Evenson, K.R., Aytur, S.A., Satinsky, S.B., & Rodriguez, D.A. (2011). Barriers to Municipal Planning for Pedestrians and Bicyclists in North Carolina. North Carolina Medical Journal, 72(2), 89-97.
BACKGROUND: The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends implementing community- and street-scale urban design, as well as land use policies and practices, to promote walking and bicycling. To better understand barriers to municipal walking and bicycling projects and policies, we surveyed municipal staff in North Carolina. METHODS: We surveyed all 121 municipalities with at least 5,000 persons, and 62% responded. We also surveyed 216 of 420 municipalities with less than 5,000 persons, and 50% responded. The municipal staff member most knowledgeable about walking and bicycling planning was asked to complete the survey. Responses were weighted to account for the sampling design, to reflect prevalence estimates for all North Carolina municipalities. RESULTS: Common barriers to walking and bicycling projects and policies were selected from a 14-item list. For walking, barriers included lack of funding (93% of responding municipalities), other infrastructure priorities (79%), automobile infrastructure priorities (66%), and staffing challenges (65%). For bicycling, barriers included lack of funding (94% of responding municipalities), other infrastructure priorities (79%), automobile infrastructure priorities (73%), issues were not high priorities for the municipality (68%), staffing challenges (68%), and insufficient support from residents (63%). Barriers generally were more prevalent among rural municipalities than among urban municipalities (9 of 14 barriers for walking and 5 of 14 for bicycling; P < .10). LIMITATIONS: The study relied on 1 respondent to report for a municipality. Additionally, job titles of respondents varied with municipality size. CONCLUSIONS: Health professionals and multidisciplinary partners can assist in overcoming the common local- and state-level barriers to walking and bicycle projects and policies that are reported by North Carolina municipalities.