>> Participate in Watch for Me NC

Participate in Watch for Me NC

2020 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 2020 Watch for Me NC program. Communities will be selected through a competitive application process. Applications are due by 5pm on January 31, 2020.

Existing Watch for Me NC communities — those who worked with NCDOT in previous years — will need to reapply for the 2020 program year.

The online application is now open. Apply here.

An informational webinar was held on December 16, 2019 to provide an overview of the upcoming 2020 program year and application process.

Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants include communities 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

NCDOT will provide a variety of safety program materials to communities. These materials contain simple safety messages that target key behaviors of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists that contribute to crashes based on common crash types. Print materials can include rack cards, brochures, posters, warning booklets, or other collateral and may summarize relevant state laws affecting pedestrians and bicyclists, support enforcement and education efforts, or be displayed in public spaces and businesses. NCDOT also secures paid advertising like transit advertising, radio PSAs, or social media advertising through media markets across the state based on the participating partner communities to support local Watch for Me NC campaigns. Partners should coordinate with transit providers to earn free or reduced advertising space and will be encouraged to share and contribute to social media links and stories, too. Examples of other previously offered materials that may be provided by NCDOT to partners in 2020 include bicycle lights, reflective arm bands, or other functional gear to improve conspicuity and compliance with the law and banners, sandwich sign-boards, or other supplies to aid in enforcement operations or community engagement events.

2. Law enforcement training

NCDOT will offer a free, one-day training course for police officers to learn more about state traffic laws affecting pedestrians and bicyclists as well as techniques for staging enforcement events. Five training courses will be held in areas across the state (dates and locations TBA). Training opportunities will be located within a reasonable driving distance of each community. Training instructors are current police officers with years of experience in developing enforcement and outreach events targeted at improving pedestrian and bicycle safety. Law enforcement agencies participating in the officer training are eligible to claim credits in GHSP’s Statewide Traffic Enforcement Program Reporting System.

3. Progress check-in calls

A monthly, one-hour progress check-in call will be facilitated by UNC HSRC staff and each community. These calls will provide an opportunity for communities to discuss planning efforts, share challenges and opportunities, or request technical assistance.

New communities joining the Watch for Me NC program for the first time will have the opportunity to attend a half-day planning kick-off meeting. The meeting will be held in the community’s local area with community partners. UNC HSRC staff will facilitate the meeting and conversation to plan Watch for Me NC efforts in each community. Participants will leave with a strong grasp of program components and appropriate targeting and deadlines for their community’s education and enforcement efforts. After the initial kick-off meeting, new communities will participate in the monthly, one-hour progress check-in call.

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 bicyclist behaviors.

2020 Partner Responsibilities

1. Law enforcement participation in training

Police officer involvement 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 participate in monthly progress check-in calls with key community stakeholders. Each law enforcement agency will be expected to send representatives to the training who will then share what they learn with other officers in their agency assigned to the Watch for Me NC program. Five training events will be held through 2020 across the state (dates and locations TBA). 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.

3. Participation in Progress Check-In Calls

Every community is expected to participate in a monthly, one-hour progress check-in call. These calls will be facilitated by UNC HSRC staff. Communities are required to participate to discuss Watch for Me NC local initiatives. These calls will provide an opportunity for communities to discuss planning efforts, share challenges and opportunities, or request technical assistance.

All new communities joining the Watch for Me NC program for the first time will be required to attend a half-day planning kick-off meeting. Each new community is expected to convene the kickoff meeting with at least four stakeholders who will be involved with planning and implementing your local Watch for Me NC program. 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.

The meeting will be held in the community’s local area with community partners. UNC HSRC staff will facilitate the meeting and conversation to plan Watch for Me NC efforts. Participants will leave with a strong grasp of program components and appropriate targeting and deadlines for their community’s education and enforcement efforts. After the initial kick-off meeting, new communities will participate in the monthly, one-hour progress check-in call.

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.

2020 Application Process

Communities apply to the Watch for Me NC program via an online application. 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.

Communities are expected to complete the application in coordination with community partners and stakeholders. The application requires information about existing pedestrian and bicycle conditions and how the community will use the resources provided by NCDOT to address bicycle and pedestrian safety.

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 the planning kick-off meeting (for new communities) and monthly progress check-in calls. 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.