The Marion Police Department and the City of Marion are partnering with the N.C. Department of Transportation to help keep drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists safe on the roadways.

Each year, more than 2,400 pedestrians and 960 bicyclists are hit by cars on North Carolina streets, which prompted DOT to launch a program called Watch for Me NC to help educate drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists and to support law enforcement officers on cracking down on violations of traffic safety laws.

Heather Cotton, Marion’s planning and development director, wrote the technical-assistance grant which has provided banners, handouts, crosswalk signs, reflective armbands and wristbands, along with bike lights to help get the word out.

“This was an opportunity to expand on the work that we have already done and we are in the process of making a comprehensive bicycle plan for the city and starting to add infrastructure for bicycles in our transportation network,” she said. “So, we want to make sure that people are aware of the rules and regulations for sharing the road with bicycles and pedestrians.”

The kickoff of the campaign will be at National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Chief Allen Lawrence said he hopes the campaign will help reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents, and informing people of the laws.

“We know from experience in the downtown area, specifically where there are marked cross walks, you can see that many people don’t know what to do. That is a big part of it, to educate the public,” he said. “Secondly, and obviously, comes the enforcement part, where we will have to enforce anything to do with pedestrians and bicycles.”

Lawrence said during National Night Out there will be a booth set up with printed materials informing the public on the pedestrian and bicycle laws, and they hope to get it into as many hands as possible.

“We do have some issues that we need to correct, and I think it will answer a lot of unanswered questions that people have,” said Lawrence.

Cotton also added that there will be several enforcement events held throughout the town over the course of the year at elementary schools and other places.

A limited number of wristbands, armbands and bike lights are available. Please visit the Marion Police Department during 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours to pick up those items. For more information, call 652-5205. Folks can also visit WatchForMeNC.org.

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