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Officials want bike-friendly status


Tim Pratt



With a bicycle lane already connecting downtown to Mississippi State University, and another planned nearby, the city of Starkville in recent years has worked hard to provide safe transportation opportunities for cyclists. 


Now, city and tourism officials are looking into getting Starkville certified as an official bicycle-friendly community. 


Incoming Mayor Parker Wiseman and the city''s chief administrative officer, Lynn Spruill, met Friday with representatives of Starkville in Motion and Jennifer Glaze, of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, to discuss the League of American Bicyclists'' "Bicycle-Friendly Community" certification. The League has awarded the certification to less than 70 cities in the U.S.  


Glaze and Starkville In Motion members Joe Fratesi and Jim Gafford plan to begin the application process and submit it to the League before the August deadline.  


According to the League''s Web site, a committee reviews and scores each application and consults with cyclists in the community. The League then recognizes newly certified cities with an award ceremony, a Bicycle-Friendly Community road sign and a formal press announcement. 


Cities can be given platinum, gold, silver or bronze designations, which last four years. 


The League and its staff then work with award winners, and those communities that do not yet meet the criteria, to encourage continual community improvements. 


Even though the application process is lengthy and detailed, Glaze feels it is a worthwhile endeavor. 


"I think it would be really good for Starkville because, obviously if you drive into town and see a sign with this designation, that kind of is a quality-of-life thing, but also from a tourism standpoint, I think we might be able to attract new visitors," Glaze said, citing the possibility of bicycle races in town sometime in the future. "That''s what gets people in the hotels and the restaurants -- the races." 


Spruill said she would put the issue on the agenda for the new Board of Aldermen''s first meeting, set to take place July 7 in City Hall, to make sure city officials want to move forward with the application process. Both Wiseman and Spruill were excited about the possibilities. 


"I''d love to see people racing through the Cotton District and down Main Street," Spruill said. 


Fratesi and Gafford also said they plan to ask the Board of Aldermen in July to consider painting bicycle lanes along South Montgomery and Jackson streets. The roadways recently were overlaid, so SIM members feel now is as good a time as any to put in bicycle lanes.  


Spruill and Wiseman were concerned about whether or not the roadways are wide enough to accommodate traffic and new bike lanes. 


"Remember, we have big trucks on these roads with big, wide mirrors," Spruill said. 


But Fratesi and Gafford said the lanes, if approved, would make the roadways safer for cyclists. 


"People are riding along those roads anyway," Fratesi said. "We''re just looking for a way to have a designated space." 


Fratesi and Gafford said they would consult with City Engineer Edward Kemp to find out if the roads are wide enough to accommodate the new lanes.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Josh commented at 6/15/2009 5:26:00 PM:

Hell no South Montgomery isn't wide enough for the traffic that it handles AND a bike lane. I want more than anything to get the bikers off the road and out of my way, but unless they build a NEW bike path, that'll prolly never happen. I know if I rode a bike South Montgomery would be the LAST place I'd ride.


Article Comment Dan commented at 6/16/2009 10:03:00 AM:

Frankly, Starkville does not deserve this honor. The people behind this do not realize that sticking a bike lane here or there does not make a bike friendly town. Starkville's culture is too full of people like the previous commenter, who just want cyclists "off the road and out of my way." Plus, the one bike lane (on Main Street) is nothing but a gutter full of glass and an impediment to motorists and cyclists alike; not to mention the safety issues that come from the way it weaves all over the pavement. The Bike League should hold these people's feet to the fire and NOT award the designation without some serious cultural changes first.


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