Knightdale promoting safe roadways for pedestrians

aspecht@newsobserver.comSeptember 18, 2013 

— The town is participating in a campaign it hopes will raise awareness about cyclists and walkers who travel on public roads.

Knightdale is one of six Wake County towns working with the Watch for Me NC campaign to spread information about the rights of walkers and cyclists. The campaign is funded by the N.C. Department of Transportation and the UNC Highway Safety Research Center.

It pays for towns to distribute car decals, bumper stickers and pamphlets about transportation laws.

“This as an opportunity to advance the ideals of folks who are walking or biking as a means for transportation,” said Chris Hills, Knightdale planning director.

A 2012 study of 400 Knightdale residents showed strong support for walking or biking around town, but many residents said they felt unsafe doing so without extended sidewalks and crosswalks. About 35 percent of residents polled said they’d support a 1-cent tax increase to help pay for sidewalk improvements.

Statistics compiled by DOT show 11 accidents between vehicles and walkers or cyclists occurred between 2003 and 2012, according to Knightdale’s comprehensive pedestrian master plan. Three of those accidents were fatal.

Between 2000 and 2009, 112 pedestrians were killed by vehicles in Wake County, according to advocacy group Transportation for America. On average, more than 400 pedestrians and 180 bicyclists are reportedly struck by motor vehicles in the Triangle each year, according the Wake for Me NC website.

Transportation for America ranks North Carolina as the 11th most dangerous state in the country.

Knightdale spokesman Brian Bowman said one of the town’s missions is to promote healthy lifestyles. He suggested the idea of sharing the road with cyclists, in particular, might be “a bit of a culture change” on local roadways. In addition to distributing materials, Knightdale police officers will also go through training sessions on spotting drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians who violate traffic laws.

The campaign provides headlights, taillights and other equipment for Knightdale police to offer to cyclists whose bikes aren’t properly equipped, Hills said.

“Anything that makes your community more active is a good thing,” he said.

Specht: 919-829-4826

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