Investing in Walking and Bicycling Infrastructure

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently released the results from their pilot project which increased investments in non-motorized transportation. From 2007 to 2010, the FHWA provided funding to four pilot communities within the U.S. in order to evaluate the effectiveness of investing Federal funds in non-motorized transportation. Each community was to focus its resources on increasing walking and bicycling and then examine the impacts over this four year period.

Pilot Community Funding

This funding came from U.S. Congress which established the Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) in August 2005, as Section 1807 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). These communities received more than $25 million annually in contract authority, approximately $6.25 million to each of the following communities:

  • Columbia, MO
  • Marin County, CA
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Sheboygan County, WI

These pilot communities represented a diverse cross section of U.S. cities in regards to population size, demographics, location, physical characteristics, climate, and varying needs for non-motorized transportation.

Investing in Walking and Bicycling

Each community implemented locally devised strategies to increase the use of non-motorized transportation and documented all the safety, environmental, and health benefits. Some of these initiatives and efforts were:

  • Creating a strategy and plan for cycling and walking
  • Taking a systematic approach to facility investments, including filling gaps in the network
  • Undertaking experimental treatments, such as advisory bike lanes, that advance the state of the practice
  • Developing standards for data collection and improving performance measures
  • Conducting targeted outreach to emphasize social equity in access to non-motorized travel
  • Carrying out educational and marketing campaigns
  • Building signature regional projects, such as a bicycle tunnel, that were possible only because of the additional funding for non-motorized transportation
  • Expanding access to public transportation and key community destinations

 

Goals and Results

During the four year period, it was estimated that cycling as a mode share of transportation increased 36% across all four communities, while walking increased 14%, and driving decreased 3%.

Estimated Change and Percent Change in Mode Share, 2007-2010. Source: FHWA

 

GetAbout Columbia – Columbia, MO

The initiative in Columbia was called GetAbout Columbia and focused on creating a cultural change in the perceptions and attitudes towards walking and cycling. It also worked to promote and improve the non-motorized infrastructure.

GetAbout Columbia’s Goals and Results:

  • Created on-street infrastructure including bicycle lanes and boulevards. These were typically on residential streets where pedestrians and bicyclists are given priority over motorists by discouraging through traffic by motor vehicles
  • Off street projects including pedways (extra-wide sidewalks), providing strategic linkages between key community facilities to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Results include creating more transportation options, health benefits, transportation equity and large benefits to university students and those without access to vehicles

 

WalkBikeMarin – Marin County, CA

Marin County adopted WalkBikeMarin to focus on filling key infrastructure gaps in walking and cycling as modes of non-motorized transportation.

With the NTPP funding, Marin County was able to undertake more expensive initiatives that had a big impact on increasing walking and bicycling – initiatives that were not possible in the past.

WalkBikeMarin’s Goals and Results:

  • Filled in gaps of the existing non-motorized network
  • Created and expanded connections to transit to accommodate bicyclists and walkers with long commutes
  • Incorporated appropriate bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure into all new construction, and retrofitting existing facilities
  • Executed off street projects, such as the Cal Park Hill Tunnel, which provided strategic linkages to schools, ferries, and commercial areas
  • Results include offering direct and more convenient routes for pedestrians and bicyclists, increasing safety and providing a reliable, time-saving alternative that connects directly with transit hubs

 

Bike Walk Twin Cities – Minneapolis, MN

Bike Walk Twin Cities in Minneapolis already had an existing trail system and therefore, focused on onstreet connections to complete their non-motorized network.

In order to maximize efforts, they used a non-profit organization to provide input and establish priorities. Since Minneapolis has a diverse community, the city decided to focus on specific populations such as low-income residents and increase their non-motorized transportation options.

Bike Walk Twin Cities’ Goals and Results:

  • Created and committed to a safe and highly functioning network for walkers and bicyclists with 21 projects such as bicycle boulevards and restriping to include bicycle lanes
  • Addressed cultural and economic gaps, and improved access to and within underserved communities and corridors
  • Results include creating high community engagement and proactive approach from businesses and commercial areas which now include bike/walk features as well as  an increased walking and cycling culture which is continuously growing

 

NOMO (Non-Motorized) Sheboygan – Sheboygan County

Sheboygan County already had a strong culture of recreational bicycling but was lacking in the appropriate infrastructure for commuters. They wanted to focus on creating a plan to invest in a countywide pedestrian and bicycle program and improving the non-motorized network.

NOMO’s Goals and Results:

  • Executed on investments that focused on filling gaps, building the non-motorized network, and encouraging public support and awareness through broad educational campaigns
  • Developed a comprehensive network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities that were easier to implement
  • Results include providing healthier transportation options for residents and visitors as well as creating a more comprehensive transportation network

 

These 2-hour counts for bicyclists and pedestrians at more than 50 locations in the four pilot communities show increases in these transportation modes from 2007 to 2010. 

Collecting Pedestrian and Bicycle Counts

Miovision’s Scout Video Collection Unit collects traffic data for various traffic studies, including pedestrian and bicycle counts. Collecting this data will show the usage of various trails, streets and bike paths within a given location and can be collected annually for growth analysis.

Many communities are increasing their non-motorized transportation networks and collecting this data will show the growth over time.

Recently, the Region of Waterloo utilized Miovision to count the number of pedestrians and cyclists using the Iron Horse Trail in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Data was collected for one week during the Commuter Challenge, and reported to the public through the #BCounted Initiative. This initiative’s goal was to raise awareness and show The Region that commuting using alternative transportation is part of many individuals’ routines.

Check out our previous blog article for the #BCounted Commuter Challenge.