Liria Frerer had told the council just moments earlier that her son, Tupelo High School student John Paul, was killed by a trucker on a clear August day despite wearing bright clothing and following the traffic rules.
But too few motorists notice bicyclists, she said, making them vulnerable to injury or death.
"The importance of this law is about education and awareness," Frerer said at the podium, where she paused more than once to maintain her composure.
The measure passed unanimously and received a standing ovation from the numerous residents who had gathered to support Frerer at City Hall.
According to the new ordinance, motorists must either switch lanes or provide a 3- to 6-foot buffer zone when passing someone on foot, horseback, bicycle, motorcycle, scooter or farm equipment.
Lane switching is required on roads with more than one lane running in the same direction, otherwise the buffer goes into effect. It mandates 3 feet for passenger vehicles and 6 feet for commercial vehicles.
The current ordinance, which is identical to the state code, simply requires motorists to be careful and to honk when passing pedestrians, cyclists, children, or "any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person."
Although the new rule doesn't specify a punishment for violators, Police Chief Harold Chaffin said state law allows for up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.
"Without the laws to back it up, there's really nothing our policemen can do," said Candy Wheeler, a Tupelo resident and avid cyclist who also spoke at the meeting.
The new ordinance goes into effect in 30 days and will kick off a municipal public-awareness campaign about road safety, said city Senior Planner Renee Autumn Ray.
Ray is leading an effort to encourage more bicycling and walking in the community and has held a series of public meetings on the topic. The meetings helped develop the idea of the recently passed ordinance, she said.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or email@example.com.