Across the country, 2018 was brutal for pedestrians and bicyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6,283 pedestrians died, a more than 3 percent increase over the previous year, and the most deaths since 1990. Bicycling fatalities rose 6 percent to 857.

And this worrisome trend is playing out in North Carolina as well. Last year in the Tar Heel state more than 3,000 pedestrians and nearly 1,000 bicyclists were hit by cars. 

The Department of Transportation's Watch for Me NC program addresses these soaring injury and mortality rates. Winston-Salem DOT participated this fall. Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Matthew Burczyk says the program is raising awareness and increasing enforcement especially downtown.

“You know a lot of those people are here coming for work or to go out to restaurants,” says Burczyk. “They're repeat customers essentially. So, if they see that enforcement campaign going on once, that plants the seed in their head that the police department and the DOT are focusing on these issues.”

Burczyk says efforts to raise awareness among local pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers are ongoing. 

“This is a long-term problem with a long-term solution," says Burczyk. “I view the Watch for Me NC program as the first step in addressing that issue and trying to change the culture around transportation. What kind of impact does it have immediately? I'm not sure. But if we use this as a springboard to additional efforts in education and enforcement, and later in infrastructure redesign, then we'll start to see a shift in that culture.” 

The next deadline to apply to participate in Watch for Me NC is January 31.


300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.