Editor's note, 1/2018: Sadly, the Bike Fleet became "homeless" several years later and was eventually sold off.
In a novel one-block bicycle race, local leaders and officials will be peddling their way to the finish line on the evening of Second Saturday in Old Town Bay St. Louis. The event begins at 6pm on July 9th on Gex Street (by the courthouse) to raise awareness about the new community bike fleet.
The first of its kind on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the fleet was purchased with a grant obtained by Live Oak Alliance (LOAM) through the MS Gulf Coast National Heritage Area program. Since the cost of the new beach cruisers was covered by the grant, the bikes will rent for a nominal fee ($7.50 per day) to cover the costs of administration and maintenance.
Bay Breeze, 111A Main Street in Bay St. Louis, will be hosting the fleet. Owner John Adams says that the fee includes helmets and bike locks. For younger members of the family, tow-behind trailers for toddlers are available. Each bike also comes equipped with a packet of visitor information, including the guide for the 1.5 mile walking/biking historic tour of Bay St. Louis.
LOAM director Marcie Baria, says that the bike fleet is only one of the projects on the organization’s long list of plans to develop Hancock County as a “very biking, walking, canoe, kayak-friendly place.”
To establish the area as a premier eco-tourism destination, LOAM (a fund of the Hancock Community Development Foundation) is working in cooperation with several local organizations, including the Hancock Chamber’s Greenways Committee. The committee, headed by Ron Magee, recently saw fruition of over eight years of its own efforts, when in April 43 miles of Hancock roadways officially became part of the state’s byway system - creating the only coastal county routes in Mississippi.
“There are plans in the works for a comprehensive set of biking, walking and birding trails,” Baria says. “And the county’s first Blueways has also been established on the Jourdan River this year.”
Families who take advantage of the community bike fleet will soon have some high-tech options to help them explore the area: the development of Byways signage, maps, brochures and even GPS apps are underway.
Magee, who is also NASA’s Assistant to the Director of Center Operations at Stennis Space Center, is thrilled to see the program taking off. “We will be incorporating GPS technology in moving visitors around the Byways,” said Magee. “What a great way to use NASA technology in this ecotourism experience.”
For more information on bike fleet rentals, call Bay Breeze at (228) 466-3333. For complete details on the new Byways system, contact the Hancock Chamber at (228) 467-904