Bicycle and Pedestrian Resources


  1. Health Benefits of Walking and Cycling
  2. Safety
  3. Commuting
  4. Sidewalks
  5. Durham-Area Bus Systems

1. Health Benefits of Walking and Cycling


Walking in Durham

Downtown Durham is a "walker's paradise". Check to find easily walkable destinations in and around Durham.

Health Benefits

Would you like to decrease your risk for developing numerous chronic diseases and increase your longevity—for free? It’s as simple as opting for the stairs rather than the elevator or picking up your walking shoes rather than the car keys. Physical activity can profoundly improve health and wellness. So pump up your bike tires and hit the road.

But how much activity is enough? And what type of activity will give you the most "bang for your buck?"

Current public health recommendations are for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day. Lighter-intensity activities require more time, and higher-intensity activities require less time.

These recommendations come from national panels of scientists and health professionals and are summarized by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

A brief summary of the Surgeon General's report on physical activity and health can be viewed here.

In addition, the NIH is an excellent source of health information. Here is a link to websites developed from the various institutes within the NIH discussing the health benefits of physical activity.

Want to find out more about the NIH?

Eating well is also an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced new dietary guidelines for making better food choices and living healthier lives.

Information on Exercize

Walk, run, or bike with a friend in Durham

walkers on the American Tobacco Trail
Walkers on the American Tobacco Trail
(photo courtesy of Triangle Rails to Trails)

Designing an Active Community

If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can download and read this 200+ page Tranportation Research Board report on the effects of the built-environment on health.

Private Foundations Promoting Physical Activity and Health

Information for this section was compiled by Tim Griffin, a postdoctoral research associate at Duke University Medical Center and a member of BPAC.

2. Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety


Bicycle Safety

Following these six rules of safe cycling will improve your safety while riding.

  1. Always wear your helmet. Always.

  2. Be visible.

    * Wear light colored or reflective clothing.
    * Put reflective tape on your rims and pedals.
    * Use both front and rear lights from dusk to dawn.

  3. Be aware.

    * Be concious of pot-holes, parked cars, road grates, and debris.
    * Predict and anticiapte drivers' actions.
    --- How to Not Get Hit By Cars (
    --- Traffic Negotiation Principles (NC Coalition for Bicycle Driving)
    * Use a rear-view mirror to increase your awareness of passing and on-coming traffic.

  4. Cycle predictably and defensively.

    * Use hand signals for turning.
    * Follow the rules of the road.
    --- Rules of the Road (League of American Bicyclists)
    --- Bicycle Laws in North Carolina (NC-DOT)

  5. Yield to pedestrians.

  6. Teach safe cycling.

    --- Bike Safety for Kids (NFPA)
    --- Ten Tips for Safe Riding (

Bicycle Accident Data

From 1997 to 2005 bicyclists in Durham County suffered 254 injuries, including 23 disabilities and 4 fatalities.

From 1997 to 2005 bicyclists in Durham County wearing helmets suffered 10 injuries, including one disability and zero fatalities. For accidents invovling bicyclists not wearing helmets, the corresponding numbers are about twenty-times higher.

Broken: Bike-car crashes, cycling laws, and cycling deaths at

Wear a helmet, use a mirror, and practice safe riding skills.

Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian Accident Data

From 1997 to 2005 pedestrians in Durham County suffered 943 injuries, including 156 disabilities and 44 fatalities.

"Perils for Pedestrians" episode on Durham

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Perils for Pedestrians" is a monthly television series promoting awareness of issues affecting the safety of people who walk and bicycle. It takes a national and even international look how cities can become more bike and pedestrian friendly. Durham's own Alison Carpenter and John Tallmage are interviewed in this episode.

Accident Data References

3. Commuting


The average American spends 55 minutes a day behind the wheel of an automobile and over $7,500 a year on transportation costs. The retail price of a new bicycle, however, can be less than $300, with few yearly maintenance costs and far fewer costs to the environment. Bicycling is a healthy, fun way to start and end a work day and will allow you to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. With the rising costs of gasoline, increasing traffic congestion and worsening air quality, why not try bike commuting?

Benefits of Bicycling:

  • Enjoy the outdoors.
  • Save money.
  • Help protect the environment.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Use your time productively.
  • Stay in shape.

Getting Started

The Bike

Many commuters choose a mountain bike or hybrid. These bikes are versatile, strong enough to carry lots of goods, hardy enough to handle all the bumps in the road, and allow the bicyclist to ride in an upright position for increased comfort.

If you are buying a new bike, ask the shop for a fitting. If you are using a bike you've already got, adjust the seat so that your leg is only slightly bent when the pedal is in its bottom-most position. More extension provides you with better power and fewer knee problems.

Take some time to consider what equipment you might need for your bike commute.

Common Commuter Equipment

  • Helmet
  • Mirror (on handelbars or helmet)
  • Lights (front and rear)
  • Reflective tape on frame and rims
  • Rear rack
  • Pannier bags (see picture)
  • Fenders
  • Chain Guard
  • Kick stand

Commuter Gear

What you wear will depend largely on what makes you the most comfortable. Consider how long your commute is, what the weather is like, whether there are shower and/or locker facilities at work, and how formal your workplace setting is, then dress accordingly. Here are some tips on useful gear and equipment.

Common Commuter Clothing & Accessories

  • Helmet (always, all the time)
  • Ankle Bracelet (for keeping your pants out of the chainring)
  • Eyewear/sunglasses
  • Waterproof windbreaker (yellow with some reflective trim)
  • Rain Pants
  • Messenger Bag
  • Lock (U-lock, cable-lock, or chain)
  • Spare tube or patch kit with tire levers
  • Travel pump

Tips for Bike Commuters

Choosing a Route

The route you use to get to and from work in your car might not be the best route by bicycle. If you are just getting started, pick a couple of routes and try them on the weekend. Then, choose the best one for you based on ease, enjoyment and timing.

Information for RTP Commuters

The SmartCommute Program provides information and services for RTP commuters. To communicate with other RTP cyclists and pedestrians, join the Bicycle and Pedestrian Listserv for the RTP Area.

Resources for Bike Commuters

Biking and Walking to Schools

Biking/walking to school is a great American past-time, which has become increasing less prevalent in the last 40 years. Schools are located farther from neighborhoods, schedules and lifestyles have changed, and parents are worried about safety issues. However, the benefits of walking or biking to school are great - increased health and fitness, quality time spent between children and parents, and setting healthy behavior patterns for today's youth are just a few.

Many adults remember their childhood travels to school with euphoric nostalgia - considering the freedom of biking home with friends, or the quality time spent walking to school with parents. Most people would love to walk or bike to school with their children, and many children would love the opportunity to do the same. There are lots of opportunities to help improve the pedestrian environment around schools and organize events to increase safety and confidence, so that children and parents feel comfortable biking and walking to school.

If you would like to learn more, take a look at the following resources and work with your principal and PTA to get started!

International Walk to School Day

Each October, millions of children, parents, teachers and community leaders across the globe walk to school to celebrate International Walk to School Day. It is an energizing event, reminding parents and children alike of the simple joy of walking to school. It also serves as an opportunity to focus on the importance of physical activity, safety, air quality and walkable communities. Walk to School activities often become a catalyst for on-going efforts to increase safe walking and bicycling all of the time.

Steps to Get Started:

  1. Get Partners
    - work with the principal, public officials, PTA volunteers, police and other local organizations like the Durham SAFE Kids Coalition to form a partnership.
  2. Create a Plan
    - plan a great event that works for your school. If walking to school from home is too far, plan to meet up at a central location and walk a mile to school; if many parents are unable to attend the event, plan to use a "walking school bus" model. For ideas, visit the National Walk to School website.
  3. Register Your Event
    - make your event known by registering here.
  4. Promote Your Event
    - contact parents and staff to inform them of the event and encourage their participation. Work through existing channels, such as school newsletters, morning news, etc. Also, contact the local media to gain wider attention to the purpose of the event and issues that children and parents face when it comes to biking and walking to school.

Now, you're ready to go! For other great ideas and resources (like stickers), visit the California Walk to School website.

NC Safe Routes to School Program

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is a new funding program that is 100% federally funded, as opposed to most federally-funded programs which are 80% funded. This does not permit a local match, primarily to ensure that equal weight is given to communities with limited resources.

Funding is allocated over a three-year period. The minimum that will be allocated per state is $1 million per year. On average, North Carolina is about 22% higher than the National average. The following chart displays the current three-year allocation schedule:




North Carolina

$1 million



National Average

$1 million



% Change


+ 20%

+ 24%

ALL federal funding must go through the local Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), also known as the TIP/STIP process. However, these projects can be bundled as infrastructure and non-infrastructure. Funding can include training volunteers, street crossings, safety and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), bicycle/pedestrian lanes, etc.

Although no local match is permitted, local governments are allowed to contribute to a project. All projects must be within two miles of a K-8 school.

The SRTS program allows for a great variety of programs that can be implemented. However, there are projects that are not allowed. The following are ineligible activities:

The SRTS program is implemented through the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Further guidance on the program’s implementation will be provided by the new Safe Routes program Director Terry Canales.

For more information on this program, please visit the Safe Routes to School website at:

Other Resources

Travel Alternatives for Colleges and Universities

Redefine Travel

Ever wonder how much money you could save by taking the bus, carpooling, walking or biking to school? Need more information on how to find a route or get the right bus schedule? Redefine the way you travel –visit for transportation information specifically geared to Triangle area university students. Find a biking route to school or a bus schedule that will get you to the mall. Wherever you need to go, Redefine Travel can help you get there.

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University is Durham's second largest college campus. Located between Fayetteville Street and Alston Avenue just south of Durham's downtown, NCCU is a very bike and pedestrian friendly campus.

NCCU is accessible by the Rocky Creek/Pearsontown trail, a spur of the American Tobacco Trail which connects NCCU with Durham's longest Greenway. NCCU is also accessible from the American Tobacco Trail by taking Otis to Formosa. This places bicyclists at an advantage when accessing the NCCU campus from downtown and/or southern Durham. This also allows students to cycle to RTP for internships, research, and/or jobs.

In addition to cycling opportunities, NCCU is a walkable campus with access to stores, restaurants, and housing along the historic Fayetteville St. To plan a walking route of campus, visit the NCCU campus map for an overview of building and street locations.

For additional information on NCCU transportation services, visit the Campus Police website.

Duke University - Facilities

Duke University, with a student body of over 12,000, is the largest employer in Durham County - staffing nearly 30,000 people across its two campuses and various medical facilities. Duke also has a strong and growing cycling community, and many opportunities for biking and walking to, from and around campus.

Campus Drive, the main avenue connecting Duke's east and west campus, is equipped with bicycle lanes. Also, Duke University Rd, Academy Dr, and Chapel Dr all have designated bike lanes for cycling. There are also bike racks in close proximity to almost all campus buildings and residence halls . Free bicycle registration is available for students and staff through the Transportation and Parking Services Department.

In addition to cycling opportunities, Duke is quite transit-accessible. The campus is served by the regional TTA and local DATA bus services, as well as its own campus-area transit system for Duke students, faculty, and staff, which is equipped with frontloading racks for carrying bicycles. For more information about campus transit schedules and bus stop locations, visit For information on other area transit opportunities, visit our transit resource page.

Walking is also encouraged as a form of transportation on campus. Pedestrians have the right of way throughout the Duke campus, and motorists may receive a citation for not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Duke University - Advocacy

The Office of Environmental Sustainability encourages cycling as a form of transportation to and around campus. They have sponsored recent events such as a May Bike to Work Week and a variety of bike repair workshops for students and staff.

The Duke Bike Advocates is a group of students, faculty, and staff who are working to promote a more bicycle-friendly campus. These advocates meet regularly to work on advancing transportation policy at Duke and throughout Durham. They accept donations of bikes to fix up and distribute to Duke community members who need them, and they offer a "commuter buddy" program to help members of the Duke community get started bike commuting. They also regularly plan events such as rallies and bike fix-up days, often jointly sponsored with other Duke groups. Communication is through two e-mail lists, one for "organizers" who want to be heavily involved in planning, and the second for folks who want to be notified of events and opportunities for participation. See the website for additional info on how to get involved or how to subscribe to these lists.

The Duke Cycling team, sponsored by Duke University, offers students and staff an opportunity to participate in competitive and/or social riding. New members are welcome to both groups; please see their respective websites for additional information on how to get involved.

Durham Technical Community College

Durham Technical Community College is the third largest higher education institute in Durham City/County. Durham Tech is a two year community college, located on Lawson Street - due east of the NCCU campus. Durham Tech is easily accessible by bus, as it is served by the regional TTA and local DATA transit agencies. In fact, Durham Tech will benefit greatly from the planned rail station at Alston Avenue, which will be located across NC147 from campus and accessible by a bike and pedestrian bridge over the freeway.

In addition to transit access, biking to Durham Tech's campus is convenient via the same Rocky Creek/Pearsontown Trail that provides access to NCCU. Cyclists can access the residential Lawson Street from the trail end at NCCU’s campus, and take Lawson Street east all the way to Durham Tech. To plan a biking or walking route through campus, visit the campus map for a bird's eye view of all buildings and streets.

Information for this section was compiled by Alison Carpenter, Durham's Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Planner, and Phillip Barron.

4. Sidewalks


In July 2004 the City of Durham was awarded an NCDOT Pedestrian Planning Grant in the amount of $37,500 to use toward the cost of a Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan. The Public Works Department allocated additional funding for the project, and in April 2005 the Cary-based consulting firm, Louis Berger Group, Inc. was hired to provide a comprehensive sidewalk inventory and pedestrian plan for the entire city.

Consultants with the Louis Berger Group have worked with citizens and City staff over the last 10 months to complete the DurhamWalks Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan. The project scope included extensive public involvement, a citywide pedestrian facility inventory, policy analysis and recommendations, issue and opportunity identification, project prioritization, evaluation and recommendation of ancillary facilities and programs, funding analysis and implementation plan, and the final comprehensive plan development. City staff and consultants have presented the Draft Plan and its components to the citizens of Durham in February and March 2006 through public workshops, at local PAC meetings, and at the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meetings. Comments and feedback received during the review period are being incorporated into the final version Draft Plan, which will be presented to the City Council for recommended adoption on May 1, 2006.

To review a copy of the DurhamWalks Pedestrian Plan and its recommendations, visit, or read the BPAC Summary of the plan.

Everyone wants to know how decisions to place sidewalks are made. Here's some information, current as well as background, on citywide sidewalk funding options. The text is from the City of Durham Public Works Department.

1996 Bond Sidewalk Program

The New Sidewalk Construction Program provides for construction of sidewalk. This program is intended to serve pedestrians using public right of way. The program was originated by City Council, with an objective of constructing sidewalk on at least one side of all major and minor thoroughfares within the core area of the city. The total budget for the project is 3.5 million dollars funded by a bond referendum in 1996. This funding source is in the final stages of construction with all funds exhausted.

Sidewalk Payment in Lieu

Sidewalks are required to be constructed as part of the approval of a development plan or site plan. Subject to the approval of the Development Review Board and only under specific circumstances, a fee can be paid rather that construct sidewalk along the Public Right of Way. The rate of Payment in Lieu for Sidewalk is set at $20.00 per linear foot, less the current sidewalk assessment rate which is $5.00 per linear foot. This yields the current Payment in Lieu rate for sidewalk of $15.00 per linear foot along the frontage of the subject lot. This fund is very limited and is intended to fill in small sidewalk gaps.

Sidewalk Petition Process

The Sidewalk Petition Process is a method whereby citizens have the opportunity to request a sidewalk at any given location. The requestor serves as the petitioner to secure signatures. The property owners at the sidewalk location pay a portion of the cost through an assessment. The current assessment rate for sidewalks is $5 per linear foot. Citizens may request a sidewalk petition and learn more about the petition process by calling Engineering Services (560-4326).

An individual, serving as the "petition sponsor," requests a petition from the City. As a part of the request the sponsor outlines the limits of the area to be served. They indicate the starting point and ending point of the sidewalk and on which side of the street. Typically the sidewalk does not begin mid-block, but is begun and ended at street intersections and includes complete blocks. For example one set of limits could be "Markham Ave (north side) between Ninth Street and Broad Street." Once the limits have been determined the City prepares a petition for the sponsor to circulate.

The petition needs to be sufficient on two criteria, with sufficient being defined as representing more that 50 percent of citizens within the criteria. The petition needs to be signed by a majority (50%+) of the property owners adjacent to the proposed improvement, and their properties must represent the majority (50%+) of the road frontage involved. The petition is returned to Engineering and researched to determine if it is sufficient, then the petition is taken to City Council for action.

A public hearing is held to consider the issue. Assuming Council approves the project it is returned to Engineering for design and placement into a contract. Once the project is complete the adjacent property owners are assessed a portion of the project costs. The current assessment rate for sidewalks is $5.00 per foot. This assessment can be paid at the time it is levied or it can be paid out in annual installments over 5 years at 9% interest. One thing you should be aware of is that the City has very limited funding each year for sidewalk projects. Once a project is ordered by Council it may still take several years before it is actually constructed.

Sidewalk Repair

Funding is requested annually as a part of the budget process for repair of sidewalks. Historic funding levels have been approximately $100,000 per year.

ADA Wheelchair Ramps

Funding is requested annually as a part of the budget process for installing wheelchair ramps in sidewalk locations without ramps. Historic funding levels have been approximately $100,000 per year.

New Development

Developers are required to construct sidewalks on certain adjacent streets as a part of their development. Sidewalk must be constructed on both sides of major and minor thoroughfares within the "urban growth area" (UGA). For all other roads within the UGA, sidewalk must be placed on at least one side of the road. The Transportation Division, at its own discretion, may require that sidewalks be constructed on both sides of roads in heavy commercial, heavy retail or heavy residential areas.

5. Buses, Bikes, and Your Feet

So, you want to walk or bike-commute to work but don't feel like you can walk or ride the whole way? The local bus systems can help. The Durham Area (DATA) and Triangle Transit Authorities (TTA) provide bike racks on the front of all buses. The following websites provide information on using DATA, TTA, and other local bus systems.

Using Bike Racks

The TTA website provides step-by-step guidelines for how to use the bike rack on each bus.

Trip Planning

GoTriangle.Org provides an automated trip planner, ride-share matching service, and information on the Emergency Ride Home program.

Bus Systems

The following transit websites provide bus schedules, maps, and guidelines on how to use the bus systems.

Durham (DATA)
Triangle-wide (TTA)
Chapel Hill
Raleigh Area (CAT)

The newest addition to the local bus systems is the American Tobacco Historic District's Lunchtime Trolley. Weekdays, from 11:40am until 2:00pm, the free trolley travels between Blackwell Street downtown and the 9th Street district. You can go to Downtown Durham, Inc.'s website to read more about it, or click here for a printer-friendly map with information.