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Mississippi shop owner promoting cycling during COVID-19

Published March 16, 2020
UPDATED with billboard images.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (BRAIN) — Much like the spread of COVID-19, psychological effects of social distancing only figure to get worse before they get better, according to James Moore.

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The owner of Moore's Bicycle Shop Inc. in Hattiesburg is planning ahead and not from an opportunistic business standpoint. In two weeks, he will publicize through Facebook and billboards around town the benefits of individuals and families getting outside on a bike, an activity that doesn't have to involve crowds. Mississippi reported its first COVID-19 case Thursday, and the state has responded like many others: closing schools; forbidding gatherings of 250 or more; and halting theater, music, and sporting events.

He'll link to his and the area's two other local bike shops and even mention the town's big-box bike retailers: Dick's Sporting Goods, Academy Sports + Outdoors, three Walmarts and the Target.

"Basically, get your bike wherever you can get your bike," Moore said. "Get the best you can get. If you have some bikes and need them fixed, come see myself or my competitors. I don't want this to look like I'm trying to draw a lot of attention to ring up my cash register."

In addition, he'll pay for two billboards reminding folks they don't have to be trapped in their homes. One will feature an image of a bicycle with "The Original SDV (Social Distancing Vehicle)." The other will have a picture of a family cycling on the area's Longleaf Trace trail with "Avoid The Crowds, Include The Family."

"What can you do when you can't go to school, you have more down time, and everything involving crowds, the parks, zoo, whatever, is closed?" Moore said.

What sparked the idea, however, was his involvement with organizing rides at two drug rehabilitation centers. Moore has hosted weekly rides for some of the patients, usually numbering 5-15, on the Longleaf Trace trail. He was told Thursday, out of a concern for the spreading virus, the rides would be canceled.

"The residents love this and look forward to it so much that some residents who were getting dismissed maybe on a Tuesday at the end of their 60 or 90 days, beg to stay in until Friday just so they can do another ride," said Moore, who said he believes the centers will re-think the decision because he's the only person on the outside who comes in contact with them.

Residents missing the Friday ride had Moore wondering how that affects them psychologically and physically.

"That got me thinking about families and what we can do," Moore said. "Two things you can do as a family: You can go on a bike ride, or you can go camping. Anything else involves crowds of people. Camping won't make Mom happy in most cases, and it's a big investment, and it's a big ordeal with planning. A bike ride takes 15 minutes to throw the bikes up and load the family up."

Moore said he understood the gravity of the virus when watching TV the other day.

"We had a state of Mississippi health department person on TV look at the camera with a straight face and tell people not to go to church on Sunday," Moore said. "We live in a part of the country where you don't tell people not to go to church on Sunday."

One of two Lamar Outdoor billboards James Moore will have to promote cycling.
Topics associated with this article: Coronavirus

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