Bike safety advocates get colorful

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A statewide effort to raise awareness about bicycle safety will have residents seeing yellow on Friday.
Bike Walk Mississippi hatched the idea for “Wear Yellow Day For Cyclists” to honor those who have been hurt or injured while biking in the state. It encourages all residents to don yellow or any high-visibility attire – a shirt, vest, pants or even socks – this Friday to show support.
It also encourages communities or cycling groups to hold candlelight vigils at 8 p.m. and offer a moment of silent prayer for the victims.
“We did it as a response to the recent accident involving Jan” Morgan, said Melody Moody, executive director of Bike Walk Mississippi, which is the only statewide bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group.
“To me, I just felt like the cyclist community is so enraged about this accident, and I felt like Bike Walk Mississippi really needed to respond and take the opportunity to promote the need to share the road.”
Morgan was struck by a car May 22 while riding on an open stretch of Highway 50 in Clay County. The vehicle tossed her on the road and carried her for several yards before coming to rest. According to the accident report, the driver ran over Morgan a second time as she lay on the ground.
Since the accident, Morgan has been in an induced coma at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
Morgan is among several cyclists hurt or killed by vehicles in recent years. Others include Tupelo teenager John Paul Frerer, Dutch tourist Esther Hageman and Austin, Texas, resident David Allison – all three killed on Northeast Mississippi roads in 2009.
Allison and Hageman both were on the Natchez Trace Parkway when their accidents occurred. The national park since then has boosted safety measures, said Superintendent Cam Sholly, a supporter of Wear Yellow Day For Cyclists.
“We do as much as we can to promote bike safety,” he said. “Our rangers target unsafe passing, we signed special regulation to require the three-foot passing law in all three states the trace goes through.”
As a result, he said, the Natchez Trace Parkway had zero bicycle fatalities last year.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.