>> Kannapolis

Watch for Me NC in Kannapolis

  • Watch for Me NC participant since: 2016
  • Population: 42,500
  • Lead agency: Kannapolis Police Department

Kannapolis is a welcoming southern town just north of Charlotte with a penchant for active living. Home to the North Carolina Research Center, which has made breakthroughs in health and nutrition science, Kannapolis strives to be a community where a balanced work/play lifestyle is encouraged. North Carolina’s beaches and mountains are both only short drives away and local parks and walking trails, including the 3.3 mile path known as ‘The Loop’ around downtown, are often filled with walkers, joggers, and cyclists. Unfortunately, Kannapolis has experienced three pedestrian fatalities since 2013 and generally sees an uptick in foot traffic during the summer months, especially when the town hosts its free outdoor Summer Concert Series. While Kannapolis promotes cycling and walking, town officials want to ensure all residents are able to engage in such activities safely.

In addition to the Kannapolis Police Department, which is the lead agency for the local Watch for Me NC program, there are a handful of other organizations involved in the program. Watch for Me NC partners include Kannapolis City Schools, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Carolina Medical Center-Northeast, Cabarrus Active Routes to Schools, and Cabarrus Safe Kids.

Education and Enforcement Activities Conducted
Tasked with improving cyclist and pedestrian safety by the Town Council, Kannapolis sought to educate residents first and then follow up with enforcement. Initial Watch for Me NC messaging was included in the city newsletter, which is dispersed through the school system and through water bills. Information about the Watch for Me NC program has mostly spread through word of mouth as the Kannapolis Police Department has discussed pedestrian and bike safety and shared Watch for Me NC materials at local community watch meetings and neighborhood block parties.

Posters and brochures have been distributed at local sporting events, such a minor league baseball games, high school athletic events, YMCA and youth games, and at the city’s splash pad. Cabarrus Safe Kids has assisted by hosting Bike Rodeos, donating helmets for children, and conducting car seat safety checks. The Cabarrus County Health Alliance, another Watch for Me NC partner, worked to educate parents and kids via Active Routes to School.

In terms of enforcement, the Kannapolis Police Department conducted three enforcement operations in 2016. Enforcement primarily took place in the downtown area and near a local high school located within one half mile of downtown. The 3.3 mile trail around the city, known as “The Loop”, brings a notable amount of pedestrian traffic to downtown. Education played a major role during enforcement operations as police officers focused on issuing warning citations and informing pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists about roadway safety and traffic laws.

Key Outcomes
The Watch for Me NC campaign in Kannapolis is working hand-in-hand with the city’s efforts to promote healthy living through walking, running, and cycling. As a result of Watch for Me NC, the Kannapolis Police Department is better prepared to conduct enforcement operations, and it anticipates increasing the number of annual enforcement operations in the future.

Lessons Learned

  • Connect safety with health: According to Sergeant Rowland, “The city leaders agree the [Watch for Me NC] program is great in conjunction with their strategic goals to promote health and keep residents and visitors safe.”
  • Take your time: Kannapolis police officers found that it takes time and adequate staffing to properly educate people about proper road behavior during enforcement.

Thank you to Sergeant Brent Rowland with the Kannapolis Police Department for providing leadership, time, and expertise that contributed to the Watch for Me NC Campaign in Kannapolis and the writing of this profile.