The tragic and preventable deaths of several cyclists in the Triangle are the motivation behind the Department of Transportation’s “Watch for Me” campaign, which aims to promote safety for cyclists as well as pedestrians. Additionally, the deaths of two Triangle cyclists in recent months prompted law enforcement from Apex and Durham to take part in a safety course focusing on the particular dangers facing pedestrians and cyclists.
In May 58-year-old Chris Mangum was killed in Raleigh when an elderly man cut the cyclist off in a vehicle. In July, Seth Vidal, 36, was struck by a vehicle from behind and killed while riding his bike in Durham. Those deaths come just one year after Steve Jordan, director of the North Carolina Division of Mental Health Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, was killed when a logging truck attempted to pass him.
North Carolina has approximately 20 bicycle fatalities a year, according to the DOT. On average 160 pedestrians are killed annually in the state.
The safety course was conducted by a national expert on pedestrian and bike safety. According to the DOT, more law enforcement from across the state will take part in the course in coming weeks.
In addition, the DOT advertising campaign encourages drivers to be more aware of their surroundings will be launched on public buses and radio next month.
We are thrilled that the DOT is turning its focus to cycling safety. Lauren Blackburn, director of DOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Division and an avid cyclist, has been instrumental in that effort. The campaign isn’t perfect – the “make room for bicycles” ad shows a car seemingly passing very close to two bicyclists, one who appears to be a child. And the hand signals illustrated for bicycle users leave out the right turn extended right arm option, which was recently illustrated in posters distributed to all DMV offices. But it’s a start and we’re glad the State is working to raise awareness.
See the campaign here.