The N.C. Board of Transportation has strongly demonstrated its commitment to improving conditions for bicycling and walking in North Carolina by passing a resolution to make bicycling and walking a critical part of the state's transportation system. Although the department incorporated bicycle and pedestrian elements — including bike lanes and sidewalks — into many of its highway projects prior to September 8, 2000, this resolution exemplifies the department's dedication to integrating these elements into its long-range transportation system. It also acknowledges the benefits that bicycling and walking offer: cleaner air, reduced congestion, more livable communities, more efficient use of road space and resources and healthier people.
The resolution also encourages cities and towns across the state to make bicycling and pedestrian improvements an integral part of their transportation planning and programming.
The NC Board of Transportation approved this policy at the July 2009 board meeting. The policy requires planners and designers to consider and incorporate multimodal alternatives in the design and improvement of all transportation projects within a growth area of a municipality unless certain circumstances exist.
In 1978, the North Carolina Board of Transportation adopted the nation's most comprehensive set of bicycle policies in response to the enabling legislation of 1974. These policies were unique at that time in that they detailed how the state DOT would institutionalize bicycle provisions into everyday departmental operating functions. They declared "bicycle transportation to be an integral part of the comprehensive transportation system in North Carolina" and formalized the inclusion of bicycle provisions in highway construction projects.
In 1991, the policy document was updated to clarify responsibilities regarding the provision of bicycle facilities upon and along the 77,000-mile state-maintained highway system. The newer policy details guidelines for planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations pertaining to bicycle facilities and accommodations. All bicycle improvements undertaken by the NCDOT are based upon this policy.
A sidewalk policy was initially developed in 1993 whereby the NCDOT may participate with localities in the construction of sidewalks as incidental features of highway improvement projects. Prior to this policy, the NCDOT participation in sidewalk construction was limited to replacing sidewalks that were disturbed during road construction. Now, at the request of a locality, state funds for a sidewalk are made available as part of an incidental project if matched by the requesting locality, which will be responsible for maintaining the sidewalk. The matching share is a sliding scale based on population.
In 1994 the NCDOT adopted administrative guidelines to consider greenways and greenway crossings during the highway planning process. This policy was incorporated so that critical corridors which have been adopted by localities for future greenways will not be severed by highway construction. Following are the text for the Greenway Policy and Guidelines for implementing it.
NCDOT’s Bridge Policy establishes controlling design elements for new and reconstructed bridges on the state road system. It includes information to address sidewalks and bicycle facilities on bridges, including minimum handrail heights and sidewalk widths.
In 2008, NCDOT developed a flow chart and additional guidance to determine when existing pedestrian traffic can maintained in a Work Zone and how impacts to pedestrian access can be considered at different stages of the project development process before construction begins.