Bike Lanes Seldom Busy

Bicycle riders have had their own space on a busy stretch of Lorraine Cowan Road for three years now. Trouble is, they seldom use it.

But a future extension of the bike lanes could attract more riders.

Most traffic on busy Lorraine Cowan Road is the four wheel variety. But there is a paved lane set aside for bike riders in both directions between the industrial seaway and the interstate.

"Well, I don't think enough people ride bikes, that's the thing," said Biloxi resident, Kevin Williamson.

He rides the bike lanes at least once a week, but admits the Lorraine Cowan lanes are often vacant.

Williamson likes the ride because designated space gives bike riders an extra margin of safety.

"It makes it a lot easier and you don't have to worry about traffic as much," he said.

The bike lane ends at I-10. M-DOT recently posted a large sign, warning bicyclists and motorists. Long range plans call for extending the bike lanes northward to Highway 67.

"As it's completed hopefully all the way north, it will give a lot of the road bike guys more distance to ride and then all the communities along the way places to ride," said bicycle shop owner, Randy Watt.

He says the stretch on Lorraine Cowan is simply too short for many serious bicyclists, who often do at least 50 miles on a single ride.

Watt also says tourists and new residents are among the biggest supporters and promoters of building new bike lanes and trails.

"We're having more and more people move in from out of state where there are just multiple bike lanes. There's cities now that have bike lanes all across their city," Watt said.

That's certainly not the case on the coast, although the Lorraine Cowan bike lanes do represent a start.

The Coast Bicycle Club is partly responsible for the bike lanes on Lorraine Cowan. The club convinced M-DOT to apply for available federal money that helped pay for the project.