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N.C. Summit Aims to Curb Pedestrian Dangers

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RALEIGH — Walking across the street may not seem like a difficult task, but it could get you killed in some parts of North Carolina.

State transportation officialssay they know it is dangerous to be a pedestrian in the Triangle and other urban areas. A statewide summit being held Tuesday is aimed at making the state more pedestrian-friendly.

Transportation Secretary David McCoy says he is always looking for ways to reduce traffic across the state.

"What we don't want to do is get them out of their cars and put them in an unsafe environment," says McCoy.

Many North Carolina streets are not safe for walking or riding a bike. Last year, 241 people were killed doing so.

Results of a six-year draft study show from 1993 to 1998, the Triangle had three of the top five most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in the state. All are on or near college campuses:
  • Chapel Hill:The intersection of Franklin and Columbia on the campus ofUNC-Chapel Hillis considered the most dangerous place for pedestrians in the state. Over a five year period, 10 people were hit by cars at the crossing.
  • A new traffic signal is being tested at the intersection. It counts down how much time pedestrians have to get across the street.

    Durham:Fayetteville and Linwood streets, nearN.C. Central Universityis ranked third. Seven people were hit at that intersection. Raleigh:Hillsborough and Horne streets nearN.C. State Universityis the fourth most dangerous intersection. Five people were hit at the Hillsborough/Horne intersection.

    The pedestrian and bicycle safety summit is being called the first of its kind in the nation.

    McCoy hopes people will walk with ideas to improve their own communities, including using crosswalks that light up.

    "The crosswalk would actually be submerged lighting. It would light up giving the driver the notice there is somebody in the walkway and then once the signal switches, then those lights go off," he says.

    Transportation leaders from across the state will discuss ways to work with developers to get them to implement more sidewalks in their plans.

    They will also share ideas that are already working in communities.

    An initiative atUNC-Wilmingtonwill be highlighted during the conference.

    The university's chancellor rounded up unclaimed bikes from the campus police station, painted them fluorescent colors, and placed them all over town for everyone to use.

    The ultimate goal of the summit is to reduce pedestrian and bicycle accidents by 10 percent over the next two years.


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