Providence, RI – Road safety is a serious matter, but RI Waves takes a light-hearted approach — with the help of the likes of WJAR’s Mario Hilario, Jim Nellis of RI Food Fights, WaterFire Providence’s Barnaby Evans, and the gargoyle of TEN31 Productions.
Organized by Bike Newport, the video, outdoor, print, and social media public awareness campaign has a simple message: all road users can be noticed — by stopping, looking, and exchanging a wave at every crossing. It’s all done in the name of getting to wherever we need to go safely.
The campaign officially kicked off on Tuesday at a press conference at the Warwick Public Library.
“We’ve had too many pedestrian tragedies,” said Colonel Stephen McCartney, Police Chief of Warwick in his welcome remarks. “This campaign is a good idea and when there’s a good idea, it’s always good to sit back and listen.”
“We’re driving home the message that we all have the capability of being noticed by doing the wave,” added Bari Freeman, Executive Director of Bike Newport. “It’s an effective form of acknowledgment among pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists and a way to say, ‘I see you, do you see me?’ before continuing to get to wherever we are going.”
The campaign originated from Newport Waves, which was introduced in the City by the Sea in 2015 and again in 2017. Similar to RI Waves, the objective was to encourage all road users to stop, look, and exchange a wave. The campaign’s success served as a proof of concept and caught the attention of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT).
“In the last ten years, we’ve lost 139 pedestrians due to car crashes — 13 of whom were cyclists,” stated Peter Alviti, Director of RIDOT. “We’re proud to have provided support for this program, which is part of our ongoing commitment of bringing traffic and pedestrian fatalities in this state down to zero over the next ten years.”
The initial launch of RI Waves features four short videos featuring recognizable Rhode Islanders and characters, in addition to print/digital posters and a campaign website. Campaign organizers plan to roll out more video content through the next year.
“AAA has advocated for traffic safety for well over 100 years and we’re thrilled to be a part of this initiative,” stated David Raposa, Managing Director of Public Affairs of AAA Northeast. “This is a simple message, but there is actually some real science behind it. Our work on distracted driving has shown us that drivers can look right at you and not really see you if they’re focusing on something else.”
Another partner that is bringing RI Waves statewide is the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). “We’re happy to be part of this campaign and look forward to its great success,” added Scott Avedisian, CEO of RIPTA. “There will be digital advertising in the interior of our buses and we’re planning on sharing the campaign’s content on our social media platforms and newsletters.”
AAA has pledged to promote the campaign on its website, in addition to spreading the word through email, flyers distributed at branch offices and events, as well as ad space in its member magazine. The message behind RI Waves will be delivered to thousands of children through AAA’s Buster the Talking Bus™.
Visitors to Blackstone Valley Visitors Center in Pawtucket can look forward to viewing the campaign videos on the Center’s large screen TVs.
“We expect to announce more statewide and local campaign placement soon,” shared Freeman.
On November 2, RI Waves is conducting a webinar for anyone interested in learning about the campaign tools and placement opportunities.
“We’re excited about this partnership and thank RI Waves for helping us expand our safety program at RIDOT. We look forward to continuing our work together,” concluded Alviti.
For more information and to register for the webinar, visit www.riwaves.org.