As soon as he caught sight of the neon bike pins on the lapels of his Mississippi constituents, Senator Thad Cochran smiled. “I remember my first bike like it was yesterday,” he said.
This morning, four Mississippi advocates visited the Senator whose name is recognized by bicyclists from coast to coast as the co-sponsor of the Cardin-Cochran amendment that restored funding for biking and walking in the Senate transportation bill. The Republican leader recognized the importance of allowing local policymakers the ability and flexibility to determine how federal dollars are spent in their communities — and his leadership proved critical in getting the Cardin-Cochran amendment included in the base bill passed by the Senate this month.
To thank him, Bike Walk Mississippi members presented Cochran with a Leadership Award from the League.
During the meeting, the Mississippi advocates discussed the benefits of biking and walking, and the importance of local control in transportation decisions.
James Moore, owner of Moore’s Bicycle Shop, highlighted the impact of the Long Leaf Trace Trail on his Hattiesburg business, including doubling his sales and dramatically growing his staff.
Tammy Devin of the Gulf Coast Heritage Trail Partnership talked about the eco-tourism promise of a new trail that will run along the coast from the Alabama to the Louisiana state lines, and the economic development potential of a proposed bike trail in downtown Biloxi.
Jeff Peel, board member for Bike Walk Mississippi (and former League staffer), underlined the importance of federal dollars flowing to mayors and local communities, instead of being tied up in state DOTs, and the potential for bicycle projects to ease congestion in urban areas.
And Melody Moody, executive director of Bike Walk Mississippi, invited Sen. Cochran to join her for a ride when a new trail opens in Jackson — or even pull on some construction boots and help them break ground.
As we move forward on the next transportation bill, we’re lucky to have leaders like Sen. Cochran supporting local control and transportation options. Thank you, Senator, for your work and leadership!
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.