Public Outreach in Pedestrian Plan for Durham, North Carolina: Effectiveness in a Diverse Community

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - signage/information, land use - planning, mode - pedestrian


Public participation, Public outreach, Public involvement, Public information programs, Planning, Pedestrians, Local participation, Durham (North Carolina), Citizen participation


Roadway and bridge projects serve a broad population, most of which can readily accommodate changes in travel routes. Pedestrian projects, however, frequently have direct impact on specific populations that are highly sensitive to changes in the transportation network and the level of service to pedestrians. Therefore pedestrian plans must have both targeted and broad-sweeping public involvement programs. For many projects, the public involvement program is restricted by the total level of resources applied to the project. Durham, North Carolina, an extremely diverse city, undertook the preparation of a pedestrian plan. A combined 6.6% of Durham’s workers take public transit or walk to work. The Durham pedestrian plan process was accompanied by an intensive public involvement and outreach program, which took a two-pronged approach. First, a stakeholder committee was established. Second, the public outreach effort created a series of opportunities for the general public to learn more about the plan and to provide comment. The Durham pedestrian plan does not support the oft-cited claim that insufficient project funding is an insurmountable obstacle to conducting a successful public involvement effort. Recommendations for improving public outreach programs include implementing a variety of techniques to incorporate diverse citizens, clearly stating public outreach objectives early and often, and devoting time and resources to assessing the effectiveness of public outreach efforts, both during and after the study.