SHARED SPACE: Tupelo adds first bike-share lane

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The city on Monday installed the first of what eventually will become a series of bike-share lanes through its ongoing effort to encourage physical activity and increase bicycle safety.
The lanes run north and south almost the entire length of Clayton Avenue, 1.3 miles, from Blair Street to Country Club Road. And they’re marked by a dozen bicycle legends emblazoned on the street, as well as signs every 200 or so feet alerting motorists that cyclists can use the full lane.
Unlike bike lanes, which segregate cyclists from vehicular traffic by a solid white line near the curb, bike-share lanes allow cyclists to use the same space as cars and trucks.
And though cyclists already have the right to ride any municipal street – with or with out the designation – a bike-share lane offers additional visibility and protection for those on two wheels.
“Drivers need to treat bikes as they would another vehicle” on the bike-share lane, as opposed to simply giving them a three-foot buffer as mandated by state law and local ordinance, said Donald Dykes, Public Works traffic control division crew leader.
Dykes and his crew applied the street signs and legends to the designated area, which are open and ready for cyclists starting today.
The project cost $3,200 and was funded by a Healthy Hometown Mississippi grant Tupelo had won two years ago from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said Tupelo Communications Director Annabeth Wyatt. The $25,000 grant also has paid for a water line at the Tupelo Farmer’s Market, health-related billboards at Crosstown and the city’s Health On A Shelf program.
Tupelo is applying for the 2012 BCBS grant and will use the bike-share lane project in its application, which is due this week, Wyatt said, adding that the top prize is $50,000.
Additional bike-share lanes will be added to the city as more funds become available.

emily.lecoz@journalin.com