New bike path promotes outdoor living in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX)

As a cyclist, sharing the road with cars can be a daunting and dangerous task.

"The roads are narrow, there's no paved shoulder that are consistently wide enough for bikes and walkers," said Allison Hinkley of the Gulf Coast Bicycling Club.

"It's kind of scary because a lot of people do not respect bicycles and they try to come as close as they can because they want you off the road," said Cyclist Tommy Burrill.

However, bikers and walkers now have a place in Long Beach all their own.

"This is really a great step for Long Beach and it's going to be safe; people can bike or walk and families can be out there," said Discovery Trail Supporter Glenn Mueller.

The city recently celebrated its new Discovery trail which is a 1.2 mile paved loop that connects the city's recreation park and senior center.  The project is actually the brain child of a bunch of kids.

Back during the 2004-2005 school year, 13 fifth graders Mrs. Carol Paola's Quarles Elementary Discovery Class started a project.  They identified that there was no safe place in Long Beach for bikers or walkers.  So, with the support of city leaders, they began looking for ways to solve that. 

"They took this upon themselves. They wrote a grant, they found the grant, were able to secure the grant through the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and it was awesome," said Mueller.

The project was almost derailed after Hurricane Katrina.  However, city leaders, Mueller's company, RPM Pizza, and others got involved to make sure it came to fruition. 

For those who use it, the park is a great alternative to major road ways because it eliminates a lot of safety concerns.

"For one, you're not having to worry about cars. For two, we think most of it the scenery. It's quiet, it's nice; it's just kind of relaxing," said Hinkley. 

"It's fresh. It's new. It's smooth, and it's safe. You don't have people trying to run over you in the cars," said Burrill who rides the path nearly every day. 

Cyclists say there is a need for more bike paths, both on the roadways and off.  Burrill and Hinkley both hope that more cities will follow Long Beach's lead.

Supporters also say that there is a plan to expand the Discovery Trail, and make the entire city more bike friendly. 

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