Advocacy & Policy Updates
Bike Walk Mississippi is your statewide voice for bicycle and pedestrian advocacy. This means that we work with elected officials, municipal leaders and local decision makers and local advocates across the state to supply them with the resources and tools they need to take action toward building more bike able and walkable communities. As your statewide advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, we are always looking out for your needs and keeping up to date with any changes that may interrupt, support or relate to concerns for biking and walking issues in Mississippi and across the U.S. We know that you rely on Bike Walk Mississippi to boldly act to meet the needs for safer streets, healthier citizens and opportunities for increased recreation and alternative transportation.
What follows is our analysis of the most current issues facing biking and walking issues in Mississippi.
State Policy & Advocacy Updates:
We begin with 2017 Mississippi Legislature, now in session. Bike Walk Mississippi has been watching potential positive and negative bills in regards to bicycling and walking in our state. We have kept on eyes on these bills and have been keeping your interests in mind. Yesterday, January 31st was the deadline for bills to either pass to the floor or die in committee.
We have compiled a list of dead and "not yet dead" bills that we’ve been watching below:
SB 2801: Complete Streets Bill
This bill would have required MDOT to develop a complete streets program that would provide for the needs of all types of users, including motorists, public transit, bicyclists and pedestrians and asked that these group's needs be considered in planning, programming, design construction, reconstruction, retrofitting, operations and maintenance activities, and services for the sake of improved access and mobilities.
- Updated Status: DEAD. This bill, authored by Senator Dawkins was referred to the Highways and Transportation committee, where it died.
SB 2452: Requirement of Bicycles to be equipped with lamp and reflector safety equipment.
This bill would have required every bicycle to be equipped with a white light on the front, visible from a distance of at least (500) feet and equipped with a rear reflector or lamp visible from a distance of at least(600) feet to the rear. This bill would require lights for bicyclists riding on the roadway during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise or other times with sufficient light.
Updated Status: DEAD. This bill, authored by Senator Jolly was referred to the Highways and Transportation committee, where it died earlier this week.
HB 877: Abolish elected Mississippi Transportation Commissioners
This bill would have abolished the elected Transportation Commissioners and instead created a Governor appointment position to oversee MDOT.
Updated Status: DEAD. This bill authored by Representative Chism was referred to the Highways and Transportation committee, where it died.
HB 25: Rumble Strips
This bill would require MDOT to install rumble strips along the shoulders of roadways when they are constructed or resurfaced. This bill states that after 7/1/17, whenever any highway, road or street under the jurisdiction of MDOT is constructed or resurfaced, or the shoulder of any highway, road or street under its jurisdiction is improved, MDOT shall include as a part of the project, the installation along the shoulders or edges of the roadway, rumble strips or similar safety features which create an audible warning to a motor vehicle operator whose vehicle travels off the primary driving surface of the roadway. The exceptions to this are: 1. Low speed zones within municipalities, areas sensitive to noise pollution (schools, churches, hospitals) and roads with insufficient shoulder that would require acquisition of additional right-of-way.
Updated Status: PASSED TO FLOOR. This bill authored by Representative Formby was referred to the Highways and Transportation committee, who passed a version of the bill to the floor.
Worth Noting: We also have some concerns about the gas tax and it's implications for multi-modal investments. We are watching this and continuing our conversations with state agencies to include bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in road improvements, particularly in regards to re-paving and bridge repair. We will continue to keep you up to date on these issues.
Federal Policy Updates:
For these issues, we work with our national partners at the League of American Bicyclists, Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership, People for Bikes, Rails to Trails National Conservancy and America Walks. We will continue to work with these partners and to represent you on the national level. With a new administration, we will have to continue to watch and see what happens. All we really know right now is that President Trump has called for infrastructure improvements during his tenure. We do not have clear knowledge whether or not this means an investment in bicycling and walking infrastructure as part of the overall transportation vision. We also know that we have a recently confirmed new Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao. She is the wife of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and has previously served as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation as well as the Secretary of Labor. Secretary Chao has not explicitly stated her support or lack of support for bicycle and pedestrian specific issues, but we know that the FAST ACT put a lot of focus on safety and performance measures. According to our national partners (mentioned above), she also seems supportive of TIGER. Sign THIS LETTER to Transportation Secretary Chao from Smart Growth America asking her to include people walking and biking as well as driving as part of the overall Transportation Vision at US DOT.
The National Bike Summit : Every year, Bike Walk Mississippi attends the National Bike Summit, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, where we look at and learn from national best practices, share our experiences pushing biking and walking issues in Mississippi and attend Lobby Days on Capitol Hill. Our Executive Director, Melody Moody-Thortis has serve as the Mississippi Coordinator for past six years, scheduling and leading meeting with Mississippi Congressmen and Senators. Each year, Bike Walk Mississippi works with the League to determine appropriate “asks” along with sharing success stories from across the state of Mississippi. These success stories are absolutely KEY to our work on the national level and many of these stories from Mississippi have been shared as national successes as well. We have some great stories to tell with the economic impact of the Tanglefoot Trail, the Longleaf Trace and many other projects that have directly effected the communities of Mississippi. See #3 below to see how you can help!
So, what’s next? Well, this is where you come in! We need you to tell our elected officials know that you care about bicycle and pedestrian issues. They hear from us all the time, but now they need to hear from you! We outlined below 3 THINGS for you to action on now.
It’s as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!
1. Send a quick email to THANK your local Transportation Commissioner for their commitment to bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Our Transportation Commissioners have always been supportive of local projects for biking and walking - they are elected by the people and they want to hear from you! They know how important these projects are to communities across the state but they need to know just how much you appreciate that they understand that bicyclists and pedestrians are part of the overall Transportation system and how important sidewalks, multi-use paths and trails are to you!
Our ask to the Commissioners is clear - ask your Commissioner to continue their support by:
Supporting a continued effort to include bicycle accommodations in their re-paving and bridge repair efforts.
Specifically, we are asking them to consider the needs of bicyclists when applying rumble strips to Mississippi roads and asking them (in accordance with best practices), that any rumble strip policy include a minimum clear space of 4 feet for bicycles between the rumple strip to the edge of the paved shoulder. Let them know that you understand that finances are tight, and that by including these accommodations in the repair and re-paving efforts, they can save money long-term while providing for different users.
Tell them clearly that motorists and bicyclists needs should be considered.
And, finally, THANK THEM AGAIN for their support!
Northern District: Mike Tagert, firstname.lastname@example.org
Central District: Dick Hall, email@example.com
Southern District: Tom King, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Show-me Events: Bike Walk Mississippi’s focus this year will be to collect and promote successful bicycle and pedestrian projects across Mississippi. Bike Walk Mississippi would like to work with local advocates to schedule “Show-me” events within each of Mississippi’s 4 Congressional Districts. We would like to work with you to schedule outreach events within each district where we can show members of Congress the true community impact of these projects.
Have a project in mind that you’d like to show off? Let us know by emailing email@example.com and let’s talk about scheduling an event this Spring or Fall with your Congressional Representative where we can remind them how much these projects mean to Mississippians.
3. Do you have a Representative on the Senate or House Transportation Committee?
House Transportation Committee Members:
Charles Busby, Chairman; Steve Massengill, Vice-Chairman
Members: William Tracy Arnold; Mark Baker; Manly Barton; Cedric Burnett; Larry Byrd; Bryant W. Clark; Dana Criswell; Oscar Denton; John G. Faulkner; Robert Foster; Andy Gipson; D. Stephen Holland; Abe Hudson; Chris Johnson; Robert L. Johnson III; Vince Mangold; Doug McLeod; Alex Monsour; John L. Moore; Brent Powell; Thomas U. Reynolds; Rob Roberson; Jody Steverson; Preston E. Sullivan; Brad Touchstone; Jerry R. Turner; Cory Wilson
Senate Transportation Committee Members:
Willie Simmons, Chairman; Dennis DeBar, Jr., Vice-Chairman
Members: Barbara Blackmon; Nickey Browning; Hob Bryan; Bob M. Dearing; Sally Doty; Tommy A. Gollott; Josh Harkins; John Horhn; Billy Hudson; Russell Jolly; Dean Kirby; Chris Massey; J. Walter Michel; Philip Moran; Rita Potts Parks; Bill Stone; Chuck Younger
If you have a representative on either of these Committees, NOW is the time to begin building your relationship with them, letting them know that you are a runner, cyclist and supporter of bicycle and pedestrian issues as part of the Transportation system in Mississippi. Ask them if you can take them for a walk, run or on a bike ride to see these local projects (or lack thereof). Don't forget to let us know who you talk to and what they said by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
What else can you do to support the advocacy efforts for bicycling and walking in Mississippi? Bike Walk Mississippi relies on donations from supporters like you. Show your love for Bike Walk Mississippi
by making a donation to allow us to continue to work on your behalf.
Add your voice today. Donate online HERE.