The greater Wilmington area is consistently ranked among one of the most dangerous regions in North Carolina to bike and walk.

In Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties, there is an average of 90 pedestrian crashes and 59 bicycle crashes annually, according to the NCDOT. What can we do to reduce crashes? All of us- drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians- must be vigilant and on the lookout for one another. Scroll down for safety tips and to take the Be a Looker pledge!

Motorists – When Driving

Stop for Pedestrians. It’s the law.

According to NC General Statute § 20-173, where traffic control signals are not in place or in operation, a driver MUST yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to pedestrians crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at or near an intersection.

Also, vehicles turning left must yield to oncoming vehicles, which include bicycles. See NC General Statute § 20-155 regarding right of way.

Don’t Drive Distracted

Keep your eyes – and mind – on the road. Distracted driving accounts for over 19% of all collisions in North Carolina.

Give Bikes and Pedestrians 4 Feet of Passing Distance

According to NC General Statute § 20-150(e), you must keep a safe distance when passing a bicyclist or a pedestrian on or close to the roadway. It is perfectly legal to change lanes to do so. Even on a double yellow line.

Slow Down!

Remember that if you’re driving a 2-ton metal vehicle, it takes a lot of energy and a quick reaction time to stop something that heavy. Make it easier to stop by slowing down. Speeding accounts for 6% of all collisions and 25% of all crash fatalities in North Carolina. Speed limits are set in place for everyone’s safety.

Look Right Before You Turn Right

We are used to looking left before we make a right turn. Make a habit of looking right as well to look for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Don’t Block the Crosswalk

A crosswalk is a buffer of protection for anyone not in a car. When coming to a red light or stop sign, your vehicle should be behind the crosswalk.

Bicyclists – When Biking

Be Predictable

Use hand signals and make eye contact with drivers. See more Rules of the Road.

Ride With Traffic

Cyclists should always ride on the right side of the street. NC General Statutes include bicycles in their definition of vehicles (§ 20-4.01(49)), so cyclists must obey the rules of the road; this also makes passing by motor vehicles easier and safer.

Wear a Helmet and Use Lights

Cyclists of all ages should always wear a helmet. When riding at night, your bicycle should be equipped with a white light in the front and a red light on the back, according to NC General Statute § 20-129(e).

Don’t Bike With Headphones

In order to hear sirens, vehicles, and be focused on your safety, you should not wear headphones or ear buds while cycling.

Obey the Rules of The Road

Stop at red lights and yield to pedestrians. Bicyclists are not exempt from traffic laws. North Carolina law states that bicycles count as vehicles and bicyclists may use the full lane.

Pedestrians – When Walking

Cross In Expected Locations

Cross the street at an intersection or crosswalk when available.

Make Eye Contact with Drivers

Be certain that a driver sees you. Don’t assume that because you can see them, the driver can see you.

Don’t Walk Distracted

Pay attention to your surroundings at all times.

Make Yourself Visible

Don’t step out behind a parked vehicle. Wear bright colors and have a light at night. When walking along a street that has parking lot entrances or driveways, walk in manner in which you are most likely to be noticed by vehicles entering and exiting.

Use the Built Infrastructure

Always use sidewalks, signals, and crosswalks when available. This infrastructure is intended to keep you safe. If the sidewalk is on the opposite side of the street as your destination, use the sidewalk until you reach an appropriate place to cross. If there is no sidewalk, walk against traffic.

More Information about Crashes

In North Carolina, urban areas saw 4% more bicyclist crashes and 19% more pedestrian crashes over 2010-2019. Pedestrian crashes that were fatal or with suspected serious injury doubled over that 10 year period. With more development and more people moving to North Carolina, it’s important to remember there are more people sharing the road than ever.

More crashes occurred during evening hours surrounding peak commute times, and most pedestrian crashes occur during October-December when daylight hours end the earliest.

Bicycle and pedestrian safety is also a racial equity issue – Black people are involved in bicycle and pedestrian crashes at higher rates than other racial groups.

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Take The Pledge

The BE A LOOKER PLEDGE is a commitment to embrace bicycling and walking as legitimate modes of transportation, to educate oneself on rules of the road, and to prioritize safety. Fill in your name and email to commit to the BE A LOOKER PLEDGE. Reminder emails will be sent quarterly with safety tips, updates, and more useful info. Opt out of emails at any time.