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Law enforcement gets special training for bikes and pedestrians

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)-- New Hanover County ranks high for pedestrian and bike crashes.

Local law enforcement joined the "Watch for Me NC" safety campaign. New Hanover County ranks in the state's top ten for pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

"A lot of drivers, they're not looking for pedestrians," Durham bike cop David Buonsignore said. "They're not looking for bicycles. They're just looking for other vehicles."

Buonsignore thinks this is why he was hit while on duty.

"They don't realize that bicyclists have as much right as they do on the North Carolina roadways," Buonsignore said.

James Gallagher of the University of North Carolina Highway Research Center says the "Watch for Me NC" safety campaign was formed to change that problem.

"There are some misconceptions amongst the general public and officers about what the laws say in North Carolina," Gallagher said.

For pedestrians, it's jaywalking.

"Jaywalking in North Carolina is very narrowly defined."

Gallagher says unlike other states, pedestrians in North Carolina can cross the street without a crosswalk as long as they yield to cars. Today eight different law enforcement agencies in the county were educated on enforcing the laws for pedestrians and bicyclists.

"I see the hazards," Buonsignore said. "I see how dangerous it could be for people who actually enjoy riding their bike everyday for exercise or transportation."

Gallagher says it is important that the drivers, officers, and pedestrians are educated on the laws of the roadways. The county is also looking into adding more crosswalks and bike paths.

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Enforce the laws and more crosswalks

Bike paths are nice for recreation but not very useful for running errands or going to work unless you live and/or work near the paths. Strictly enforce the existing motor vehicle laws in regard to speeding, texting and aggressive driving. Ticket cyclists that disobey laws. That is what will make the city more "bike friendly"

Crosswalks is what this town really needs. One of the most congested areas of the city now is 17th street especially around NHCRMC In that 1.5 mile stretch of 17th st, with all the medical offices there is exactly ONE crosswalk to cross 6 lanes of traffic.

The cynicism of county government and NCDOT in regard to pedestrians and bicyclists in this area is beyond belief.

I moved here from Boston

I moved here from Boston recently and yes I know I am a Yankee and some people don't care what we do up north but I've always been shocked by the lack of crosswalks/sidewalks here in Wilmington. It's almost like nobody considered the possibility that someone might want to walk or ride their bike around town. Crosswalks at major intersections can make it safer for pedestrians and give drivers a visual reminder that pedestrians have a right of way there.

In defense of drivers though, bikers also need some form of education. I am a biker and shake my head at some of the stupid things I've seen people do. Today I was downtown at the four way stop at Front St & Princess Street. I got there before a biker and was turning left. The biker failed to stop at the stop sign (since bikes are defined as vehicles) and continued on as if nothing was wrong. Good thing I slammed on the brakes so I didn't run him over.

Good for them and great idea!

Good for them and great idea! Now NHCSD Deputy Jones will have something to ride other than Detective Tyrber. After all with deputies and officers patrolling on bikes neighborhoods and families will be so much safer.