Franklin Town Council Votes in Approval of Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program

At the May meeting of the Franklin Town Council, Town Planner Justin Setser announced that Franklin was one of seven communities in North Carolina to be selected to participate in the Watch for Me NC, a comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle safety program aimed at reducing bicycle and pedestrian crashes and fatalities in North Carolina. Each year, approximately 2,000 pedestrians and 850 cyclists are hit by cars on North Carolina streets.

Franklin will join the 29 returning communities across the state that have been participating in the program. In addition to Franklin, the other communities in the state to be selected to participate in the program include Alexander County, Clayton in Johnston County, Fayetteville in Cumberland County, Forest City and Spindale in Rutherford County, and Hendersonville in Henderson County.

“We are excited to welcome these new community partners and their ideas as we work together to improve safety for all road users,” said Hanna Cockburn, director of the N.C. Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Division. “The Watch for Me NC Program continues to mature and now serves as a model for other cities and states across the nation.”

The Watch for Me NC Program is run by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) in partnership with local communities and aims to reduce pedestrian and bicycle injuries and deaths through a comprehensive targeted approach involving two key elements: (1) safety and educational messages directed toward drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists; and (2) high visibility enforcement efforts by area police to crackdown and reduce traffic safety laws.

Local programs are typically led by municipal, county or regional government staff with the involvement of many others, including pedestrian and bicycle advocates, city planners, law enforcement agencies, engineers, public health professionals, elected officials, school administrators and others.

The program will include transit ads, outdoor ads, signage, bike lights and other approved materials to promote the program as well as hand outs and other materials to help improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.

An added benefit from participating in the program is that once the town law enforcement receives training in the program, the department can receive points from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. Points earned from participation in the program can be used to buy equipment such as radars, cones and vests.

Another benefit for communities which participate in the program is that tickets written by law enforcement are often upheld in the court system.

As recommended by the town’s Bike Walk Franklin Plan, participation in such programs as the Watch for Me NC is a key step necessary for improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Town staff including law enforcement as well as non-law enforcement will start training for the Watch for Me NC Program which is expected to be launched in August.