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Burlington police launch new program to increase bike, pedestrian safety

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- For a city its size, Burlington has a lot of crashes involving pedestrians -- 28 so far this year.

"We are at the upper end of that number," Sgt. Sam Epps said. "We are concerned about it. Our goal is to reduce that to zero."

A new way police are working to lower that number is by approaching people they see walking or biking and offering them safety information and free reflective vests and bracelets.

"Any time a pedestrian is hit by a car, it's never good," Epps said. "We've had some pedestrians that have had minor injuries. And we've had some pedestrians hit that have been killed."

Epps said the gear is free to anyone who wants it, but they are especially hoping to target those who walk most, particularly when it's dark out. Burlington resident Kevin McFatter is one of those.

"Do you want these?" Epps asks, handing McFatter a vest and bracelet. "That vest will benefit you greatly because it's got the stripes on the back that are reflective."

"In the morning, when I walk, it's still dark out," McFatter said. "I walk an hour to my job at Biscuitville, at 2 or 3 in the morning. It's still foggy and everything."

McFatter said he's been hit by a car once before and so the new reflective gear is something he'll appreciate the importance of daily.

"I'm glad to see that the Burlington Police Department is trying to keep the civilians safe," he said.

"My hope is that people will come to us and say, 'Hey, I need one of those reflective bands, or I need a vest,'" Epps said.

When walking, police recommend walking against the flow of traffic, facing oncoming cars. And if a sidewalk is available, use it.

You can pick up the free reflective gear and informational pamphlet the Burlington Police Department on 267 W. Front St.