Two people have died and another was critically injured while riding bicycles on the Gulf Coast during the past three weeks. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, cyclists are getting together this weekend to remember them and raise awareness about sharing the road.
Rodney Watt points out some of the safety gear at his store, Cyclist’s Choice in Gulfport. It's been in business here 18 years, and during that time he's seen interest in cycling grow.
"Cycling is definitely a lot more popular now, especially on the road," he says. "We've gotten some more bike paths, but we definitely need more, especially for the safety of the cyclists."
The city of Biloxi opened two miles of new bike paths just this week.
Jeff McCormick of Gulfport began riding again on the coast about 3 years ago. Since then, he's had several close calls.
"Any time you go out for a ride, you're probably going to have one," he says. "The biggest one is people think we are going slower than we are, they go to pass you in an area they shouldn't pass, then they realize that there's another car coming toward them, and they end up moving over to keep from having a head-on collision, and they end up squeezing you off the road because you have no where to go. That's the most dangerous one."
McCormick is a board member of the Gulf Coast Bicycle Club, which is organizing a memorial ride on Sunday for the coast cyclists who have been injured or killed recently. McCormick says he hopes it will also raise awareness.
"Let people realize that we are out there," he says. "We have a right to be on the road. Take 10 extra seconds, slow down and go around us like you're supposed to. Don't speed past us and cut us off and squeeze us off the road, because it's pretty dangerous out there.
A 2010 Mississippi law mandates cars must give at least 3 feet of clearance to bicyclists.