2020: A Year Where Safety Matters Everywhere
As 2020 wraps up, it seems fitting to take a look back at this extraordinary year and focus on some of the positives. When the year started, I was excited to dive further into my role as the Safety Circuit Rider, having been in the position for approximately five months at that point. The Safety Academy schedule was filled with learning opportunities for local agencies, and I was looking forward to those as well as working with locals on safety issues. Before any of that got underway, the pandemic forced us to reconsider how to move forward—if we even could. As it turned out, we were able to do much more than I imagined!
From a training perspective, the Safety Academy was able to offer six virtual courses for credit, with a total of eighty-four attendees. Three of those courses were opportunities shared with us by other Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs) throughout the country, for which we were extremely grateful! We also offered an additional in-person training: a revised Sign Installation and Maintenance course. This is now a two-hour “by request” course that is tailored to your town’s needs. Not only does this keep attendance to the required numbers during COVID, but it also ensures that your sign crew is getting information that is relevant to them.
Technical assistance proved to be a little trickier to coordinate, but with the cooperation of the municipalities that requested assistance, I was able to continue to make in-person visits while abiding by all the proper procedures. I visited twelve municipalities to provide assistance with safety concerns, either at a specific location or through a Road Safety Assessment, or to loan them equipment. With masks on and maintaining social distance, I was able to continue to provide services that were needed. This was especially important during this time, as the pandemic increased the number of pedestrians and bicyclists on local roads. At the same time, with less vehicular volume on the streets, speeds increased. Many municipalities reacted quickly and positively to these changes to address the needs of their residents.
Another positive outcome this year was the development of our Safety Matters Coffee and Conversation series. Bringing locals together virtually for a one-hour conversation with special guests has proven to be successful. Although we have only held two sessions, we are looking forward to continuing this series in 2021.
Of course, some adjustments did have to be made. Many meetings with towns and cities that I would have conducted in-person were done virtually. One of the biggest projects we undertook this year was to provide every municipality in the state with a crash profile “snapshot” of some data we thought might interest them. Eight of the ten meetings I had were conducted virtually. I also attended three COG meetings virtually to introduce myself and provide an update on the Safety Circuit Rider program. Although I would have preferred to meet face-to-face, as I am sure everyone else would have too, I was still happy to have been able to meet at all!
As the year winds down and we look towards a new one, I hope to continue building the relationships I have made with several municipalities and to make new connections. As always, I am here to help and look forward to working with you to make our local roads safe for all!
For information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at firstname.lastname@example.org.