Bicycle & Pedestrian

In today's society more and more people want to walk or ride bicycles. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic is increasing because people want to live healthier. Another driving force is policy decisions by our federal, state and local governments. One of the United States Department of Transportation's policies is: "It is Federal transportation policy to promote increased use of bicycling, and encourage planners and engineers to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian needs in designing transportation facilities for urban and suburban areas."  In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users was passed  (SAFETEA-LU) in 1998. This legislation requires that urban areas have fully integrated transportation plans including thoroughfare plans, transit plans and bicycle and pedestrian plans.


In addition to federal requirements, the State of North Carolina has published the North Carolina Bicycle Facilities Planning and Design Guidelines. This document states the following as North Carolina's policy on bicycling: "Pursuant to the Bicycle and Bikeways Act of 1974, the Board of Transportation finds that bicycling is a bonafide highway purpose subject to the same rights and responsibilities and eligible for the same considerations as other highway purposes."


As our society becomes more bicycle and pedestrian oriented, we need to develop a relationship between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians based on safety and fluid movement for both modes of transportation. The primary goal of bicycle planning is to encourage the development of safe bicycle transportation through proper planning of future facilities and improvements of existing ones.


Properly planned sidewalks and walkways can increase pedestrian mobility, safety and accessibility, particularly for disabled persons. In the planning process, it is also important to consider all users of the pedestrian system, including individuals using wheelchairs.


Sidewalks not only provide separation between pedestrians and motor vehicles, but also have been shown to reduce pedestrian accidents in residential and business areas. Sidewalks in residential areas also provided paved areas for children's play, instead of the street. Additional pedestrian traffic can be generated as a result of new sidewalks. The ease of pedestrian movements on sidewalks, however, is reduced when they are cluttered with numerous poles, newsstands, trashcans and other obstacles.


Pedestrian facilities include walkways, traffic signals, crosswalks and other amenities such as illumination and benches. A walkway is built for use by pedestrians and persons in wheelchairs. Walkways include sidewalks, paths and shoulders, which can serve pedestrians in many rural areas.


Pedestrian activity in rural areas is limited because travel distances tend to be great. State highways and county roads with wide paved shoulders usually provide adequate room for walking. Many older roads and highways are narrow, with poor sight distances and do not serve pedestrians well. In sparsely populated areas, the shoulders of rural roads usually accommodate pedestrians. In rural areas with a residential character, but with low population densities, shoulders should be wide enough to accommodate both pedestrian and bicycle traffic. There are, however, roadways outside urban areas where the urban character creates a need for sidewalks, such as highly developed commercial strips or residential clusters along county or state highways. Where sidewalks are not provided, shoulders should be wide enough to accommodate pedestrians. Path provided on one or both sides of a roadway in a rural community may be appropriate for providing access to schools.


Further Information:

Navigate Services

Navigate Services

Local Planning

City of Hickory Sidewalk, Bikeway, Greenway, and Trail Master Plan

Regional Planning

Carolina Thread Trail Master Plan for Catawba County Communities Pt. 1

Carolina Thread Trail Master Plan for Catawba County Communities Pt. 2

Carolina Thread Trail Master Plan for Catawba County Communities Pt. 3

Carolina Thread Trail County Status - Map

Visit the Carolina Thread Trail website at:


Visit the NCDOT Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation at



The Western Piedmont Bicycle Plan (WPBP)


The Western Piedmont Bicycle Plan (WPBP) is intended to improve safety, access, and mobility for cyclists by developing a network of designated routes that connect municipalities and other major destinations in the region. The WPBP will identify needed improvements to existing roadways, prioritize the improvements, and develop a signage plan to mark the identified routes.

Western Piedmont Bicycle Plan - Draft

Western Piedmont Bicycle Plan Executive Summary - Draft

Western Piedmont Bicycle Plan Appendix

The Western Piedmont Council of Governments shall serve all local government members in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties with professional, cost-effective assistance on a variety of local, regional, state and federal issues and programs.

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Telephone: ​828.322.9191

Fax: 828.322.5991

Mailing: P.O. Box 9026 | Hickory, NC 28603
Location: 1880 2nd Avenue NW
Hickory, NC 28601

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