WEST GLACIER, MONT. – On May 5, the National Park Service and the Glacier National Park Conservancy (GNPC) launched a new NPS Centennial shuttle bus service for bicycle riders on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (GTSR). This free service will operate seven days a week through June 26 or when the GTSR opens to vehicles, whichever comes first. Operating hours for the shuttle will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with buses running every 20-25 minutes on weekends, and every 30-35 minutes during the week. The new service is a pilot project for the NPS Centennial in 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. As a pilot project, the details of the operation may be adjusted as more is learned about visitor use patterns, route timing and loading.
The new service is part of an innovative pilot project to study bicycle use in the park during the NPS Centennial year. The project is also intended to prevent resource damage that may be caused by congestion at Avalanche Creek, a popular staging location for bicyclists and hikers in the months before the GTSR opens to traffic. The $52,000 project was funded by a grant from Climate Ride to the GNPC. Climate Ride is a nonprofit organization that organizes life-changing charitable events to raise awareness and support sustainability, active transportation, and environmental causes. The Glacier Conservancy is the official fundraising partner for Glacier National Park providing funding for preservation, education, and research through philanthropy and outreach.
The grant includes two bike trailers, operation costs for the shuttle buses, bike counters for monitoring use on the road, equipment for a new volunteer bicycle patrol group, several bike racks and a new interpretive wayside exhibit and signs. The bike trailers can carry up to 16 bikes and have storage space for small wagons and bike trailers. Riders are expected to load their own bikes and equipment. The shuttle drivers will inspect the load and make sure that it is secure.
“This project embodies the spirit of the Centennial of the NPS. Combining philanthropy, collaboration and volunteerism it promotes a new and diverse user group in connecting with this special place,” said Phil Wilson, Chief of Science and Resources Management. If the project is successful in attracting riders and reducing congestion at Avalanche, the NPS may seek funding to continue the project in future years.