UM, Oxford Improve Safety for Cyclists, Pedestrians

Complete Streets pop-up experiment to affect sections of University Avenue in July

OXFORD, Miss. – Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can take to the streets, all part of an innovative experiment throughout July when a section of University Avenue is temporarily transformed to include two bicycle lanes, mid-block crosswalks and other infrastructure.

Cyclists ride along University Avenue, where a Complete Streets Pop Up will be installed for the month of July. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Cyclists ride along University Avenue, where a Complete Streets pop-up will be installed in July. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The city of Oxford Pathways Commission and the University of Mississippi Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee are collaborating to implement Oxford’s first-ever temporary Complete Streets pop-up,” said Sara Douglass, post baccalaureate fellow in the university’s Office of Sustainability. “Complete Streets is a term referring to a street design that incorporates infrastructure for all users of the road to ensure that everyone gets from point A to point B safely no matter the mode of transportation.”

Communities across the country are using this type of approach to experiment with different types of streetscapes. The pop-up, which will be supported in part by crowd-source funding, will be installed on the section of University Avenue between Fifth Street and Grove Loop.

Donations are being sought to help implement the project. The Oxford Cycling Club and the UM Office of Sustainability will provide a 100 percent match for all donations, up to $2,000. All contributions will support the purchase of supplies and materials, such as temporary marking tape and equipment to install it.

The plan includes reducing four travel lanes to two and adding two to three pedestrian islands/crosswalks near St. John’s Catholic Church and the Music Building. Throughout the month, volunteers, the Office of Sustainability and the Pathways Commission will collect data to assess the project’s effectiveness.

“The goal of the Complete Streets pop-up project is to get a taste of what it would look like and how University Avenue would function if we conveniently accommodated bikes and pedestrians without having to invest in permanent infrastructure,” Douglass said. “We also hope to reduce motor vehicle speeds. The speed on that road is actually 20 miles per hour, but right now the average speed of motor vehicle traffic is at 32 miles per hour. We’d like to see that reduced because there are high numbers of pedestrians and cyclists on that section of University.”

The monthlong improvement recently received unanimous support from the Oxford Board of Alderman.

“I am a supporter of alternative means of transportation, other than motor vehicles, in our community,” said Jay Hughes, an Oxford alderman. “The pop-up project is a positive way to increase the percentage of bicycle users, which makes things safer for everyone. It’s rare that we get to test something such as this for its effectiveness before making a final decision about it.”

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