Natchez Trace Parkway: Safer for Cyclists
The Natchez Trace Parkway between Natchez, MS and Nashville, TN is beautiful route for bicyclists traveling between the quaint town of Natchez, to the birthplace of Elvis, to the country music capital. The Parkway offers a great experience for cyclists to enjoy their biking journey.
Of course there are many other reasons to travel the 444-mile route across Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee (the beautiful scenery, the historic stops and outdoor activities along the way, to name a few.) Among them is the fact that the Parkway is designated a bicycle route by the National Park for its entire route and commercial traffic is prohibited. The Parkway has been declared a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road and has been chosen as one of America’s 10 best biking roads. Open year-round for motorists, hikers and bikers, it provides visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time.
Due to the fact that the road is shared by cyclists and vehicles, there are safety concerns for cyclists. The National Park Service and Adventure Cycling Association are studying ways to make the route safer.
According to WTVA in Tupelo, a pilot program will begin in the late summer of 2014 that will raise motorists’ awareness to bicyclists.
They plan to use more signage and other methods on two sections of parkway — one rural and one urban. Natchez Trace Parkway Superintendent Mary Risser says most of the bicycle fatalities over the years have been on rural sections of the Parkway.
The Old Natchez Trace served as a commerce route between the Mississippi River and central Tennessee from prehistoric times into the early 1800s. The trail served as a trade route for Native Americans and was later upgraded as a wagon road for settlers and traders.
Construction on the modern Natchez Trace Parkway began in the 1939, and continued in fits and starts into the 1990s. The last missing link was opened in 2005.
The National Park Service encourages bicyclists to use the Parkway, although it warns cyclists away from two sections during morning and evening commute hours: “Clinton to Ridgeland, Mississippi, Milepost 87-103, from 7:00-9:00 a.m.and from 4:00-6:00 p.m.and Tupelo, Mississippi, Mileposts 258-268, from 7:00-8:30 a.m. and 3:00-5:00 p.m. on weekdays.”
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a wonderful bicycle route. Visitors will find gorgeous scenery and places to eat, shop and stay along the route. Click here to read our blog on why you should bike the Parkway!
There are also numerous campgrounds along the parkway, including five bicycle-only campgrounds. Also fresh water and restroom facilities are available every 20 miles along the Natchez Trace.
The National Park Service Bicycling on the Parkway webpage also lists rules of the road for bicyclists, camping information and more.
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