detour on the way to church

Highlights from the federal bike and pedestrian policy

detour on the way to church

I’ve recently mentioned the summary of the current federal transportation policy for bicycling and pedestrian accomodation which was signed on March 10th, 2010.

The document is accessible and relatively brief. I recommend reading through it yourself, but have included below some key highlights I believe are of interest to those advocating for improvements for bicycling in federally funded projects (which includes many state projects).

On application at the local level
The policy directs local governments, not just the states, to adopt similar policy statements:** “The DOT encourages States, local governments, professional associations, community organizations, public transportation agencies, and other government agencies, to adopt similar policy statements on bicycle and pedestrian accommodation as an indication of their commitment to accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians as an integral element of the transportation system. In support of this commitment, transportation agencies and local communities should go beyond minimum design standards and requirements to create safe, attractive, sustainable, accessible, and convenient bicycling and walking networks.”

On considering waking and bicycle as equals:
As a recommended action: “…Consider walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes”

On being compatible with the Complete Streets movement:
The language used sounds very similar to what is promoted by the Complete Streets movement: “…Ensuring that there are transportation choices for people of all ages and abilities, especially children”.

On removing snow from sidewalks and shared-use paths:
“Current maintenance provisions require pedestrian facilities built with Federal funds to be maintained in the same manner as other roadway assets.”

On energy conservation:
The policy highlights that walking and bicycling “reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use” and directs the metropolitan planning process to “promote energy conservation”.

On including trails in Transportation Improvement Plans (TIPs):
It says that transportation plans “…shall include …trails projects, pedestrian walkways; and bicycle facilities…”

On including bike/ped advocates in the planning process::
“The MPOs shall develop and use a documented participation plan that defines a process for providing…representatives of users of pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities, and representatives of the disabled, and other interested parties with reasonable opportunities to be involved in the metropolitan planning process.” (MPO stands for “Metropolitan Planning Organization”. These were created to coordinate regional transportation planning in urban areas. You can see map of the MPOs for Indiana. Notably, Richmond is not listed as belonging to an MPO. I have not yet learned what alternate planning process is used for cities that don’t belong to MPOs.)

On not making things worse for nonmotorized users:
“The Secretary shall not approve any project or take any regulatory action under this title that will result in the severance of an existing major route or have significant adverse impact on the safety for nonmotorized transportation traffic”

On including biking and walking in bridge renovations:
“In any case where a highway bridge deck being replaced or rehabilitated with Federal financial participation is located on a highway on which bicycles are permitted to operate at each end of such bridge, and the Secretary determines that the safe accommodation of bicycles can be provided at reasonable cost as part of such replacement or rehabilitation, then such bridge shall be so replaced or rehabilitated as to provide such safe accommodations.” … Although this statutory requirement only mentions bicycles, DOT encourages States and local governments to apply this same policy to pedestrian facilities as well.”

On improving bike/ped facilities as a part of maintenance projects:
“Improving nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects: Many transportation agencies spend most of their transportation funding on maintenance rather than on constructing new facilities. Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects.”