By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Starkville community will come together Saturday morning in support of Jan Morgan, a local woman who was hit by a car while cycling.
The event, called Ban Together for Jan Morgan and Bike Safety, aims to raise awareness about the safety issues everyone faces on the road.
“When this happened, we wanted to pull together for her and have some kind of event to raise awareness,” said Elaine Schimpf, event coordinator. Schimpf has known Morgan for several years. “This isn’t just about Jan or just about cyclists. This is for anyone who runs, walks, rides or drives on our roads.”
Morgan, who owns Boardtown Bikes with her husband, David, was out on a training ride with a friend on May 22 when she was hit by a car. She spent the last month in a critical care unit at a hospital in Tupelo.
The event will begin with an educational segment on the laws pertaining to cyclists, pedestrians and motorists in Mississippi. Organizers will hand out bright yellow yard sticks to remind people of the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act which requires motorists to give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing.
“We want people to be aware that there are laws out there,” Schimpf said. “We’ve seen that if you don’t abide by those laws, people get hurt.”
Schimpf will lead a prayer in honor of Morgan, her family and those affected by similar tragedies. She said over 100 people have told her personally they will attend to show their support, including members of the Starkville police and fire departments.
“We want everyone to come out, even if they don’t have a bike,” she said.
Over the last month, many people have expressed outrage because no charges have been brought against the driver who hit Morgan. Schimpf wants to make it known this event is not about anger, but rather education and support.
“It’s not a race. It’s not a rally. It’s not a protest,” she said. “It’s just a nice, happy awareness ride.”
A photographer will be on hand to take pictures which will eventually go into a scrapbook for Morgan. According to David Morgan, Jan made major strides in her recovery this week. She spent an entire month sedated while her body recovered from multiple broken bones and severe trauma. Now completely off sedatives and the ventilator, she has opened her eyes and started speaking for the first time since her accident over a month ago. They hope to transfer her to a rehabilitation center in Atlanta as soon as possible.
Since the accident, Morgan’s family and friends have been vocal about bicycle safety awareness. Through updates on his wife’s Facebook page, as well as a blog set up in her honor — www.getwelljan.blogspot.com  — David Morgan urges people to stop using cell phones while behind the wheel. That message will be echoed at the awareness ride Saturday.
“People just need to keep in mind that there are other people out there besides them,” Schimpf said.
Participants should meet in the Boardtown Bikes’ parking lot at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, and the ride will begin at 7:30. The route will go west down Lampkin Street to Greensboro Street and down Louisville Street to Highway 12 and turn down Spring Street to Russell Street to end at Boardtown Bikes. After the ride, healthy snacks and refreshments will be available.
The event is sponsored by OCH Regional Medical Center and Boardtown Bikes.