Saturday, May 28, 2022

Pat Patterson Parkway Has Become a Favorite Place for Cyclists

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

The George G. “Pat” Patterson Parkway is a new favorite road for cyclists and pedestrians with a wide bike lane and sidewalks. Photo via Facebook/North Mississippi Gnarmadillos

Since it was completed in July 2019, the George G. “Pat” Patterson Parkway, has not only provided a connection from West Oxford Loop to Old Sardis Road, it has become a popular place for cyclists and pedestrians.

Commonly called Pat Patterson Parkway, the road provides wide bike lanes and a posted speed limit of 40 mph; however, not everyone pays close attention to the speed limit.

“I’m concerned about safety on Pat Patterson Parkway,” said Claude Gunter, a member of the Oxford Pathways Commission. “Especially on the stretch up to mTrade Park.”

Gunter said he and fellow Pathway Commission members have spoken to city officials about taking some steps to help make the parkway safer.

“We’d like to put up some solar signs that flash and tell people to slow down,” he said. “It’s one of Oxford’s best roads now and we’d like to see it designated, symbolically, as a recreational parkway. Not to rename it, but just to help draw attention to the fact that people are using it to jog and bike as well as walk to the (mTrade) park.”

Part of keeping a road safe includes keeping the bike lanes free from trash and litter.

Gunter, along with members of the youth cycling club, North Mississippi Gnarmadillos and other local cyclists will be meeting at 8 a.m. on Saturday on the Pat Patterson Parkway to pick up litter on the side of the road. The city of Oxford will be providing trash bags, gloves and other items for the litter collection.

“There is a lot of trash out there,” he said. “So we’re going to go clean it up. That area does not need to become another typical Mississippi highway. It’s a gateway and it needs to be a little more special.”

Gunter said anyone is welcome to join Saturday to help clean up Pat Patterson Parkway.

Oxford offers a slew of great biking experiences from the South Campus Rail-Trails to the Clear Creek Trails by Sardis Lake. Events, like the upcoming Velvet Ditch Gran Fondo on May 21, bring people from all over Mississippi and the mid-South.

Compared to many other Mississippi towns, Gunter said Oxford is one of the most cycling-friendly. However, while Lafayette County consists of miles of beautiful back roads with little traffic, stray dogs are a common problem for cyclists when outside of the city limits. There are no leash laws in the county.

Gunter said more than an annoyance, the issue of stray dogs, can and has been deadly.

Robby Tucker, 35, an avid cyclist was killed in July 2021 when a small pack of stray dogs ran in front of him in Abbeville, throwing him from his bicycle.

Gunter was riding alongside Tucker that day.

“He was the best rider in the group,” Gunter said of Tucker. “The dogs came out so fast, neither one of us had time to even flinch.”

Keeping safe is the responsibility of both the cyclist and the other vehicles on the road, Gunter said.

“A cyclist needs to make sure they can be seen and there is equipment they can put on their bikes, like lights, mirrors and even radar now,” he said. “Drivers just need to keep their eyes open and on the road, not speed and not text and we can then all share the roads safely.”