Pathways seeks higher bike honor

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Oxford Pathways Commission is hoping Oxford is not only named a Bicycle Friendly Community for the third time, but also receives a higher designation in 2016.

In 2008, Oxford received a bronze rating from The League of American Bicyclists and was named a Bicycle Friendly Community. The designation is good for four years. In 2012, Oxford retained its bronze level.

The application to renew its status is due in August and Pathways commissioners are hoping to achieve a higher rank this year.

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Commissioner Greg Surbeck has been heading up the re-application process and showed a draft to the commissioners on Monday during the regular monthly meeting at City Hall. Surbeck said there was still work to be done on the application, including getting the correct mileage numbers for bike paths and learning whether the commission can use any of the University of Mississippi’s biking benefits in the city’s application. The university has received its own designation as a Bike Friendly Campus.

“One of the questions is if we have bike facilities next to a bus station,” he said. “In the city, no. But maybe there is on campus.”

Another area Surbeck said Oxford is lacking is bicycle education.

“They make it a special point to focus on educating children,” said Mike Mossing, former commission chairman, who still regularly attends the meetings. “If you don’t have that, you better be exemplary in everything else because that’s really important.”

The application focuses on five main areas, called the “Five E’s,” that include: Engineering — creating safe and convenient places to ride and park; Education — giving people of all ages and abilities the skills and confidence to ride; Encouragement — creating a strong bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling; Evaluation and planning — planning for bicycling as a safe and viable transportation option; and Enforcement — ensuring safe roads for all users.

A community can be awarded a bronze, silver, gold or platinum designation. As of November 2015, there are 267 bronze communities, 75 silver, 24 gold, and just five platinum designations, which include Madison, Wisconsin; Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado; Davis, California, and Portland, Oregon.