OXFORD - Bicyclists in Oxford will have the option to ride a bus for one part of their trip and their bikes for another to skirt either inclement weather or troublesome traffic.

Aldermen voted this week to equip five Oxford-University Transit buses with front-mounted racks to hold two bikes each at a total cost of slightly more than $6,300.

Four larger buses donated from the Charlotte, N.C., transit system to be used when OUT adds three new routes in January were already thus equipped.

Mike Mossing, who bikes 1.5 miles from his home to his teaching job at the University of Mississippi, said he won't need the racks himself, but he can envision those who would.

For people with longer commutes, a split bus-bike ride could "get people a long distance through a sketchy or busy road from home to campus or downtown," he said. "From there people can bike from place to place in a more [bike] friendly environment."

Mossing is chair of the Oxford Pathways Commission, whose mission is to improve walking and biking opportunities in the town.

Fellow Pathways Commissioner Kate Kellum noted the particular challenge of one of the city's busiest streets.

"I would [bike] on West Jackson [Avenue] myself, but I know many who wouldn't," she said.

Kellum noted that having buses equipped with bike racks also means bicyclists will be able to bike to work or school on pleasant mornings and to take the bus home if the weather turns wet or cold - or vice versa.

"I know many people who use a bike as their primary transportation who would love to have both options," she said. Just how much any cyclist would use the option "depends on where you live," she added.

Aldermen will vote Jan. 5 on another measure to make Oxford more attractive for alternative forms of transportation.

The proposed ordinance, similar to one Tupelo adopted recently, would require motorists to give bicyclists, pedestrians, equestrians and roadside workers a wide berth - a full lane if possible or, if not, at least a three-foot cushion.

Karen Mogridge, executive director of Bike Walk Mississippi, told aldermen at a public hearing on the issue, "This is truly important in the safety of people on bikes and on foot."

Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

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