2010 Tour de Tippah focused on bicycle safety

By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY— Last year, Ripley’s Geordi Talley planned the Tour de Tippah, a bicycle ride for avid cyclists, as her Girl Scout Gold Award project. One of the requirements of the project was that it be something that would hopefully keep going year after year.

This year the Tour de Tippah was back with a two-fold purpose. Along with an enjoyable day of riding through beautiful north Mississippi scenery, proceeds from this year’s ride will go towards the purchase of “3-foot law” signs to hopefully keep cyclists safe while riding.

The event—sponsored this year by Ripley Main Street Association took place Saturday Oct. 23 starting at 9 a.m. at the RHS Event Center.

The “3 foot law” is another name for the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act signed into law by Gov. Haley Barbour earlier this year. The law is named after a Tupelo teen who died while cycling in August 2009.

The bill – passed by the Mississippi House and Senate in April – requires motorists to provide a three-foot buffer when passing bicyclists along the road and penalizes those who harass, taunt or toss objects at cyclists.

Fines range from $100 for a first offense to $2,500 and seven days in jail for the third offense. The act also requires bicyclists to ride in the right-hand lane with no more than two abreast. The law went into effect July 1 and Mississippi is one of 16 states with the statute.

“Tippah County is a great place to ride because the terrain is beautiful and motorists, in general, are very good about giving space,” said Bonnie Garner, an avid cyclist and one of the ride planners. “However, we hope this ride will bring awareness about the new law.

“With so many more people riding to get fit, it’s important for motorists to pay attention to cyclists and runners alike.”

Garner said this year’s Tour de Tippah is expected to draw 50 to 100 cyclists from Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. The ride consists of three different routes of 20, 40, and 62 miles. Riders will select their route based on their experience. Some roads on the route include Miss. 2, CR 500, CR 540, CR 701, CR 700 and smaller connecting roads.