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Ala. woman bikes Natchez Trace to highlight need for medians

An Alabama woman is bicycling the length of the Natchez Trace Parkway to draw attention to the need for barriers in medians of four-lane and interstate highways.

Shannon Bowers’ only brother, Braden Bowers, was killed in a February 2006 car crash on Interstate 10 in the Florida panhandle. She said he swerved to avoid a car, slid across the median into oncoming traffic and was hit by another car. He died instantly.

“Every highway patrolman has said if there had been a median barrier … my brother would have probably survived,” said Bowers, of Loxley, Ala.

Bowers, 27, began the bike trip Sunday near Nashville, Tenn., on what would have been her brother’s 20th birthday. She hopes to reach Natchez, on Friday afternoon. The 444-mile Natchez Trace is a two-lane road.

Wayne Brown, Mississippi’s Southern District transportation commissioner, said more median barriers would make highways safer. He said it is safer to hit a barrier than to travel into oncoming traffic.

“Barriers can save lives, there’s no question, and I would personally like to see them installed everywhere we could,” he said.

Brown said there are more effective ways to make highways safer.

On average, every other month a person is killed in Mississippi in a collision when a vehicle crosses the median of a four-lane highway, he said.

Brown said it would be better to put shoulders on narrow two-lane roads, which have higher fatality rates than four-lane highways. He also suggested cutting down trees that could create dangers for motorists.