Church, cyclist seek right path

BY ROBBIE WARD

Daily Journal Starkville Bureau

STARKVILLE – Members of a Catholic church and area cyclists hope to find a solution to allow elderly people to park near the church and people to ride bikes at the same time on Sundays.

While dozens of people ride bicycles along the bike path created about a year ago on University Drive, members of St. Joseph Catholic Church say the parking spots the path eliminated makes it harder for handicapped and elderly members to get to church.

Austin Vollor, a local attorney, asked the Board of Aldermen at a meeting earlier this month to add 13 parking spots along University Drive near the church from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. While the church's leaders agreed the bike path would add to the community before it was created, Vollor said fewer parking spots make trying to worship on Sundays harder.

“We believe it's a reasonable request,” Vollor told the aldermen.

Impossible task

City Engineer Bill Webb said it's nearly impossible to create parking spots just for 12 hours on Sundays because of paint required to designate the spaces. Mayor Dan Camp and the aldermen authorized members of the church and the cycling advocacy group, Starkville in Motion, to work out an agreement the groups can live with.

“It's a difficult issue for both groups involved,” said Patrik Nordin, a member of Starkville in Motion who helped plan the bike path. “We'd like to find a solution to this issue between the two groups.”

Vollor said the church members were open to compromise but needed more parking spaces. The two groups will make a report at City Hall during the first Board meeting in October.

Officials help

Before the two groups agreed to work together, some aldermen considered eliminating that portion of the bike path, causing concern from many cyclists. Mayor Camp and many of the seven aldermen said during their campaigns for office less than 18 months ago that they wanted Starkville to become a more “walkable, bikeable community.”

The city has applied for a federal grant to create another bike path starting at the southwest part of Starkville that would connect to Mississippi State University's campus.

Area interest appears to have spike in recent years. The university has begun creating more spaces for cyclists to park on campus.

Contact Robbie Ward at 418-4290 or robbie.ward@djournal.com