By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
T hey came by bike, by car, and by foot.
Over 100 people came out for the “Ban Together for Jan Morgan and Bike Safety” event Saturday morning. The event, held in honor of Jan Morgan, the Starkville woman who was hit by a car while cycling last month, aimed to raise awareness for bicycle safety.
“I’m so excited that all these people came. I had no idea, I didn’t know if we’d have 10 people, or 250,” said Elaine Schimpf, who organized the event. “It’s great, the weather is perfect. I prayed for sunshine, and we got it.”
The mood was positive, despite the tragedy that inspired the event. Many supporters made it clear that they were “here to support Jan.” Morgan is still recovering from the massive injuries caused by the accident. She will soon move from the hospital in Tupelo where she has spent the last month, mostly in a medically induced coma, to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Ga., where they specialize in spinal cord and brain injuries. Though Morgan has regained consciousness, it may take some time until doctors fully understand the extent of her head injury. She was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, but the force of the impact ripped it off.
Schimpf lead a prayer, asking God to heal not only Morgan, but the driver that hit her, the legislators and lawyers handling the case, and those affected by similar tragedies.
“Lord, we ask you to watch over every cyclist, runner, walker and motorist as we take this ride through Starkville. Let it be a happy, positive and uplifting experience,” she prayed.
John McGinley, an avid cyclist, encouraged the crowd to educate those around them on the laws are meant to protect cyclists and pedestrians, like the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act that requires motorists to give cyclists three feet of space when passing.
“I just encourage everybody, cyclists, pedestrians, motorists, everyone to learn what the law says about the rights that cyclists have on the roadways,” McGinley said. “A lot of people driving cars do not know what the law says about the cyclists being on the roadway. A lot of people, including some law enforcement still think that cyclists are still supposed to be on sidewalks, and they’re not.”
After a moment of prayer, education and reflection, supporters took off on an awareness ride around Starkville.
“It was quite impressive to see the level of support in the community for Jan and for bike awareness and safety in general,” said Mayor Parker Wiseman, who came out to show his support. “I think it was an excellent event.”
For more information on the laws in Mississippi pertaining to cyclists and pedestrians, visit http://www.bikewalkmississippi.org . For updates on Morgan’s journey toward recovery, visit http://www.getwelljan.blogspot.com .