City to kick off pedestrian, bicyclist safety campaign

After years of unfortunate accidents involving pedestrians at a higher rate than any other metro area in North Carolina, Asheville will be participating in a new education and enforcement initiative from the the state Department of Transportation dubbed “Watch for Me.” Beginning on the evening of August 4th, city Transportation and Police Departments will be engaging in new public safety activities starting with a warning period followed by increased active ticketing and sustaining education opportunities throughout.

The full announcement of the effort below also contains information on what pedestrian and bicyclist activities and on what law enforcement will be cracking down. Also below is a video in the project.

Announcement from the City of Asheville:

Asheville’s multimodal mindset is one of its assets. But as we move toward environmentally and healthy practices of bicycling and walking to our destinations people sometimes find themselves in the crosshairs at motorist intersections.

Add to that equation the brisk tourist traffic and a vibrant busking scene in downtown Asheville. Sometimes our sidewalks appear to be spilling over.

Ensuring the safety of all parties moving around the City is why Asheville has joined the NCDOT’s Watch for Me NC pedestrian and bicyclist safety campaign. From August through November, the City will launch an intensive public education campaign that will then be paired with vigorous enforcement of pedestrian safety laws.

In a five-year period from 2008-2012, the City of Asheville had the highest pedestrian accident rate among the largest ten metro areas in the state, according to an NCDOT report. Our participation in Watch for Me NC is designed to reverse that trend.

The City’s Transportation and Police Departments plan to do that through a public education campaign and targeted law enforcement to educate and reinforce compliance with the laws.

The City’s Watch for Me campaign will kick off during National Night out, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4, at Pack Square Park. We will have a table at the event with informational materials.

The campaign coincides with the start of school in August so student pedestrian safety messages will be incorporated in the campaign.

How it will work
Tiered law enforcement will include a brief warning period, followed by active ticketing. In advance of the campaign launch, area traffic units received targeted training this month at A-B Tech. Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams is aware of the campaign and the charges it may bring.

Know the laws

When you’re driving:

Yield to people in crosswalks.
Be prepared for bicyclists to take the whole lane – it’s their right if they need it.
Pass bicyclists only when it is safe to do so and be sure to give them plenty of room.
When you’re walking:

Obey all pedestrian traffic signals.
Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as you can.
Look for cars in all directions before crossing a street or parking lot.
When you’re bicycling:

Obey all traffic signals and come to a full stop at “stop” signs and red lights.
Ride in the direction of traffic.
Use front and rear lights and reflectors at night.
Use hand signals to indicate when turning.
Find more safety tips. Look for additional safety educational materials in coming weeks from the City of Asheville. Most importantly, slow down and pay attention for safety, whether you are walking, bicycling or driving.

About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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