The American Association of State Highway Transportation officials (AASHTO) sent a letter to the DOT asking that they weaken their guidance for accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians on all new construction and reconstruction of transportation facilities. This is a poor recommendation…and it should be changed….
For those of you who feel that it is important for cyclists and pedestrians to have safe access to our streets and highways…the current DOT guidance gives you a strong lever.
Specifically the federal DOT guidance says:
“Due consideration” of bicycle and pedestrian needs should include, at a minimum, a presumption that bicyclists and pedestrians will be accommodated in the design of new and improved transportation facilities. In the planning,design, and operation of transportation facilities, bicyclists and pedestrians should be included as a matter of routine, and the decision to not accommodatethem should be the exception rather than the rule. There must be exceptional circumstances for denying bicycle and pedestrian access either by prohibition orby designing highways that are incompatible with safe, convenient walking and bicycling.
What AASHTO is recommending is that this guidance…as to what “Due Consideration means, should be eliminated. According to AASHTO “This regulation presents an undue burden on states to justify exceptional circumstances when not including provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians in a project
How has this guidance been used
For those of you who have followed our efforts to ensure that a separated bike and pedestrian facility is included on the new billion dollar bridge connecting downtown Long Beach with the Port of Long Beach, you will know that the federal guidance for including bike and pedestrian facilities was an important part of our argument. It is our feeling that one of the reasons the port and CalTrans agreed to add these facilities is because of the strong wording of the federal guidelines regarding including bike and ped facilities in federally funded projects.
Significant progress…don’t let them backslide now…
As The League of American Bicyclists stated in a letter to their members
This request is misguided. At a time when cities are building entire bicycling networks for the cost of one mile of urban four-lane freeway, bike projects are putting people to work, and benefiting business, this is not the time to move backwards. When more and more states – 23 and counting – are embracing Complete Streets policies, AASHTO should be a leading voice in shaping holistic and comprehensive transportation systems, not resisting them.
The League of American Bicyclists has requested that each of us contact our state department of transportation and they have provided both a draft e-mail as well as the e-mail address for the relevant person in your state.