History

Bike Walk Mississippi (then known as the Bicycle Advocacy Group of Mississippi) was founded in 1992.

 

It all started when founders, Sue Pitts and Paul Hicock saw a public hearing announcement on the Federal Transportation Bill passed in 1991 ("Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act") appeared in The Clarion-Ledger.  Sue and Paul contacted local cyclists and 25 showed up at the meeting - in fact, the entire meeting only had a total attendance of 26! One of those present was current Board member Ken Seawright who had been trying to influence the Natchez Trace Parkway to accommodate cyclists on the segment of the Parkway planned for the Jackson area. The desire to have a voice in Federal Highway spending for statewide roads as well as the increased need for cycling accommodations on the Natchez Trace were the impetus for forming the Bicycle Advocacy Group of Mississippi now known as Bike Walk Mississippi.  

 

Some of the first accomplishments that Bike Walk advocates were able to influence include working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to develop the “Mississippi Statewide Transportation Improvement Program’ to outline the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan including successfully asking MDOT to add photos of a cyclist and a pedestrian to the cover of the brochure.   Soon, representatives from Bike Walk Mississippi traveled to Washington, DC. and met with members of Congress regarding accommodations for cyclists on the sections of the Natchez Trace that were soon to be constructed resulting in representatives from Bike Walk MS joining the planning team for the National Park Service regarding the Natchez Trace.

 

The first decade: 1992-2002

 

Over the first decade, Bike Walk Mississippi hosted many public meetings to inform the public about cycling and pedestrian activities, assisted in railbanking abandoned right of ways for future bicycle trail projects.  Some of the early accomplishments include: 

 

  • Bike Walk MS was added as a voting member on the technical committee for the Central Mississippi Planning and worked with the CMPDD to begin planning a comprehensive bikeways network.  

  • Bike Walk MS played an important role in obtaining the right of way and getting the citizens of Hattiesburg organized to build what is today the Longleaf Trace

  • Bike Walk MS worked with Desoto National Forest on the establishment of an off-road trail in North Mississippi, successfully consulted with the Vicksburg Military Park and the City of Vicksburg to accommodate cyclist specific needs.

  •  On the statewide level, Bike Walk worked with the Governor to declare a statewide Bike to Work Day.  

  • Bike Walk board members Paul Hicock and Lee Dorr worked with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to re-write and adopt new language pertaining to the treatment of cyclists in the Mississippi Driver’s Manual.  

  • Bike Walk MS sponsored bicycle safety spots on television stations in three parts of the state; one spot was directed at motorists, one at adult cyclists, and one at child cyclists.  

  • Three board members of Bike Walk Mississippi, Tom Martin, Lee Dorr, and Ray Duncan met with Susan Jones regarding improvements that could be made the Mississippi River Trail and two of Bike Walk's board members, Sue Pitts and Elmer Beardshall, were appointed to the Mississippi Recreational Trails Committee to assist in determining projects to be funded by the National Recreational Trails Funding Program. 

  • BAGM continued to call for members to write the Natchez Trace and our senators and congressmen regarding the plans for cyclists in the new section to be constructed around Jackson.

  • BAGM continued working with agencies responsible for railtrails in Hattiesburg and around the Barnett Reservoir in Jackson.

  • BAGM members Tom Martin, Ray Duncan, and Frank Moak assisted in the selection of the route for the Mississippi River Trail (MRT).  Lee Dorr was appointed to the Board of the MRT.

  • Numerous BAGM members worked with the City of Jackson Planning Division on the Bicycle Plan for 2020.  Although the city paid a consultant for the work, the resulting plan was almost all the work of BAGM.

  • BAGM board member Lee Dorr spoke to the Driver Education Conference sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education.  He presented the changes in the Driver’s Manual and discussed the need for motorists to understand how to interact with cyclists. 

  • Ray and Cathy Duncan attended training and passed the exam to become Mississippi’s first certified Effective Cycling Instructors (ECI). The League of American Bicyclists conducts this program. 

  • Paul Hicock, representing BAGM, worked with CMPDD on an advisory subcommittee to develop plans for bikeways in the three county area served by CMPDD.

  • Ray Duncan and BAGM worked to prevent the old Mississippi River Bridge at Vicksburg from being sold to the railroad and instead to convert it to a bicycle and pedestrian park. 

  • BAGM was represented on the Mississippi Department of Transportation Enhancement Program Evaluation Committee by Sue Pitts.  Ray Duncan, Ken Seawright, and Paul Hicock assisted Sue in studying the 60 proposals, about half of which were for bicycle and/or pedestrian facilities. BAGM was thus able to influence the appropriation of Enhancement funds.

  • BAGM continued to contact the Natchez Trace and Washington about the need for cycling accommodations on the new section of the Trace now under construction.

  • 2000 BAGM assisted ASD, an organization in charge of the textbook to be used by Mississippi Driver’s Education, License to Drive in Mississippi. We are listed as a resource.

  • BAGM assisted Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation in supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  

  • BAGM assisted the Bienville National Forest in gathering opinions on the best use of  our National Forests in Mississippi.

  • BAGM continued to contact the Natchez Trace and Washington about the need for cycling accommodations on the new section of the Trace now under construction.

  • Sue Pitts, representing BAGM, served on the Advisory Committee of the Mississippi Unified Long-range Transportation Infrastructure Plan (MULTIPLAN). 

  • The Mississippi Recreational Trails Committee, formed in 1996 as required by the National Recreational Trails Funding Program, at long last had a meeting. An emergency meeting was called when the program was found not to be in compliance with federal regulations. 

  • BAGM continued to contact the Natchez Trace and Washington about the need for cycling accommodations on the new section of the Trace now under construction.

  • BAGM board member Lee Dorr serves on the Mississippi River Trail  and is working to get MDOT to publish a map of the Mississippi segment.

  • Sue Pitts worked with the Natchez Trace to print a map to guide cyclists through the construction in the Jackson area. 

  • Ray Duncan is maintaining contact with officials about converting the old Mississippi River Bridge to a bike and pedestrian park. Ray and BAGM intend to keep this issue alive. Ray is investigating the possibility of leasing the bridge from the county.  The MRT would like to have this bridge as part of its route.

  • BAGM applied for a grant from the city of Jackson to provide bicycles and training to two low-income workers who have no transportation to work.  BAGM would (1)talk with the employers about a place to keep the bikes and a way for the employees to clean up (2) help the workers to select bikes, bags, locks, and helmets (3) work out safe routes(4) educate the workers on safety and maintenance (5)ride the routes with the workers .

 

The 2nd decade: 2002-2012:

 

 

 

The current decade: 2013 - 2016: