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Environmental Enhancements

Recent Developments

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America Walks Holds Webinar on Public Spaces

America walks held a webinar on April 23 titled “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper And Healthier,” to highlight the health outcomes that can emerge from improved walkable public spaces. The webinar featured insight from Kate Rube, of the Project for Public Spaces, and Jennifer Smith, of the Greater Kennedy Plaza, and included discussion of low-cost, high-impact ideas for public policy, safety, suburban and rural communities, street design and spaces such as farmer’s markets and active recreational amenities. For more information and a recording of the webinar, link here. (5-21-15)

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Mineta Transportation Institute Releases Report on Bus Travel Demand

A report examining the demand for transit travel by bus mode has been issued by the Mineta Transportation Institute. The report uses measurable statistical variables in 358 metropolitan statistical areas in the lower 48 states.  It found that seven internal variables and one external variable affect demand for bus transit, which led to the conclusion that transit authorities have a high level of control over increasing bus ridership. Internal variables over which officials have control include transit supply, transit fare, average headway, transit coverage, service intensity, revenue hours and safety. For the full report, link here. (5-21-15)

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FHWA Releases Design Guide for Separated Bike Lanes

A design guide on implementing protected bike lanes has been issued by the Federal Highway Administration. The Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide highlights ways that communities are implementing protected bike lanes and provides planning and design recommendations, including midblock and intersection scenarios. The guide uses specific examples from across the country to address the planning and design process, the choosing of locations, funding, maintenance, outreach and project evaluation. It also encourages ongoing research and development through the examination of different communities’ successes.  To access the full guide, link here. (5-18-15)

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University Transportation Center Ranks Cities for Walking Accessibility to Jobs

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies has released a study that ranks cities by their accessibility to jobs by walking, titled Access Across America: Walking 2014, as part of the Access Across America series from the Accessibility Observatory. The study used a weighted average of accessibility to produce the rankings, giving more weight to jobs reached in less time, and details accessibility values for each metropolitan area and provides block-level maps. Topping the rankings are New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Link here for more information and the full study. (5-13-15)

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League of American Bicyclists Releases Bicycle Friendly State Rankings

The League of American Bicyclists has released its 2015 Bicycle Friendly State ranking, with the state of Washington continuing to lead the pack for the eighth year in a row. The rankings provide an overall ranking, state report cards and category maps. It uses scoring criteria addressing education and encouragement, infrastructure and funding, legislation and enforcement, programs and policies, and evaluation and planning. For the full list of rankings, link here. (5-11-15)

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TRB Releases Report on Liability Aspects of Pedestrian Facilities

The Transportation Research Board has released a digest through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program examining tort claims that arise from pedestrian facilities, such as sidewalks and crosswalks, concerning pedestrian accidents and Americans with Disabilities Act violations. The digest, Liability Aspects of Pedestrian Facilities (Legal Research Digest 65), points out that there are many more claims than are reported in the media, and not all involve large settlements, but state and local agencies must keep in mind pedestrian safety and civil rights compliance when designing streets and associated pedestrian facilities in order to prohibit costly lawsuits. The digest addresses several types of events that bring about legal claims and that must be considered, including tripping and falling in a crosswalk. For the full digest, link here. (5-5-15)

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NACTO Releases Report on Bike Shares

The National Association of City Transportation Officials has performed an analysis of the successes of bike share programs that focus on walkable bike station spacing. The study found that ridership increased with higher station density, a sensible layout and protected bike lanes, and determined that riders will normally walk no more than approximately 1,000 feet to access a station. To carry out the analysis, NACTO used data from Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and Minneapolis bike share programs and also looked at successes internationally in Mexico City and Paris. According to the study, aiming for about 28 stations per square mile will yield the highest ridership. For the full report, link here. (4-28-15)

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LadderSTEP Technical Assistance Program to be introduced at the DOT

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced a program that will assist seven cities in fostering transportation projects related to sustainable economic development. The program, LadderSTEP, will support transportation infrastructure to revitalize communities in Atlanta, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix and Richmond. Various organizations have also expressed interest in the technical assistance pilot, such as the Urban Land Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council and Local Initiatives Support Corporation. For more information, link to the announcement. (4-23-15)

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Guidebook Aims to Help Planners Prioritize Pedestrian, Bicycle Transportation on Existing Roads

A tool to prioritize improvements to pedestrian and bicycle transportation has been issued as part of research conducted for the Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The “ActiveTrans Priority Tool Guidebook” (NCHRP Report 803) is meant to assist planners in the efficient use of resources, and is accompanied by software on a CD that uses a programmed spreadsheet for implementation of the tool. For the full guidebook and more information on the CD, link here. (4-20-15)

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Minnesota Case Study on Counting Pedestrians, Bicyclists Posted by FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has released a case study addressing the impact of walking and bicycling activity on the management of transportation systems in Minnesota. This case study provides guidance for monitoring non-motorized traffic consistently throughout the state. The goal of the data collection is to inform future planning, policy and budgeting decision-making. For example, MnDOT was able to utilize data for their Towards Zero Deaths approach to reduce injuries and fatalities. For more information, link to the case study. (3-19-15)

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FHWA Releases 2014 Recreational Trails Program Report

The Federal Highway Administration has released its annual report on the use and benefits of Federal Recreational Trails Program funding. The report provides information about the projects funded in FY 2013 and serves as a guide to the program for trail managers and the general public. It also documents national trends and issues that are currently affecting trails. For more information and the report, link to http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/overview/report/2014/report_2014.pdf. (3-5-15)

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Materials from AASHTO Transportation and Health Peer Exchange Available

Materials from the AASHTO Transportation and Health Peer Exchange, held on Dec. 16, 2014, are now available on the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO website.  The purpose of the peer exchange was to lay the foundation for future conversations among AASHTO committees, and it also allowed attendees to share experiences across planning, environment, public transportation, and safety in support of public health. For more information, including a White Paper summary and presentations, link to the Transportation and Health Peer Exchange web page. (2-27-15)

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FHWA Issues Memo Listing Available Flexible Transportation Alternatives Funds

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a memo notifying states of flexible excess Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds available for this fiscal year. The memo includes a list of flexible excess TAP funds available by state. Most states and the District of Columbia have at least some funds accessible to them. Eleven states have no available funding. Under MAP-21, funds that are allocated to states but that are not reserved from specific TAP programs or not otherwise obligated become available for use either on TAP-eligible projects or for any activity that has been approved for funds under Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program, at the state's discretion. The text of the memo is available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/transportation_alternatives/guidance/flex_excess.cfm. (2-9-15)

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U.S. DOT Announces Partnership to Expand Workforce Development

The United States Department of Transportation and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) have announced a collaborative effort to expand youth workforce development opportunities and strengthen transportation career pathways at the state level. By collaborating with state and regional transportation agencies to use CNCS members in DOT-supported projects, states and municipalities can provide a ladder of economic and educational opportunity to disadvantaged youth, setting them on a pathway of success. For more information, Creating Access to Opportunity. (1-8-15)

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FHWA Summarizes Pedestrian and Bicycle Activities

The Federal Highway Administration has made available a summary of recent, ongoing and upcoming pedestrian and bicycle research and activities. The document includes initiatives taken by FHWA offices with links to research publications, project webpages and office contacts. The summary document was put together in preparation for the 2015 Annual TRB Meeting to provide insight into the planning and decision process common to building an alternative transportation system that focuses on accessibility and safety. For more information, link to Summary of Federal Highway Administration Pedestrian and Bicycle Research and Program Activities. (1-5-15)

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Report Released on Maintenance of Bicycle and Walking Facilities

A report released by the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking addresses both the technical and political challenges of how communities can pay for maintaining walking trails, bike lanes and sidewalks. The report examines transportation agency maintenance policies and provides case studies of communities that made nonmotorized facilities a priority. For more information, link to the report, How Communities Are Paying to Maintain Trails, Bike Lanes, and Sidewalks. (12-12-14)

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RTC Announces 'Active Transportation' Investment Poll Results

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has announced the release of survey results regarding voter perception on the federal funding of active transportation. The survey reached a proportion of likely 2016 voters from both Republican and Democratic parties that matched the national voting population. The poll found that 74% of the respondents favor increasing or maintaining the current levels of federal investments in active transportation while 19% favor decreasing the current levels. The poll findings will be an important tool for trail builders and supporters for trail funding. For more information, link to the press release. (12-10-14)

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FHWA Announces Upcoming TAP Guidebook

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the development of a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Performance Management Guidebook. The Guidebook will provide sample performance objectives and measures that states, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and project sponsors may consider as they administer, implement, and evaluate the TAP and program outcomes. The Guidebook will align with the MAP-21 national goals and the FHWA's Transportation Performance Management measures. The FHWA expects to complete this Guidebook in summer 2015. For more information, link here. (11-12-14)

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FHWA Releases Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning Handbook

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a handbook to help state departments of transportation develop or update state pedestrian and bicycle plans. For each stage of the planning process, the handbook uses recent experiences and noteworthy practices from DOTs around the country. The handbook covers statewide planning from plan inception and scoping to engaging stakeholders and the general public. For more information, link to the report, Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning Handbook. (10-23-14)

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Report Analyzes How Safe Routes to School is Adapting to Transportation Alternatives Program

A report from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership looks at the transition to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). In 2012, Congress consolidated the federal Safe Routes to School program into TAP and made a number of changes to how the funds are awarded to states. For the report, the National Partnership conducted interviews with Safe Routes to School coordinators from 10 state department of transportation to gather information about how their TAP implementation decisions are affecting Safe Routes to School funding. For more information, link to the report, Safe Routes to School: How States are Adapting to a New Legislative Framework. (10-29-14) 

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Study Provides Tools to Estimate Bicycling and Walking Demand

A guidebook containing methods and tools for practitioners to estimate bicycling and walking demand as part of regional-, corridor-, or project-level analyses has been issued under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP 08-78). The research a includes a guidebook for practitioners on a range of methods for estimating bicycling and walking activity and a CD-ROM containing a GIS Walk Accessibility Model, and spreadsheets. It also includes a final report that documents the research and tools. For more information, link here. (10-30-14)

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Analysis of Bicycle Commute Data Finds Numbers Growing

The number of bicycle commuters has been estimated at almost 900,000 in 2013, according to information released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The information, analyzed by the League of American Bicyclists from part of the American Community Survey, also finds that 0.62 percent of commutes are on bicycle, up slightly from 2012. The cities of Houston, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh show significant increases in commuters on bikes. For more information, link to Where We Ride: An Analysis of Bicycle Commuting in American Cities. (9-19-14)

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DOT Announces Initiative to Enhance Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced an initiative to reduce the growing number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities. The 18-month campaign will begin with road safety assessments conducted by DOT field offices in every state, and will produce multiple resources to help communities build streets that are safer for people walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation. For more information, link to the announcement. (9-10-14)

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FTA Announces Availability of Nearly $20 Million for Transit-Oriented Development Planning

The Federal Transit Administration has announced the availability of $19.98 million in funding under the Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning, as authorized under Section 20005(b) of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The program augments FTA's Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants Program by supporting comprehensive planning associated with new fixed guideway and core capacity improvement projects. Proposals to compete for funding are due Nov. 3. For more information on how to apply for funding and criteria for project selection, link to the notice. (9-5-14)

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AASHTO Issues New Design Guide for Integration of Transit Facilities in the Roadway Environment

AASHTO has issued a new design guide to assist planners and engineers on integrating transit facilities into the roadway environment. The first of its kind, the new guide is intended to be a comprehensive reference of current best practices for a range of transit facilities including bus, streetcar and light rail systems, and high occupancy vehicle lanes. For more information on The Guide for Geometric Design of Transit Facilities on Highways and Streets, link to the announcement. (8-19-14)

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FHWA Issues Q and A in Support of NACTO Urban Street Design Guide

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a list of questions and answers as a supplement to the agency’s 2013 Memorandum on Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility Design Flexibility. The Q and A document addresses the agency’s support of the Urban Street Design Guide issued by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Questions about separate guides or applications as they relate to the concept of design flexibility will be issued individually as needed. For more information, link to http://goo.gl/jsLtwh. (7-28-14)

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Survey Highlights Attitudes of Urban Residents Toward Transportation, Other Concerns

The American Society of Landscape Architects has announced the release of a report on the attitudes of urban residents. The report is based on a survey conducted by a private planning and design firm that gathered information in Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. about what residents find appealing or frustrating in their cities. The report discusses responses regarding architecture, activities, parks and open space, transportation, and urban planning. For more information, link to the announcement at http://dirt.asla.org/2014/07/23/new-survey-what-makes-a-city-great/. (7-23-14)

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UDOT Receive National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies Award

The National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies awarded the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) with a national award for its Outdoor Advertising Control Map. The map allows UDOT and the general public to locate highways with controlled outdoor advertising. In addition, the map allows users to locate all permitted billboards along controlled highways. For more information, link to UDOT Receives National Award for Its Outdoor Advertising Control Map. (6-19-14)

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WSDOT Installs Cutting-Edge Beacon System to Alert Drivers to Presence of Bicyclists

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has installed the first-ever remote flashing beacon system to alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists on a roadway. Installed on State Route 150 between Chelan and Manson, the yellow flashing beacons are activated whenever a bicycle passes. The beacons say “narrow shoulder” and “watch for bikes.” If WSDOT receives positive feedback from drivers and bicyclists, it will consider installing similar systems in other parts of the state. For more information, link to Dump the pump and save this summer. (6-16-14)

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Advocacy Advance Compiles State Revenue Sources for Bike and Ped Funding

Advocacy Advance has released a report that compiles the over 25 public revenue sources that states utilize to fund active transportation projects. The organization has also released an accompanying online tool that allows users to search their own state to inquire about the sources that are utilized. On July 15, 2014, Advocacy Advance will host a webinar to discuss both the report and online tool. For more information, link to New Resources: State Funding Sources for Walking and Biking Projects. (6-9-14)

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FHWA Releases Progress Report on Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program

FHWA has released a progress report on the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program for 2014. The pilot program, authorized by Congress in 2005, funds the development of walking and bicycling networks in Columbia, Mo., Marin County, Calif., Minneapolis Area, Minn., and Sheboygan County, Wis. The report examines the pilot program’s implementation approaches and how bicycling and pedestrian enhancements increase mobility, safety, public health, the environment, and energy conservation. Between 2007 and 2013, communities in the pilot program increased the number of walking trips and bicycling trips by 22.8 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively. For more information, link to Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program: 2014 Report. (5-30-14)

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League of American Bicyclists Releases Every Bicyclist Counts Report

The League of American Bicyclists has issued its Every Bicyclist Counts report, which tracks and documents every fatal bicycle accident. Developed after a deadly string of bicycling accidents in the Tampa, Fla. area, the report records bicycle-related traffic fatalities over a 12-month period. The report also serves as an additional national-level data resource on bicycling accidents. For more information, link to the report. (5-21-14)

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Census Bureau Report Shows 60 Percent Growth in Bicycle Commuting

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a report showing that the number of individuals choosing to bicycle to work has increased by approximately 60 percent over the past decade. For the 2008-2012 period, about 786,000 people bicycled to work, compared to 488,000 in 2000, the report found. According to the report, no other commuting mode experienced larger growth. For more information, link to the report. (5-8-14)

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TRB Releases Report to Promote Transit Use among People with Disabilities

The Transportation Research Board has published a Transit Cooperative Research Program report with strategies to enable and promote the use of fixed-route transit by people with disabilities. The report offers information and strategies to public transit providers seeking to improve fixed-route bus and rail transit services for persons with disabilities. The report will aide transit agencies implement goals established by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. For more information, link to the report. (4-30-14)

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Alliance for Biking and Walking Releases 2014 Benchmarking Report

The Alliance for Biking and Walking has released its 2014 Benchmarking Report. The report updates active transportation data and identifies bicycle and walking best practices. Data included in the report show gradual increases in the number of bicycle and walking trips in the U.S. The report also includes information about the health, safety, and economic benefits of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as information related to effective policies and funding sources, the benefits of connecting to transit, and education and encouragement efforts. For more information, link to the report. (4-24-14)

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Bicycle Friendly America's 2013 Edition Published by League of American Bicyclists

The League of American Bicyclists has published the 2013 edition of Bicycle Friendly America. Included in its American Bicyclist magazine, Bicycle Friendly America highlights how hundreds of entities across the country have incorporated league work into their efforts to improve bicycling. The publication also includes individual bicycling ranks for cities and other features, such as a section that provides actionable tips for improving bicycling. For more information, link to American Bicyclist, March – April 2014. (4-1-14)

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Research Circular Describes Methods to Monitor Bicycling, Walking Modes

A research circular on monitoring bicycling and walking – also known as “active transportation” – has been issued by the Transportation Research Board. The circular, titled Monitoring Bicyclist and Pedestrian Travel and Behavior: Current Research and Practice, describes a selection of recent advancements in bicycle and pedestrian data monitoring pertaining to both traffic volumes and behavioral data and introduces a selection of ongoing projects expected to contribute to the field. For more information, link to the report. (3-19-14)

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FHWA Safety Program Publishes Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Guide

FHWA’s Safety Program has published a guide about the recommended uses of pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHB). PHBs are only activated when pedestrians are present. According to the guide, “PHBs are useful in locations where traditional crosswalk signings and markings do not result in adequate motorist yielding rates, and where the deployment or cost of a full traffic signal would not be warranted.” The beacons also protect pedestrians at mid-block crossings or uncontrolled mainline crossing points. The guide discusses PHB’s ability to reduce pedestrian crashes and PHB implementation policies. In addition, the guide includes a case study examining a PHB’s role in improving a problematic roadway. For more information, link to the guide. (3-17-14)

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Report Touts Benefits and Uses of Federal Recreational Trails Program

FHWA has released a report describing the benefits of the Federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and how the program is used across the country. Since its inception 20 years ago, RTP has led the creation and improvement of over 17,000 trail-related projects throughout the U.S. According to the report, RTP-funded projects have benefited local economies, increased youth employment, enhanced accessibility, fostered safe and livable communities, improved overall health and fitness, encouraged active transportation, and conserved habitats. For more information, link to the 2013 Recreational Trails Program Annual Report. (3-11-14)

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Transportation Research Record Includes 17 Papers on Bicycle Transportation and Infrastructure

The Transportation Research Board has published an edition of its Transportation Research Record consisting of 17 papers studying various aspects of bicycle transportation and related infrastructure. The publication examines specially designed traffic signals for bicycles, automated data collection of bicyclists, bicycles’ role in reducing Dutch poverty levels, education materials, and forecasting bikesharing ridership at individual stations. In addition, the publication also explores cyclists-commuter travel behavior, North American public bikesharing programs, and several topics related to Washington D.C.’s biksharing program, among other topics. For more information, link to Transportation Research Record – Bicycles 2013: Planning, Design, Operations, and Infrastructure. (2-27-14)

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Report Finds Bicycle Use Extends the Service Area of Transit

The Mineta Transportation Institute has issued a report on a study to describe the effects of transit use by people who ride a bicycle to and from buses, trains and ferries. The report says that these cycle-transit users increase the geographic area that a mode of transit can serve, also known as the “catchment area.” The report also says that a cycle-transit catchment area is more complex than the area for those who approach transit on foot, since cycle-transit users often combine two or more travel purposes in each trip, such as commuting and shopping. Study participants stated that there is much still to do to provide bicycle enhancements at transit facilities. For more information, link to Perceptions of Bicycle-Friendly Policy Impacts on Accessibility to Transit Services: The First and Last Mile Bridge. (1-22-14)

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Summary Outlines FHWA Bicycle and Pedestrian Research and Activities

FHWA has released a summary of its bicycle and pedestrian program activities and research. The summary provides an update on federal-aid funds for the pedestrian and bicycle projects and program for fiscal year 2013; pedestrian and bicycle research and technical assistance programs; ongoing safety projects and those under development; and safe route to school activities. The summary also includes links to several FHWA websites and updates and to relevant contact information. For more information, link to Summary of Federal Highway Administration Pedestrian and Bicycle Research and Program Activities. (1-13-14)

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Institute Publishes Bike Share Planning Guide

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has released a bike sharing planning guide. Divided into sections corresponding to the various phases of planning and implementing a city bike sharing program, the guide assists practitioners with conducting feasibility studies and designing bike plan specifics. An overview of different bike sharing business and financing models is also provided, as is information related to implementing a bike sharing system. For more information, link to The Bike-Share Planning Guide. (12-5-13)

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FHWA Guide Details Pedestrian Facility Maintenance Options to Enhance Safety and Mobility

The Office of Safety at FHWA has released a guide describing methods to maintain pedestrian facilities to increase mobility and safety. Several issues are addressed in the guide, including information related to the need to maintain pedestrian facilities, typical issues encountered when maintaining pedestrian facilities and inspections and accessibility. The guide also describes measures to maintain pedestrian facilities, maintenance funding options and construction measures that can reduce the need for future repairs. For more information, link to A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety. (11-25-13)

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Costs of Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure Documented in Report

The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center has issued a report, funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration, that documents cost information for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. It includes information on bicycle facilities (such as bicycle parking and bikeways); traffic calming measures; pedestrian accommodations (such as fences and gateways, lighting, sidewalks, and paths); signals for drivers, bicycles, and pedestrians; signage; and pavement markings. The project compiled bid-letting summaries and price indices from state departments of transportation websites into a database and calculated average cost, median cost, and high and low ends of the cost range. For more information, link to Costs for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Infrastructure Improvements. (October 2013)

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FHWA Issues Memo Supporting Flexible Approaches to Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities

FHWA has released a memorandum detailing the agency’s support for flexible approaches to bicycle and pedestrian facility design. The memorandum includes links to resources from AASHTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials and the Institute of Transportation Engineers to assist practitioners planning, designing and operating bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Memorandum attachments offer information on the Michigan Department of Transportation’s buffered bike lanes and the City of Missoula’s colored bike lanes and provide contact information for FHWA bicycle and pedestrian staff. For more information, link to Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility Design Flexibility Memorandum. (8-20-13)

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FHWA Posts Recordings of TAP Webinars

Recordings of two webinars covering the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act have been posted online by FHWA. An Aug. 28, 2013, webinar reviewed the final TAP guidance issued by the agency and also allowed participants to ask questions about the program. A second webinar, held on Aug. 29, 2013, offered outreach tips and a discussion on program performance information. For more information and recordings of other webinars, link to MAP-21 Webinars. (8-29-13)

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