KINGFISH – Give bikes the right

Jackson Free Press Editor Lacy McLaughlin writes a pretty good column on how challenging Jackson is for any cyclist:
“It seems pretty absurd that I would still need to depend on my car for transportation. I find this sentiment shared between myself and several other city dwellers. So why aren’t we riding our bikes to the farmers’ markets, work or museums?
Sadly, a cycling community Jackson is not. The thought of riding my bike up State Street to work invokes visions of a game of chicken with cars, trucks and SUVs that ends in death. Potholes, and broken sidewalks abound, and bike lanes are scarce.
The good news is that all this can change if a small group of determined cyclists and the city work together to promote a bike-friendly community.
The League of American Bicyclists, a national non-profit that promotes cycling, ranks Mississippi number 47 out of 50 for the league’s ranking of bike-friendly states.” Column

Ms. Mclaughlin is right as riding a bike in Jackson should qualify as combat training in someone’s army, and anyone doing so should automatically receive the Combat Cycling Badge. There are biking-friendly areas nearby such as the Natchez Trace, the Reservoir and Ridgeland. However, it defeats the purpose of cycling when one has to load a bicycle on the vehicle and carry it somewhere else when the whole point was to ride the bike in the first place.

It’s no surprise Madison isn’t keen on cycling as Mary hasn’t been able to convince the bicycle manufacturers to paint all bikes in a color that perfectly matches her beloved bricks. However, some leaders such as Mayor McGee are a little more progressive in their thinking:
“Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee, an avid cyclist himself, has worked closely with a task force made up of community members, the city engineer, parks and recreation services, and the local police department to promote and establish Ridgeland as a biking destination.
The city currently has plans to expand its multi-use trails, and each year it hosts several biking events such as the Natchez Trace Century Ride and the Mississippi Heatwave Triathlon. These events not only promote fitness but also draw thousands of visitors each and give the city’s tourism economy a boost….”

The main problem is Jackson is already built-up and it’s easier to add bike lanes and more bike-friendly features when an area is being developed. Adding bike lanes to Old Canton Road was a good start but it’s hard to see how streets such as Ridgewood, N. State Street, and others could be changed to better serve local cyclists. (I can hear some Two-Lakes Jihadist now screaming how Two Lakes could help cyclists as Mr. McGowan emails me a dozen charts in the next 30 seconds showing how cycling can be incorporated into the Two Lakes project.) However, change takes place when people look at a problem and then start working on a solution. Any change in this direction would be a welcome improvement to Jackson and make it more friendly to young people and families.

Note: Would someone tell me why out of the $800 billion dollars in so-called stimulus money that was passed there was none for a biking trail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans on the levee?

Jackson Jambalaya
8/19/9