JACKSON, Wyo. — As families with young daughters rode bikes on the newly completed Jackson-Moose pathway, Liza Bercovici found herself thinking of another girl who could have used a pathway.
Bercovici's daughter, Gabriella Axelrad, known as Gabby to her parents, died in a bike-versus-car accident on the road near Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park in 1999. She was 13 years old.
The Jackson-Moose pathway is the final link in a network of bike and pedestrian paths that allows people to travel from Jackson to Jenny Lake without ever using a road. Friends of Pathways, a local nonprofit that advocates for bike access, held a celebration ride earlier this month to mark the completion of the link.
"I saw all those children using the pathway, and I thought about how those little girls will not have to meet the same fate my daughter did," Bercovici said. "They will be safe."
Bercovici and her husband, David Axelrad, have returned to Jackson Hole every year since their daughter died.
They have come as advocates for pathways and safe bike and pedestrian access.
They were two of around 200 attendees at the celebration ride and the community barbecue that followed. The event started with a ride on the new path, where participants could spend an hour riding as far as they chose on the way to Jenny Lake.
Axelrads and Bercovici participated in the ride, going all the way to Jenny Lake and back.
"It means the world to us to be here," Axelrad tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://bit.ly/RYGtvV). "We think about Gabby every day. If this pathway had been there, she would be here with us today."
The 12-mile Jackson-Moose pathway completed the 20-mile network, bringing the total number of pathway miles in Jackson Hole to 55, said Brian Schilling, Teton County and Town of Jackson Pathways Coordinator.
The celebration brought out many families and Jackson Hole residents to ride the pathway.
Among those participants were Derek Collins, his wife, Elizabeth Collins, and their young daughter.
The Collinses used to live in Driggs, Idaho, but moved to Jackson partly because of the chance to ride as a family on the area's bike paths, Elizabeth said.
With another child due this fall, safety is a high priority for the Collins family, she said.
Teton County Commission Chairman Ben Ellis said he and his son use valley pathways on a regular basis.
"I think it's great that we have this new way to explore Grand Teton National Park and to experience the outdoors that help make our community unique," Ellis said.