"It is now the policy of the Miss. Transportation Comm. that any new highway or any totally reconstructed highway, that the staff will evaluate it for the possibility of a bike path," said Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall at the bypass ribbon-cutting Wednesday.
The first vehicles to officially get a ride on the new roadway were bicycles.
"We think it's wonderful. It's gonna create a healthier Mississippi," said one cyclist of the new policy.
"I support any effort to make cycling a safer activity and a more accepted mode of transportation," said another.
While Hall did not discuss the rationale behind the new policy, it should be noted that some areas oft used by cyclists do not have designated areas for cyclists and that has proven fatal. The Natchez Trace Parkway has been a favorite of cyclists who travel all or portions of the stretch from Natchez to Nashville, solely on a bicycle.
Hall did not say if it cost any extra to make part of the new $19 million roadway a bicycle path.
In 2012 Dr. Gary Holdiness, of Kosciusko, an avid and safe by all accounts cyclist, died when he was struck from behind by a vehicle near his hometown while preparing for an Alaskan cycling trek.
Before his death Holdiness and others successfully supported efforts that led to Mississippi passing the "three ft. rule", that requires motorists to allow a three ft. birth for cyclists on roadways anywhere in the state.
So, it is obvious that awareness of the cycling community is growing. While some find their presence on roadways annoying, others are looking for ways to move them from the main lane to the designated bike lane, where safety may be more likely.
"So you're gonna see, hopefully, more and more of these as we build more projects," said Hall.