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Existing Conditions

Environmental sensitivity and resource protection are strong goals of NCDOT and walking and bicycling are integral to achieving those goals. Incorporating green infrastructure – including parks, open space, and greenways – into pedestrian and bicycle planning generates many benefits, such as improving air and water quality, maintaining biodiversity by providing wildlife habitat corridors, sequestering carbon, providing recreation spaces, and improving quality of life by creating a connected network of greenways and pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Even a modest increase in walking and bicycling trips (in place of motor vehicle trips) can have significant positive impacts on air and water quality. For example, a family that replaces two miles of driving each day with walking or bicycling will, in one year, prevent 730 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere (1).

Environmental stewardship is represented in many ways across North Carolina today from transportation planning, statewide trails, open space and recreation areas, and environmental education. Walking and bicycling trails through North Carolina landscapes enable tourism, recreation, and environmental education opportunities.

The Conservation Planning Tool (CPT), developed by the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has already been used in comprehensive, long-range transportation planning in North Carolina. This tool identifies important natural heritage features, unique landscapes, farmlands, high quality forests, etc. and is helping planners make more informed land use and transportation decisions.

Similarly, the Green Growth Toolbox (GGT) is a technical assistance tool designed by the NC Wildlife Resource Commission to help communities conserve high quality habitats alongside new homes, workplaces, and shopping centers. It consists of a handbook, GIS dataset, and website. An individualized training workshop and technical assistance is available to communities across the state.

Encouraging pedestrian and bicycle connections in key wildlife and habitat areas between developments helps to minimize the need for connecting roads through sensitive environmental areas. The CPT can be used to identify priority wildlife and habitat areas and the GGT can help communities understand specific land use planning practices that will encourage conservation of these areas.

(1) Federal Highway Administration. (1992). Benefits of Bicycling and Walking to Health.
Find out more about the 5 Pillars of the Plan