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  • March 21, 2022

    Slow Down. Give Room.

    A public awareness campaign for safer roads in Kershaw County

    Founder of FGM Internet Marketing Fiona Martin has a passion for cycling and running, which has her spending many hours on her local roadways in Kershaw County, South Carolina. And anyone who has taken to the roads by foot or bicycle in South Carolina knows that it can be scary. Distracted drivers, close passes, dogs on the loose, and even harassment are not uncommon experiences for vulnerable road users. In fact, you can see some of the worst of what Fiona experiences on her bike rides here.

    After many frustrating months of advocating for cyclist and pedestrian rights at the Sheriff’s Office and county government, Fiona connected with Bob Giangiorgi and applied for a grant to run a public awareness campaign through Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County. While Bob and Fiona applied for a $5000 grant to fund a campaign that included billboards, a website, high viz vests, online advertising, and billboards, they were awarded $1500 in the fall of 2020. 

    Fiona, in her role as Campaign Manager, decided to reduce the scope of the campaign to just yard signs due to the reduced budget. Yard signs would give us visibility where the problems were occurring – on the road.

    Campaign goal

    The ultimate goal of the campaign was to get drivers to think twice when approaching a cyclist or pedestrian on the road. We wanted the signs to tell them exactly what to do – SLOW DOWN. GIVE ROOM. 

    Share the Road signs were put up on Kershaw County roads in 2012, but at this point, due to either “ad blindness” or a misunderstanding of what “share the road” means, these signs were effectively useless in changing dangerous driving behavior around vulnerable road users. The SLOW DOWN. GIVE ROOM. signage was to help educate drivers on how exactly to “share the road”. We’re asking drivers to first slow down, assess the situation, and then pass at a safe distance (preferably with 3 feet or more space) when it’s safe to do so. 

    Slow down. give room. and share the road signs

    Our first print run of signs was for 120 vinyl yard signs. With extra funding from KC Trails, we were able to order another 50 signs with larger print that was easier to read. Finally, LiveWell Kershaw provided funding for 8 large vinyl signs that were placed at Kershaw County Convenience Centers (local dumps). This allowed us to cover the most populated areas of the county pretty well. Below is a map of where the signs were placed from February until May 2021.

    Slow down. give room. signs at convenience center

    Campaign Highlights

    The campaign, while small and limited in scope, did generate momentum and conversations with important groups of people in the county about road safety. Some of the campaign highlights included:

    • Fiona giving a presentation at the February 9, 2021 Kershaw County Council meeting with support from Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan.
    • An article about the County Council presentation in the Camden Chronicle-Independent.
    • Local cyclists and runners reported feeling safer with fewer dangerous incidents on the road.
    • Fiona gave presentations to: 
      • Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County
      • City of Camden Council
      • LiveWell Kershaw
      • West Wateree Rotary Club
    • Fiona was appointed to the Kershaw County Planning Commission in March 2021.

    Kershaw County Ride of Silence

    Following the momentum generated from the Slow Down. Give Room. campaign in the spring of 2021, Fiona organized the first Ride of Silence to take place in Kershaw County. The Ride of Silence is a worldwide initiative to memorialize cyclists killed on the roads by motorists, while highlighting the need for safer roads for all. 

    With support from county elected officials Chairman Julian Burns and Councilman Jimmy Jones, and a police escort by the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office and the Camden Police Department, ~30 cyclists took to the road for a 10 mile round trip through Lugoff and Camden. The ride was featured on Columbia local news stations WACH FOX 57 and WOLO ABC

    Kershaw County Ride of Silence