Three-foot rule advocated for county

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Lee County supervisors will consider passing a bicycle safety ordinance similar to one adopted by Tupelo in December and another under study in the Legislature this year.
Often referred to as the “three-feet rule,” the ordinance requires motorists to allow a three-foot buffer when passing bicyclists on the road. Cyclists and cycling groups have actively promoted its passage since the August 2009 death of Tupelo resident John Paul Frerer.
The 18-year-old was struck from behind by a vehicle while cycling on U.S. Highway 6.
His mother, Liria Frerer, spoke to the supervisors Monday in favor of the ordinance. She described bicyclists as “vulnerable” when sharing the road with cars and trucks, which weigh much more and travel at higher speeds.
Current laws requiring respect for cyclists are too vague, Frerer said. Motorists need specific rules about how much space to provide a passing bicycle, and that rule is three feet.
“The law is not meant to really be enforced,” Frerer said. “It’s used as a means to educate motorists.”
Supervisors nodded in agreement as Frerer spoke, and board President Darrell Rankin said he was “sympathetic to the cause.”
The board voted unanimously to take the request under advisement and asked its engineer to draft an ordinance to consider at a future meeting.
District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan also said the measure likely would require a public hearing.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.