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Roanoke Rapids is one of 10 new communities which will soon benefit from participation in Watch for Me NC, a comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle safety program aimed at reducing bicycle and pedestrian crashes and fatalities in North Carolina.

“We are excited to welcome both returning and new community partners to the program,” said Hanna Cockburn, director of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Division and interim director of the state agency’s Public Transportation Division. “We look forward to incorporating fresh ideas as we work together to improve safety for all road users. The Watch for Me NC program continues to mature and serves as a partnership model for other cities and states across the nation.”

The Watch for Me NC program provides training for law enforcement officers on ways to improve safety for road users in their areas. Communities also will receive technical assistance, materials and purchased media promotion such as radio advertisements to help raise public awareness about important pedestrian and bicycle safety issues.

The program leverages the strengths of law enforcement and public education to encourage safe and secure places to walk and bike. The NCDOT selected the following new partners to join 29 returning communities across the state:

  • Beaufort (Carteret County)
  • Beech Mountain (Watauga County)
  • Belmont (Gaston County
  • Blowing Rock (Watauga County)
  • Farmville (Pitt County)
  • Hertford (Perquimans County)
  • Roanoke Rapids (Halifax County)
  • Shelby (Cleveland County)
  • Wendell (Wake County)
  • Winston-Salem (Forsyth County)

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center provides technical support with campaign implementation and evaluation. For more information about the program, visit Watch for Me NC’S website.

Roanoke Rapids interim police Chief Bobby Martin said the department is currently awaiting additional information on the program. “I think it’s an excellent program. I think it’s needed for the community.”

On Tuesday NCDOT announced Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School in Hollister would be one of a record number of children, 3,320 total, across the state receiving lifesaving bicycle helmets through the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Helmet Initiative, part of ongoing efforts to reduce bicycle injuries and deaths in North Carolina.

The NCDOT uses funds from the sale of the “Share the Road” specialty license plate to pay for bike helmets that are distributed at bicycle safety events for underprivileged children by government and non-government agencies. A record 101 organizations applied to participate in the program this year.

While less than half of all children typically wear a helmet while biking, they can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by nearly 90 percent.  

This year, along with each helmet awarded, recipients will receive a pair of front and rear bike lights to further enhance cyclist safety. Helmets will be delivered by May 1.