>> Participate in Watch for Me NC

Participate in Watch for Me NC

2019 Call for communities

NCDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Division is working with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center to seek out new communities to participate in the 2019 Watch for Me NC program. Communities will be selected through a competitive application process. Applications are due March 1, 2019 by 5pm.

Existing Watch for Me NC communities — those who worked with NCDOT in previous years on the campaign — may continue in 2019 on a non-competitive basis. These communities must complete an updated application but will be guaranteed resources in 2019 upon submission of application materials by March 1.

An informational webinar was held on February 6. The recording is available to view and learn more about the program.

2019 Watch for Me NC Informational Webinar

Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants include agencies with police departments, such as local governments (both municipal and county) and campus police. If the police department is the lead applicant, they are encouraged to discuss their plans to apply with other local government departments, such as transportation, planning, parks and recreation, health, communications/public relations, etc.

What partners get

1. Print materials, collateral and advertising

Program Materials:

  • Bumper stickers and posters with simple messages such as “Yield to Pedestrians” and “Make Room for Bikes”
  • Rack cards that summarize references to state laws affecting pedestrians and cyclists and support enforcement and education efforts.
  • Posters that describe safe behaviors for pedestrians and cyclists. They work best inside passenger buses, public spaces and employee break rooms.
  • Bicycle lights (both front and rear) are available in limited quantities to distribute to cyclists observed without appropriate lighting.
  • Internally-lit or highly reflective arm bands or other functional gear to assist pedestrians running or walking at night.
  • Vinyl banners to post at highly visible locations to provide additional reminders to watch for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Transit advertising or bus backs with the “Yield to Pedestrians” and “Make Room for Bikes” messages may be available to partners where public transit services offer external advertising space. Partners should coordinate with transit providers to earn free or reduced advertising space during the program.
  • Radio PSAs that remind drivers to look for pedestrians and cyclists. NCDOT will produce the digital file and either negotiate with media markets, as determined by selected partner locations, or supply to radio stations donating air time for the PSAs.
  • Social media including Facebook and Twitter will be used by NCDOT to promote the Watch for Me NC program. Local partners will be encouraged to share and contribute social media links and stories throughout the program.
  • Sandwich sign-boards for new communities for use by police during traffic enforcement events to notify drivers approaching a targeted enforcement area in the community.

2. Law enforcement training

NCDOT will offer a free, one-day training course for police officers new to Watch for Me NC to learn more about state traffic laws affecting pedestrians and cyclists as well as techniques for staging enforcement events. Officers that have participated in previous Watch for Me NC program years will receive a half-day refresher course. Trainings will be located within a reasonable driving distance of each community. Trainers are current police officers with years of experience in developing enforcement and outreach events targeted at improving pedestrian and bicycle safety.

3. Action planning workshops

All communities will be required to attend a 6-hour Action Planning workshop. Participants will leave with a strong grasp of program components and appropriate targeting and deadlines for their community’s education and enforcement efforts.  Partners will also be invited to participate in peer support phone calls to share progress and gain ideas to address challenges.

4. Earned media

NCDOT will provide template press releases to participating communities for local distribution and will distribute the release to statewide press contacts. NCDOT is also available to speak to local or regional news outlets. NCDOT officials will coordinate with communities and make efforts to be present at local kick-off events.

5. Technical support

UNC HSRC and NCDOT will provide technical support throughout the program, a timeline to assist with program planning, templates for letters to District Attorney’s offices, a partners-only listserv, crash data and best practices for using the data in local decision-making, and resources for evaluating key intersections for driver, pedestrian and cyclist behaviors.

2019 Partner responsibilities

1. Law enforcement participation in training

Involvement of police is a critical component to the overall success of the program. Described in “What partners get,” communities will be asked to send officers to a free training course focusing on pedestrian and bicycle traffic law enforcement, and a separate Action Planning workshop with key community stakeholders. Each law enforcement agency will be expected to send representatives to the training and workshop who will share what they learn with other officers in their agency assigned to the Watch for Me NC program. Most training events will take place in spring or summer of 2019 and will be planned in coordination with participating communities. Law enforcement agencies participating in the officer training are eligible to claim credits in GHSP’s Statewide Traffic Enforcement Program Reporting System.

2. Law enforcement operations

Officers will be expected to support the Watch for Me NC program in a variety of ways, including performing outreach and targeted enforcement operations related to pedestrian and bicycle safety, with a special emphasis on staged enforcement near K-8 schools. Law enforcement units will be asked to report statistics on the number of violations (warning or citations) processed during enforcement events. They will be provided with bike lights to offer to cyclists riding unlawfully without them and arm bands to offer to pedestrians and bicyclists to improve their conspicuity.

3. Participation in action planning workshop

Every community is expected to send four representatives (including the lead agency) to an action planning workshop. These representatives should include at least one law enforcement officer and may also include coalition members from public health, planning, engineering, schools or other departments or organizations who will be involved in your local Watch for Me NC program.

4. Use/distribution of program materials

The peak season of the program may differ among participating communities but typically begins in August as partners work to distribute materials and host interactive events to engage diverse audiences on college campuses and across the community. NCDOT will work with partners to secure transit advertising space and purchase radio advertising for PSAs. The program’s success depends on its level of visibility to the public, so partners should also distribute educational messages through social media and seek media coverage from traditional outlets (newspapers, television, radio, etc.).

5. Reporting

Communities will be expected to report on the outcome of collateral/print distribution, traffic enforcement events, community outreach efforts, and earned media throughout the campaign. Program leads in each community will be expected to provide monthly reports of activities/events held, press coverage received, and enforcement operations conducted. This is an excellent opportunity for participants to exchange ideas for working with community partners and the media.

2019 application process

New for 2019- The application will be submitted online and questions have been updated for new and returning communities.

Please note- the application should be submitted online. For ease of use and to see an advance copy of all Watch for Me NC questions included in the application, please see the word version of the document for New and Returning communities.

The application requests information about existing pedestrian and bicycle conditions and how the community will use the resources provided by NCDOT to address bicycle and pedestrian safety. Complete the application in coordination with other partners and stakeholders.

A letter of support from the respective local government or campus police department is required. The letter needs to indicate intent to attend officer training sessions, conduct enforcement operations to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and commitment to attend an action planning workshop. If multiple agencies are collaborating on a joint application, a letter of support is required from each participating police department.

Optional letters of support from other stakeholder organizations are strongly encouraged. Organizations could include public health agencies, bicycle or walking advocacy groups, transit agencies, or schools. The letter should describe how the organization will enhance the campaign’s effort through public outreach, facilitation or leveraged resources.

Please contact Kristin Blank at blank@hsrc.unc.edu if you have any questions or technical difficulties.

Partner selection

Applicants will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

1. Intra-agency collaboration: Communities with strong existing partners from multiple disciplines (e.g., communications, public health, police, schools, law enforcement, advocacy groups, planning and engineering departments, etc.) are well-suited to perform the activities that are part of the Watch for Me NC program. Agencies with jurisdictions in close proximity to one another may collaborate and submit a joint application. Examples include a joint application from a local government and university located in the same community, or from multiple local governments in an identifiable region. The primary benefit of inter-agency coordination is to maximize NCDOT media-purchasing resources and enhance communications with local news outlets.

2. Leveraged resources: Communities are encouraged to seek donated resources from other public or private organizations to expand the reach of the program. Examples include commitments from transit agencies to provide free or reduced advertising space for external program materials, or volunteer services from a university to evaluate traffic behaviors at intersections before and after the enforcement campaign.

3. K-8 school focus: The program emphasizes improving bicycle and pedestrian safety near K-8 schools in participating communities. Applicants should describe how they will work with local schools (public or private) to consider school zones for high visibility enforcement, distribute educational materials and programs, and encourage safer behaviors. Examples include plans for law enforcement operations around schools, expressed support from PTA groups or school administrators, teaching the Let’s Go NC! curriculum, and collaboration with other school coordination efforts.

4. Community-focused outreach: Communities should tailor how they will communicate the goals of the campaign according to the unique character of the community or region. For example, a region with significant tourism traffic should describe how they will reach out to visitors as well as residents.

5. Community profile and crash history: NCDOT will consider the population size and geographic context of the applicants. NCDOT hopes to work with communities of all sizes and in many regions of the state. NCDOT will also consider pedestrian and bicycle crash history in the community.