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Questions & Answers about Design Flexibility for Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities

Last Updated: July 25, 2014

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Offices of Planning, Environment, and Realty; Infrastructure; Safety; and Operations jointly developed the following Qs & As as a follow-up to FHWA's Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility Design Flexibility memorandum published on August 20, 2013. The questions and answers are intended to clarify issues regarding design flexibility. FHWA does not intend to release separate design flexibility memoranda addressing individual guides or applications of flexibility. The August 20, 2013 memorandum reflects our support for flexibility in the design of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in order to encourage the development of connected and context-sensitive pedestrian and bicycle networks.

Questions about individual guides or applications and their relationship to the concept of design flexibility will be addressed as Qs & As in collaboration between FHWA's Offices of Planning, Environment, and Realty; Infrastructure; Safety; and Operations. The Qs & As will be updated on an as needed basis.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Street Design Guide

  1. What is FHWA's perspective on NACTO's Urban Street Design Guide?
    NACTO's Urban Street Design Guide provides sample scenarios that build on the flexibilities in the AASHTO Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities and Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities. The Urban Street Design Guide can be used to inform the planning and design process in conjunction with these other resources. FHWA distributed copies of the Urban Street Design Guide to all of our Division and Federal Lands Highway Offices in fall 2013. It can serve as an additional resource as communities plan and design facilities for all modes of travel. FHWA supports the use of the Urban Street Design Guide in conjunction with the other resources cited above in the process of developing nonmotorized transportation networks.

  2. Was the Urban Street Design Guide referenced in the August 20, 2013 design flexibility memorandum?
    No. The Urban Street Design Guide was not referenced because it had not yet been published.

  3. Does the Urban Street Design Guide supersede other existing national standards or guidelines?
    No. The Urban Street Design Guide can serve as one of many sources to inform the planning and design process, but it does not supersede other existing national standards or guidelines. The Urban Street Design Guide can be used in conjunction with other design resources; however, there are many design details not addressed by this Guide and it is not fully consistent with other guidance. For example, in the area of accessible design, the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards and the Public Rights-Of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) are the primary source of design and construction details to ensure compliance with the ADA. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) is the national standard for traffic control devices to promote highway safety and efficiency on the Nation's streets and highways as required by Federal regulation.

  4. Will FHWA revise the Qs & As as the Urban Street Design Guide is updated?
    Yes, the Qs & As will be revised, as needed.

Updated: 07/25/2014
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