After a week of snow and temperatures well below normal, the sun comes outtoday. Temperatures remain on the cool side for a couple days, but compared to the start of the week they’ll be downright balmy.

Anyone who has been out on pathways and trails in and near Laramie knows they are busy places, especially when the weather is nice. With Covid-19 restrictions, use has seen an uptick, although it could also be due to people getting out enjoying the nice weather.

Scott Hunter, Parks Manager with the City of Laramie Parks and Recreation Department, said use is certainly up on nice days. The Greenbelt trail along the Laramie River has counters and the number of “hits” is up about 500 a month.

“I believe this is due to dog park closures and the lack of indoor physical activity options,” Hunter said. “I actually run on the Greenbelt daily and noticed a higher than normal use right after businesses closed for the pandemic.”

Other trails lack counters so use increases is less quantifiable. Still, Hunter said the Jacoby Ridge Path use is up, primarily with dog walkers as well as runners and walkers. There also are more users on bicycles.

Laramie’s newest path, Cirrus Sky, is quite popular with similar users. An upcoming improvement on this pathway will be the addition of dog bag dispensers and trash receptacles along the path.

Actual city park use is also up, but instead of seeing more college students, as usually occurs this time of year, it appears those using the parks are residents and families.

It still bears repeating that people need to be extra courteous and cognizant of others in this time of Covid-19. While the general guidance is to maintain at least six feet of distance from others, new research indicates more space is needed in some situations.

A Belgian-Dutch study reports their initial results lean toward a much greater spacing for those doing more vigorous activity such as fast walking, running and biking. While the study has yet to be peer-reviewed, the recommendations are being widely shared.

The researchers simulated the occurrence of saliva particles coming from individuals during movement and from different positions with others. They came up with the recommendation to stay out of the “slipstream” of others. In other words, give more space when running, walking, or cycling behind another person to avoid going through the air they just expelled.

They recommend that for walking, the distance for people moving in the same direction in one line should be at least 4 to 5 meters, which translates to 13 to 16 feet, considerably more than the six feet recommended for separation when people are stationary. For running and slow bike riding it should be 10 meters, or 32 feet, and for hard biking at least 20 meters, or 65 feet.

Pathways in Jackson Hole are seeing a considerable increase in use even with the colder weather. In fact, they’ve seen increases up to 403 percent compared to this time last year. This increase comes even though the weather has been less than cooperative.

In light of that, the Friends of Pathways in Jackson put out a list of tips for pathway users that is pertinent for the Laramie area as well. They offer the following:

For those doing a cardio workout: The best place for people breathing hard and sweating is on streets and roads, not on busy pathways.

If going with your dog, remember to keep your dog on a leash and pick up after your pet.

When biking on a pathway: Slow down and give ample space to pass after warning before passing; using a bell can be helpful in these situations.

When walking with your family: Don’t block the width of the pathway.

When walking with friends: The same recommendation but also stay six feet apart from your walking partner.

Getting outside, especially as the weather improves, can be very helpful and therapeutic in these difficult times. If the trails or pathways are particularly busy, possibly use a different location, wear a mask, or opt for different timing when there’s more elbowroom.

With a bit of consideration and personal responsibility, pathway and trail use can be safe for everyone wanting to escape their indoors quarantine.

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