This interim report to Congress summarizes the progress and initial results of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) and the four pilot communities' participation in the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) from its inception through May 2007. Section 1807 of the Safe, Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), P.L. 109-59, established the NTPP in August 2005. Over the span of 4 years, the legislation provides $25 million in contract authority for each of the NTPP's four pilot communities (Columbia, Missouri; Marin County, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sheboygan County, Wisconsin) "to construct ... a network of nonmotorized transportation infrastructure facilities, including sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle trails, that connect directly with transit stations, schools, residences, businesses, recreation areas, and other community activity centers."
The purpose of the NTPP as stated in Section 1807 is "to demonstrate the extent to which bicycling and walking can carry a significant part of the transportation load, and represent a major portion of the transportation solution, within selected communities." The legislation also calls for the Secretary of Transportation to "develop statistical information on changes in motor vehicle, nonmotorized transportation, and public transportation usage in communities participating in the program and assess how such changes decrease congestion and energy usage, increase the frequency of bicycling and walking, and promote better health and a cleaner environment." Finally, the legislation calls for two reports to be submitted to Congress: an interim report by September 30, 2007, and a final report by September 30, 2010. This document is the Interim Report.
To respond to this requirement, FHWA and the pilot communities created a Working Group composed of representatives from the implementing agencies in each of the communities, FHWA, the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Working Group holds biweekly teleconferences and annual face-to-face meetings to discuss progress and challenges and coordinate efforts across the pilot communities. The Working Group also created an Evaluation Subgroup to address data collection and analysis issues.
Working Group members from each community provide technical support, manage NTPP funds, and guide implementation of projects in each pilot. Within each community, staff members and advisory groups have been working together to update planning documents, develop and apply project selection criteria, and build a framework for carrying out infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects.
The Working Group has developed a program evaluation plan to outline the steps necessary to fulfill the requirements of the legislation. The evaluation plan lays out four phases of work to respond to the requirements of the legislation:
Phase 1 -- Develop a baseline community-wide travel behavior survey and execute it in each community prior to project implementation. The pilot communities selected the University of Minnesota as the research team to conduct this work, and selected Spokane, Washington as the control community. The survey was executed in fall 2006, the related analysis was completed in March 2007, and the results are summarized in this report.
University of Minnesota as the research team to conduct this work, and selected Spokane, Washington as the control community. The survey was executed in fall 2006, the related analysis was completed in March 2007, and the results are summarized in this report.
Table 0.1 shows the mode split for each mode in each community. Non-auto mode share (that is, the use of modes other than automobile, including walking, bicycling, and transit) ranges from 8.5% in Sheboygan County to 29.3% in Minneapolis. The research team estimates that current levels of nonmotorized transportation in all four communities reduce vehicle-miles traveled by approximately 156.1 million miles over the course of an entire year.1
|Community||Vehicle %||Rideshare %||Walk %||Bicycle %||Transit %|
|Avg. for Pilots2||82||2.1||11.2||1.5||4.1|
Phase 2 -- Collect "before" and "after" data for at least five specific projects within each community. The goals are to collect information on the infrastructure projects and educational programs the four communities will undertake and to conduct a detailed analysis of a limited number of significant and innovative projects to identify increases in bicycling and walking, along with related safety, environmental, and health benefits. This work is underway based on a common framework developed by the FHWA and the Volpe Center, with input from the Working Group, to guide data collection in each community.
Phase 3 -- Apply the same community-wide travel behavior survey implemented in
Phase 1. The University of Minnesota will perform this work in fall 2010 to capture travel changes after projects are implemented.
Phase 4 -- Synthesize and analyze the data collected and develop results. The Working Group developed this interim report and will provide the final report to Congress in 2010.
In addition to describing these phases of work, the evaluation plan identifies the following themes for pilot communities to consider when implementing projects and evaluating results to complement the topics articulated in the legislation: improving safe access; improving public health through physical activity; working with land use policy and transportation planning processes; leveraging resources; improving connections to other transportation modes as part of an overall transportation system, with an emphasis on links to public transit; and raising public awareness.
In addition to describing the Working Group, the evaluation plan, and the results of Phase 1 in more detail, this report compares the characteristics of the pilot communities and the control community (Spokane, Washington3), describes the Communications Plan developed by the RTC to disseminate information about the NTPP, and discusses the NTPP's challenges and plans.
Ultimately FHWA wants to ensure that the best data and information are available to complete a thorough analysis and provide meaningful results to meet the purpose of the NTPP. FHWA will continue to work with the pilot communities and the Working Group to implement the NTPP and refine the evaluation plan. FHWA will report to Congress on the preliminary final results of the NTPP by the September 30, 2010 deadline, followed by a report with the final results at a later date. When submitting the 2010 report, FHWA will advise Congress of plans to collect the final "after" data, complete the final evaluation of the NTPP, and report the results to Congress.
The NTPP offers the opportunity to learn more about the extent to which a suite of coordinated, integrated infrastructure projects and educational or promotional programs can yield shifts in travel behaviors and use of different modes of transportation. In particular, the NTPP is intended to assist pilot communities in identifying and funding those types of infrastructure projects and educational programs that result in significant increases in the amount of bicycling and walking, along with related safety, environmental, and health benefits.
Knowledge about successful projects and programs, as well as information on those that are not as successful, will be invaluable to other communities implementing programs designed to increase bicycling and walking and improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. Any changes to the transportation systems in our Nation's communities must take into account their effects on all users of the system.