Pathways see progress, challenges
Oxford cyclists and pedestrians have new advantages in the past year and more to come, but the riding is still a little rocky in places, too – literally and figuratively.
“Progress over the last year has come in the areas of planning and implementation of infrastructure projects, the development of new policy and continued efforts to encourage and educate users,” said Pathways Commission Chairman Mike Mossing when he presented the group’s annual report to aldermen earlier this month.
The largest bicycle infrastructure project has been Phase 2 of the bikeways project, including College Hill and Old Sardis Roads, Old Taylor Road, South Lamar Boulevard and Belk Boulevard. New cycle tracks along Sisk Avenue to Oxford High School have been added to the existing bikeways in the Oxford Commons Area, making the trip to the new school safer for cyclists.
Mossing said ongoing projects include the Sisk Avenue underpass at Mississippi Highway 7 and the Old Taylor Road bridge over Mississippi Hwy. 6/U.S. Hwy. 78, the latter of which is under construction this summer. Mossing has expressed doubts the four-lane bridge with two-lane roundabouts at each end offers the best passage across the four-lane bypass for cyclists but acknowledges it is an improvement to the previous two-lane bridge.
Sidewalk projects, a pedestrian island on Molly Barr at the end of the Depot Trail and two new signalized crosswalks planned for Jackson Avenue are among enhancements either completed or in progress for pedestrians. Traffic-calming policies and structures in several neighborhoods have proven a boon for pedestrians and cyclists alike, Mossing said.
He added that interest in non-motorized travel either for recreation or for commuting is increasingly popular.
“A number of events including community rides and a ‘Bike to Work Day’ were held to encourage new and experienced cyclists,” Mossing said.
Inconsistencies in trails and lanes remain a challenge for bike riders.
“Although Phase 2 resulted in a large increase in the number of miles of bicycle facilities in Oxford, the network of routes lacks some critical connections, and intersection designs could be improved to match modern standards,” he said.
Mossing said the Pathways Commission’s goals for the coming year include refinement to Oxford’s “Complete Streets” policy, getting both the Oxford Park Commission and Oxford Police Department represented on the Commission, along with encouraging input from the Transit Commission and Disability Issues Committee. Pathways Commissioners will also push for standardization of “how cars, bikes, and pedestrians interact at intersections to make sharing the road simple, safe and obvious for all users,” he said.
Other priorities include having biking and walking design goals in city planning documents, having bike lanes cleaned regularly and identifying new areas where biking/pedestrian pathways would provide connectivity to key areas of interest.