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Bicycle and Pedestrian Resources

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.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

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

Always wear your helmet. Always.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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)

  4. Yield to pedestrians.
  5. Teach safe cycling.

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


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.


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.

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.