away, its our nation’s capital and extremely helpful to visit our Delegation and keep up on federal issues, opportunities and threats to biking, walking and trail programs in Wyoming.

In March, Brian Schilling, the Teton County Pathways Coordinator, and I attended the 18th annual National Bike Summit in DC. We were able to visit with our U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, and Congressman Liz Cheney, all at the Wyoming Wednesday event, where each week the Delegation hosts an open house for people from Wyoming visiting DC.

I told Congressman Liz Cheney, “we’re neighbors, I’m from Wilson”. We talked about the local pathways, and Rep. Cheney said she and her kids rides bikes on the Wilson Centennial Pathway in their neighborhood, and that her kids “ride their bikes all the time on the pathway”. I shared that I was the project leader for that pathway some years ago, and that Brian oversaw building the new pathway bridge over the Snake River and pathway along WY-22 from Wilson to Jackson.
Always good to see US Senator John Barrasso. We congratulated him on earning the Chairman’s job on the prestigious Environment and Public Works Committee. He’s the first Senator ever from Wyoming to lead EPW. Among other duties, the EPW committee will write the next transportation bill. I asked about the possible Trump Infrastructure Bill, said Wyoming needs some good pathway projects on that list. Never know unless you ask right? Senator Barrasso cautioned about where the money would come from, of course. But pathway advocates around Wyoming should keep an eye on this, as some type of infrastructure bill could happen by fall or next year, and Wyoming has good pathway projects to include.
Good visit with US Senator Mike Enzi also. We thanked him for being the lead Senate sponsor for the successful Trails Stewardship Act, which will help the Forest Service with trail maintenance. We asked for his help to follow up with the FS and be sure that they consider National Forests in Wyoming for the list of Priority Areas the Act requires the FS to select and improve trails and partnerships with local communities.

The Summit itself had good conference break out sessions. I attended presentations by other state wide bicycle advocacy groups, some quite impressive. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Bike Minnesota, Local Motion in Vermont, Cascade Cycling in WA state, Street Trust in OR – all have quite robust programs, some that we might be able to adapt to Wyoming.

One thing that was interesting, some state groups have local Chapters that they provide the umbrella 501c3 nonprofit status for. The chapters engages in local advocacy at the county or city level. The goal is to help smaller communities effect policy change and build local government support. That’s something Wyoming Pathways could potentially provide if there was a need in Wyoming.

Oregon hosts an impressive Bicycle Tourism Summit by Cycle Oregon, a state tourism funded group that teaches local towns how to build up and support bike tourism. Cycle Oregon has a plan to build a long distance singletrack trail from north to south across the state from WA to CA. They are building signature routes that have hut to hut options for overnights and bike packing adventures. Great examples Wyoming tourism to look into, and maybe our WY Bicycle Pedestrian Task Force can recommend.
Bike Minnesota (and other statewide groups) has been successful getting some federal funding approved by their State DOTs that they use for significant bicycle and pedestrian safety education and encouragement programs. There is a need for something similar here. Wyoming Pathways applied to WYDOT last year, but was unsuccessful. Perhaps studying other groups programs can help next try.
Maine has a cool “Spokes” program, training for locals to become better community advocates to participate in state DOT planning projects for state highways; training helps locals understand the process, public comment, and training in state of the practice bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure designs. Trainings so far have been held in 71 communities and 16 counties, impressive.
FHWA staff from the Office of Human Environment gave some great talks, which show how much improvement there has been at US DOT in support for biking and walking. They have a ton of helpful reports and resources recently available. We will post a summary list of these resources, a wealth of info that might help Wyoming. Its good stuff to have in hand when meeting with WYDOT to discuss improving facilities and programs for nonmotorized modes.
We attended an interesting talk about bicycle tourism. Adventure Cycling, the national group for touring cyclists, showed new research that the “longer the trail, the further people will travel to ride it”. They also showed research of bike tourist spending, which shows they spend more per day than car-based travelers. Apparently, cyclists quite enjoy their food and drink after a day in the saddle.
One threat we heard about at the Bike Summit, we could see renewed attacks from some in Congress on federal funding for bicycling and walking programs. I asked Senator Barrasso directly to resist these bad ideas, and made the case that all around Wyoming our communities are investing in biking and walking, and that there is strong community support statewide. Wyoming only spends 1.2% of federal transportation funding on bike/walk/trail type projects, but its sure important to keep it.