MONROE, La. (AP) — A bike path that officially connected the Twin Cities on Oct. 19 was the culmination of a dream that started a decade ago.

Sadly, Miles Luke didn't get to see his dream come to fruition. The avid cyclist and founding member of Monroe Advocates for Safe Streets, or MASS, died in December at the age of 97.

"About nine years ago, this older gentleman walked into my office one day..." Joanne Poret, planning and zoning director for the city of Monroe, said. "By the time he left that office, I had agreed to help him with his dream of getting bike paths in Monroe. ... Miles was a special person. It was hard to say no to him, and one of his dreams was to connect the two cities."

New West Monroe bike routes were announced, including the route that connected the city, via the Endom bridge, to Monroe bike routes.

Courtney Hornsby, president of the West Monroe, West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce, said several individuals, through the Ouachita Business Alliance brainstormed about a way to form the unveiled connection, a continuous 7.1-mile route now available for bikers.

The path stretches from Forsythe Park to Lazarre Park in West Monroe.

"It's the little things like this that enhance the quality of life in our community and make Ouachita Parish such a wonderful and unique place to live," Hornsby said.

Hornsby said the announcement was a first step — thoughts are already turning to developing additional routes, destination-based routes and special events.

"The City of West Monroe Parks and Recreation is very excited to add another dimension to our services to the citizens of West Monroe and Ouachita Parish. The addition of this new bike route is hopefully just the beginning of many more miles of designated bike routes on the west side of the river," Doug Seegers, Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of West Monroe, said in a provided statement.

Craig Lott also spoke regarding the role of MASS and described the new route as a vital link toward the expansion of the cycling network into west Ouachita. He also said events promoting safe cycling are in the works.

MASS was formed in 2009 following a 2008 meeting between Luke, Mayo and Monroe's Planning and Zoning division. The organization helped plan the first city bike routes.

Since 2009, six pedestrian bike routes have been dedicated, with a total of 26.45 miles on the paths.

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Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com