ONE RIDE ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS

Colleen Ferris to apply lessons learned from bicycle ride to new post
By: 
Johnathan Hettinger —
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Photos courtesy of Eric Ian

Colleen Ferris sets up camp June 2 on Bureau of Land Management land north of Separ, New Mexico.

Ferris rides her bike July 9 west on Grassy Lake Road between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

Fresh off the trail, Colleen Ferris is full of ideas. Ferris was recently named chairwoman of the Active Transportation Coalition, a group of citizens and county officials who are working to make Park County more walkable, bikeable and transit friendly.

Previously, Park County Health Department Director Jacquelyn Isaly, who started that role in May, served as chair of the coalition, but she left for a new job earlier this month.

Ferris spent her summer riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, a 2,800-mile trip from New Mexico to Banff, Alberta — the longest off-pavement bike route in the world.

The route goes through public land, on county roads, gravel and dirt roads and some singletrack.

“Of course they send you through rural America, but we ended up in some of these towns that were the most bike friendly,” Ferris said.

After a summer of riding through towns — seeing the best and the worst — Ferris now has first-hand knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Every three days or so, Ferris and her partner, Eric Ian, would go into a town to stock up on supplies. She said doing that made her realize what is important — a place to lock up bikes, a bench to sit on, a destination where people can go when there is poor weather.

And it’s not just large cities that have solutions.

“Livingston can no longer give the excuse that we’re too small for things like this or that we don’t deserve x, y and z,” Ferris said.

Ferris works as the community and partnerships manager for the Park County Environmental Council and was previously a member of the coalition.

The coalition’s work can be seen around town, in the form of the pedestrian flags at the corner of Park and Main streets, and the coalition will soon have curb extensions at Fifth and Callender streets to show what a potential solution they could be for slowing traffic.

County Planner Mike Inman said that the Park County Environmental Council taking over the leadership role is important because it will be able to privately raise money for projects, as well as continue to make it a joint effort between the county and the city.

Currently, the city has no board members, Ferris said, but they help with projects like the pedestrian flags.

Ferris said the ride will help her do a better job.

“This directly relates to my role in town, to work with the community and collaborate and facilitate and bring ideas back, so our community can continue to safeguard our resources,” Ferris said. “I learned a lot from other places I visited this summer.”

And as for the Active Transportation Coalition role, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I was seeing all of this in real life,” Ferris said. “There’s nothing like two months on your bike and then jumping into this position to get me more stoked.”