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Report to the U.S. Congress on the Outcomes of the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program SAFETEA-LU Section 1807

Executive Summary

Introduction

Section 1807 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) P.L. 109-59 established the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) in August 2005.[1] Over the span of 4 years, the NTPP provided roughly $25 million annually in contract authority allocated equally among 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." From its inception, the NTPP was designed as a demonstration program to gather statistical information on transportation mode share shifts before and after the implementation of nonmotorized transportation infrastructure and educational or promotional programs. The program was intended 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."

Throughout the program to date, the four communities, each with unique physical and demographic characteristics, identified and implemented a locally devised strategy to significantly increase the use of nonmotorized transportation, along with the accompanying safety, environmental, and health benefits. This report represents the culmination of that initial implementation and analytical effort.

Key outcomes of the NTPP described in this report include:

Table 1: Pilot Communities

Pilot Community Population Project Name Key Community Characteristics
Columbia, Missouri 108,500 Getabout Columbia
  • College town; large institutional employers (university, medical, and insurance)
Marin County, California 252,409 WalkBikeMarin
  • Topography is a major challenge with smaller towns situated in valleys separated by steep ridges, limited connecting roadways
  • Pilot target area focused on eastern, urbanized corridor, including 11 cities and towns
Minneapolis, Minnesota 382,578 Bike Walk Twin Cities
  • Largest and most diverse population of the pilot communities and most densely developed
  • Relatively flat, extreme winter weather
  • Pilot area includes primary city and portions of adjacent municipalities
Sheboygan County, Wisconsin 115,507 NOMO
  • Largest land area of the pilot communities
  • Limited prior experience with nonmotorized transportation
  • 15 townships, 10 villages, 3 cities
  • Manufacturing remains a significant employment sector

Program Investments

Figure 1: Percent Funding by Project Type

Pie chart showing the percent of funding by project type. Infrastructure off-street 39.1 percent; infrastructure on-street 40.3 percent; Infrastructure on- and off-street 9.8 percent; outreach, education, and marketing 7.9 percent; planning 0.8 percent; and bike parking 2.1 percent.

The NTPP funding provided an opportunity for pilot communities to make significant investments in walking and bicycling infrastructure and education.

As shown in Figure 1, program-wide, the vast majority of total program funds (89.2 percent) have been spent on infrastructure, with the next highest share (7.9 percent) spent on outreach, education, and marketing programs. The remaining funds have been spent on bicycle parking (2.1 percent) and planning (0.8 percent). In addition to funding infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects, the communities set aside funds for evaluation, communications support, and program administration. Combined, the four communities spent approximately $1.6 million on evaluation, $2.1 million on communications support, and $6 million on program administration. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also contributed approximately $360,000 of its own research funds to support NTPP evaluation.

Table 2 shows the extent of planned and completed infrastructure projects funded through the program. In addition to infrastructure projects, strategic and innovative outreach and educational programming have reached thousands of residents, providing information and skills to help increase walking and bicycling activity. These efforts were instrumental in helping to institutionalize nonmotorized transportation projects in each pilot community and continue the cultural shift in travel behavior.

Table 2: Planned and Completed Capital Projects in all NTPP Communities

Project Type Miles/Spaces
(funded)
Miles/Spaces
(complete)*
% Complete*
On-road facilities 333 214 64%
Off-road facilities 23 7 31%
Bicycle parking 5,727 5,461 95%

* as of August 2011

Each community had a unique approach to program implementation and project selection, depending on existing facilities, plans, and identified needs. While all of the communities invested heavily in infrastructure, areas with fewer existing facilities focused primarily on laying foundations for comprehensive nonmotorized transportation networks, including through planning, while in other settings, more complicated gap-filling projects were most appropriate.

Evaluation Results

To respond to the legislation, the FHWA and the pilot communities created a Working Group (WG) composed of representatives from the administrating agencies in each of the communities, FHWA, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The WG first met in the fall of 2005 and has held regular teleconferences and annual meetings to discuss progress and challenges and coordinate efforts across the pilot communities. The WG developed and implemented both project-level and community-wide evaluation approaches to assess the travel behavior impacts of the nonmotorized investments. These two concurrent evaluation efforts were as follows:

This approach relied on directly collected data and supplementary local and national data sources. In coordination with consultants and academic experts, the WG's Evaluation Subgroup guided the data collection effort and helped resolve technical issues as they arose.

For project-level evaluation, each community selected a small subset of projects to receive more in-depth evaluation. For infrastructure projects, counts revealed substantial increases and continual growth in nonmotorized travel activities in each of the studied corridors and intersections. Projects implemented towards the beginning of the program show annual and absolute increases in users over multiple years. In addition to increased nonmotorized travel, anecdotal project-level studies revealed slower driving speeds and safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists. Non-infrastructure projects resulted in training and outreach for thousands of participants; improving the awareness of nonmotorized issues and directly benefiting a variety of community members and professionals in each of the pilots.

For community-wide evaluation, bookend counts following the National Pedestrian and Bicycle Documentation Project methodology, showed walking and bicycling increased in each of the communities between 2007 and 2010. These counts point to an increase of 22 percent for walking and 49 percent for bicycling across the count locations. Furthermore, utilizing survey data, the WG found that for most of the communities increased bicycling and walking trips were primarily attributable to utilitarian trips in 2010 compared to 2007,[3] though recreational and exercise activity increased as well.

The WG developed two models, the NTPP and Intercept Survey models, to determine the impacts of the NTPP regarding energy, the environment, and health in terms of trips and vehicle miles averted. These models conservatively estimate that between 2007 and 2010, people walked or bicycled between 32.3 and 37.8 million more miles in the pilot communities than they would have without the NTPP (controlling for population growth). Assuming a one-to-one trade-off between vehicle trips and nonmotorized trips, the WG used the Intercept Survey model to estimate that between 2007 and 2010, 1.67 million gallons of gasoline were conserved and over 30.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions averted as a result of the NTPP. Substantial reductions/savings in other criteria air pollutants that contribute to health problems were also noted.

Lessons Learned

Through the course of the pilot program, FHWA and the four communities have learned many lessons about nonmotorized transportation planning, implementation, and evaluation. Several lessons are listed below, with greater detail provided in the text of the report.

Pilot Program Design

Program Planning and Implementation

Building Capacity

Stakeholders and Partnerships

Research and Evaluation

Continuing the Progress

Programs like NTPP reflect the ability of nonmotorized investments to transform communities, improving quality of life, by expanding safe and healthy travel options. The findings from NTPP demonstrate the importance of nonmotorized transportation and how these transportation modes can enrich communities. In March 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations which stressed the importance of building safe and convenient multimodal transportation systems. The findings from the NTPP affirm the words of the Policy Statement:

Increased commitment to and investment in bicycle facilities and walking networks can help meet goals for cleaner, healthier air; less congested roadways; and more livable, safe, cost-efficient communities. Walking and bicycling provide low-cost mobility options that place fewer demands on local roads and highways. DOT recognizes that safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities may look different depending on the context - appropriate facilities in a rural community may be different from a dense, urban area. However, regardless of regional, climate, and population density differences, it is important that pedestrian and bicycle facilities be integrated into transportation systems. While DOT leads the effort to provide safe and convenient accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists, success will ultimately depend on transportation agencies across the country embracing and implementing this policy.

1. Program Introduction

This 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 August 2011. 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 provided approximately $25 million[4] 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 and a final report. The Interim Report was submitted on January 9, 2008.[5] This is the Final Report.

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 goal of NTPP is to identify and fund the types of infrastructure projects and educational programs that demonstrate significant increases in the amount of bicycling and walking, along with related safety, environmental, and health benefits.

Program Management

To respond to the legislation, the FHWA and the pilot communities created a Working Group (WG) composed of representatives from the administrating agencies in each of the communities, FHWA, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The WG first met in the fall of 2005 and has held regular teleconferences and annual meetings to discuss progress and challenges and coordinate efforts across the pilot communities. The WG also created an Evaluation Subgroup to resolve technical issues and implement a common methodology for data collection and analysis.

WG Annual Meetings have addressed issues such as:

  1. Development of a structure to work together collectively as a program, not as individual projects.
  2. Challenges of measuring and documenting mode shift and best practices in data collection.
  3. Small scale/low impact project implementation challenges.
  4. Challenges and best practices for design and implementation of innovative facilities and programs.
  5. Optimal management of and synergies between investments in infrastructure and marketing/ promotion/education.
  6. Telling the story of the program and its outcomes.

While the original legislation called for a report at the end of the pilot detailing findings, it did not provide dedicated funding or specific language regarding evaluation, or consideration for the absence of consistent data related to nonmotorized travel behavior at the community level. The key successes of the WG have been to develop a collaborative approach to data collection and evaluation, to maintain a coordinated national program, to establish consistent and credible reporting of results, and to share the progress of the Pilot Program to multiple audiences throughout the years of its existence. Implementation of this approach was funded directly from the pilot project budgets.

In addition to developing infrastructure and programs locally, the communities have contributed to the national field of nonmotorized transportation through experimenting with innovative designs, outreach, education, and data collection and evaluation methods that can be applied by peer communities nationwide. The communities and the WG partners have enhanced local expertise in bike/walk design at all levels and exchanged lessons learned with peers through presentations and panels at national conferences, a website, fact sheets, and other reports.

Report to Congress

The purpose of this report is to provide Congress with an update on NTPP implementation and evaluation, insights into successes and challenges of the program, and steps forward.

The report is organized into the following chapters:

  1. Program Introduction summarizes program management;
  2. Introduction to the Pilot Communities: overview of characteristics of each community;
  3. Program Investments and Implementation Approach: summarizes types of investments made by each community;
  4. Evaluation and Results: describes the data collection and evaluation methodology;
    • 4.1 Project Level Evaluation and Results: evaluation of the results of specific projects in each community;
    • 4.2 Community-Wide Evaluation Methods and Results: presents travel behavior changes in each community and for the overall program;
  5. Other Benefits: summarizes program results related to key program goals;
  6. Insights and Lessons Learned: observations provided by program participants for peers; and
  7. Continuing the Progress: insights on the accomplishments of NTPP in each community and how to expand them to the national context.

2. Introduction to the Pilot Communities

This section introduces the pilot communities and provides background information to set the context in which they have approached the program. Each community is unique in physical geography and demographic characteristics, as well as development of systems and policies related to nonmotorized transportation. Additional demographic information is provided in Appendix 2. Because of the various starting points and ranging needs, each community approached program implementation from a local context, resulting in different implementation strategies and program emphases. The diversity of types of communities allowed for a true national demonstration project, testing the impacts of investments in different places at different stages of nonmotorized system development. The program provides opportunities for comparison and models for how to approach nonmotorized transportation in different types of communities around the country.

Columbia, MO

Columbia is the fifth-largest city in Missouri, and the largest city in mid-Missouri. The city serves as the county seat of Boone County and as the location of the University of Missouri. Columbia's preexisting network of trails, well-organized bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group, dense downtown, and university setting were among the factors that made the city a good candidate for innovative nonmotorized infrastructure and educational activities.

Columbia Quick Facts:

Project Name: GetAbout Columbia
Population (2010): 108,500
Geographic Area: 53 square miles
Population Density: 2,047 persons per square mile
Sidewalks (2005): 350 miles
Bicycle Lanes (2005): 28 miles
Shared-Use Paths (2005): 25 miles
Avg October Temp (max): 67.50 F
Avg October Temp (min): 45.50 F
Avg October Rainfall: 3.1 inches

Key Community Characteristics:

  • Long history of commitment to nonmotorized transportation
  • College town; large institutional employers (university, medical, and insurance)

Prior to the start of the program, Columbia had been involved with several efforts to increase nonmotorized transportation. In the 1980s, Columbia led the effort to construct the Katy Trail, one of the Nation's longest rail-trail conversions at over 200 miles in length. In 2004, Columbia was the first city in Missouri to pass a "Complete Streets" policy, focusing on connectivity and requiring that new and redesigned facilities include pedestrian and bicycle accommodation. The Sidewalk Master Plan, last updated in 2006, identified critical connectivity needs; the city allocates a portion of its own funds each year to retrofit areas that do not include nonmotorized facilities. The city and nonprofit partners had also developed a Trails Plan and a Bikeways Plan, which identified priorities, though there was limited funding available for implementation. In 2003, Columbia's PedNet was selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation "Active Living by Design" grantee, developing a nationally distinguished program focused on increasing walking and bicycling to school. The existing plans and commitment from city officials provided a strong foundation for establishment of a focused nonmotorized transportation program.

GetAbout Columbia[6]

Columbia's pilot program, called GetAbout Columbia, is administered by the city's Department of Public Works (DPW), which capitalizes on local engineering expertise to actively identify new approaches to roadway design. GetAbout Columbia has placed an emphasis on relatively small-scale construction projects, complemented by promotion and education.

Columbia Pilot Key Highlights

  • Bicycling and walking counts showed 26.2 percent and 13.8 percent increases, respectively, between 2007 and 2010.
  • Experiments with innovative design, including various types of roadway facilities, designs, and signage to better serve bicyclists and pedestrians and improve safety for all users.
  • Emphasis on promotion and education, dedicating a large portion of its budget (as compared with other communities) to efforts that "get the word out" and educate residents about travel options.
  • Maximizing opportunities of university town setting, such as influencing travel behavior of young adults.
  • Partnerships with law enforcement to improve local awareness of bicycle rights and responsibilities, improving relationships and safety.
  • Partnerships with local businesses, leveraging additional funds and local support.

Program Partners and Advisory Committee

The DPW works closely with other city departments, commissions, and the independent bicycle and pedestrian advocacy PedNet Coalition. The program has also collaborated closely with the University of Missouri in a variety of ways, including: coordinating on facilities management, evaluation activities such as conducting counts and surveys, engineering studies and documentation of experimental designs, and internships for engineering students.

A citizen advisory board of approximately 30 members was appointed at the beginning of the program, to help identify projects and develop the implementation plan. The advisory board divided into three subcommittees: infrastructure, programming, and executive. The advisory board, the local bicycle and pedestrian commission and parks commission, and city staff, all worked together to plan for the program.

Strategic Approach

GetAbout Columbia used existing local sidewalk, bicycle, and trail plans as the basis for NTPP implementation, in order to identify linkages and opportunities to further develop an integrated system with a variety of pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Prior to allocating funds, GetAbout Columbia conducted initial engineering and design analysis on many of the larger capital projects, to help identify any potential obstacles and select the projects best suited to moving forward for final design and implementation. The implementation plan was formally approved by the City Council on July 22, 2008. It was intentionally over-programmed for $30 million in projects, though only $22 million in Federal funding was available. The approach was meant to maintain flexibility in the event of varying cost estimates or projects that are unable to move forward for any reason. It proved to be a good strategy, as there were additional projects already identified and vetted when others were not able to move forward.

Participation in NTPP has helped to institutionalize nonmotorized transportation planning and funding in Columbia, and ensure that these types of projects will continue even after the program officially ends. Most capital projects will be maintained by city departments, and the promotional and educational programs are expected to be incorporated into existing work areas as well. The city has also committed to using its own funds to continue the bicycle/pedestrian program manager position after the NTPP is completed, ensuring that the position is funded on a permanent basis. The DPW will continue to coordinate with the Transit Department to improve access, and with ongoing changes to roadway design standards to enhance the nonmotorized transportation options.

Marin County, CA

Marin County is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of the land within the county is rural; over 95 percent of the population is concentrated in the eastern, urban corridor of roughly 121 square miles. The urban corridor is the focus of the pilot program. With many miles of bicycle lanes, multiuse pathways, and signed routes, and a temperate climate, Marin County residents are able to bike or walk year-round.

Marin County completed its first Bicycle Master Plan in 1975. There is also a long history of recreational bicycling in the county, both on-road and mountain biking. More recently, there has been growing interest and support for improving walking and bicycling conditions to support more "utilitarian" trips such as going to the store, traveling to work or school, and running errands instead of driving. Several municipalities have adopted "Complete Streets" policies and have been constructing bicycle and pedestrian facilities as part of other projects and development proposals for many years.

Marin County was selected in 2000 as a national pilot community for Safe Routes to Schools, and a 2004 countywide sales tax measure dedicated funding to nonmotorized infrastructure and outreach programs. These initiatives all complement NTPP-related activities, providing additional energy and support for building out the county's bicycle and pedestrian network, including closing network gaps and creating key connections to transit hubs.

WalkBikeMarin[7]

Marin at a Glance:

Project Name: WalkBikeMarin
Population (2010): 252,409
Geographic Area: 520 square miles*
Population Density: 485 persons per square mile
Sidewalks (2005): not available
Bicycle Lanes (2005): 35.8 miles
Shared-Use Paths (2005): 33.7 miles
Avg October Temp. (max): 75.00 F
Avg October Temp. (min): 50.50 F
Avg October Rainfall: 1.7 inches

Key Community Characteristics:

  • Small towns separated by steep valley and ridges, limited connecting roadways
  • Long history of commitment to nonmotorized transportation

* the NTPP program has focused on a smaller portion of the county, the eastern urban corridor (121 sq miles)

Marin's pilot program, known as WalkBikeMarin, is administered by the Marin County DPW, under direction from the Board of Supervisors. WalkBikeMarin funds projects and programs throughout the urban corridor, which includes 11 incorporated municipalities and three transportation agencies. The NTPP funds and direct project management responsibility are transferred to the municipalities with projects in their jurisdictions.

Program Partners and Advisory Committee

A "cabinet," comprised of program management staff, County Supervisors, and local advocates, meets regularly to discuss project and program implementation. WalkBikeMarin also communicates regularly with local agency staff, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the FHWA California Division to discuss issues related to funding, finances, and project delivery.

WalkBikeMarin worked with local agency staff and community members, consulting local planning documents, Capital Improvement Programs, and other resources, to develop a list of potential projects and programs for NTPP funding. This process yielded over $220 million in suggested projects. To further refine the list, the Marin County Director of Public Works appointed a 19-member Citizen Advisory Committee to help categorize the projects and develop ranking and scoring criteria for each category. The committee was comprised of a broad spectrum of the community, including bicyclist, pedestrian, school, business, environmental, transit, health, disability, and local, regional, State, and Federal agency stakeholders. The meetings were open to the public and work products were posted on the project Web site. The scoring criteria focused on:

Marin County Pilot Key Highlights:

  • Bicycling and walking counts showed 68 percent and 23.7 percent increases, respectively, between 2007 and 2010.
  • Utilizing existing plans and built upon a history of community engagement, to allow WalkBikeMarin to move quickly in identifying projects and allocating funds.
  • Emphasis on connections to transit, including longer distance connections to commuter train and ferry services.; Strategic focus on closing key gaps in the regional nonmotorized network and including bicycle and pedestrian components in larger projects, which might not otherwise be built.
  • Successful partnerships and leveraging funds from other sources to expand the reach of the program and deliver a greater number of projects.
  • Building new intra-county partnerships, especially around common interests in supporting public health.

Strategic Approach

Based on the scoring and ranking process, the Marin County Board of Supervisors authorized $20 million in project and program funds on April 17, 2007. The WalkBikeMarin strategy was to allocate all available funds at the beginning of the program, allowing maximum time for infrastructure design and construction, and implementation of outreach programming. WalkBikeMarin was able to allocate all of the funding at once because it had the benefit of previous planning documents, a long list of projects already identified, and an advisory committee process to vet and rank the project list to recommend a funding package.

Allocating all of the funds at once and early in the program had several advantages: reducing the work to issue requests for and review applications, moving project selection more quickly, and limiting the demands on members of the advisory committee. WalkBikeMarin funded projects in multiple entities and jurisdictions, and it can take a long time to transfer funding to implementing agencies. Similarly, because the Federal funding process can be lengthy and complicated, grouping all of the projects at once required less overall paperwork and fewer Transportation Improvement Program amendments.

The original project selection schedule was based on the premise that projects would be open and ready to use by December 2009, to allow sufficient time for education and regular use before the 2010 data collection at the end of the pilot program. This schedule was to allow for extra time in the event that a project schedule slipped. Unforeseen challenges that arose during design delayed completion of some projects beyond this deadline.

Marin County municipalities and agencies have creatively and successfully leveraged a variety of other funding sources to support nonmotorized projects, utilizing Federal, State, regional, and local resources. These have been used to fully fund, or assemble a funding package for, projects ranging from small to very complex. Some complex projects, such as the Cal Park Tunnel and multiuse path, are large and required leveraging multiple funding sources in order to be built. Table 3 shows additional funding sources for Marin County.

Table 3: Additional Funding Sources for Marin County

Funding Program Source
Bicycle Transportation Account State of California
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Federal
Measure A Marin County ½ cent sales tax
Regional Measure 2 Improvements related to or near toll facilities
State Transportation Improvement Program State of California
Safe Routes to Schools Federal and State
Transportation Development Act State of California
Transportation Enhancements Federal

Implementation of the NTPP program has led to stronger relationships between the Marin County DPW and many local, regional, and State agencies, such as Caltrans, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (regional metropolitan transportation organization), Transportation Authority of Marin (county congestion management agency), County Department of Parks and Open Space, County Department of Health and Human Services, various municipal staffs and elected officials, Marin Transit, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District. Participation in the program and the relationships it has built have helped to institutionalize nonmotorized transportation planning and funding in Marin County, and ensure that project development will continue after the pilot program ends.

Minneapolis Area, MN

The Minneapolis area pilot is focused on the city of Minneapolis and also includes portions of 13 adjoining municipalities in three counties including the city of Saint Paul, Fridley, Columbia Heights, St. Anthony, Lauderdale, Falcon Heights, Roseville, Richfield, Edina, St. Louis Park, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, and Brooklyn Center. The focus in the adjoining communities is specifically on access to and from Minneapolis.

Over the past decade, the city of Minneapolis has made significant investments in bicycle and world-class trail infrastructure. The investments have typically been made on a project basis, rather than as part of a comprehensive plan for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Historically, in the Twin Cities region, travel by bicycling and walking has been viewed as a local issue. For this reason, there has been no regional bicycle or pedestrian master plan and Metropolitan Council policy did not allow for Federal transportation funds to be used for local bicycle and pedestrian planning purposes. The NTPP presented the challenge and opportunity of a broader vision and more cross-jurisdictional implementation.

Bike/Walk Twin Cities[8]

Minneapolis at a Glance:

Project Name: Bike/Walk Twin Cities
Population - City (2010): 382,578
Geographic Area: 58.4 square miles*
Population Density: 6,551 persons per square mile
Sidewalks (2005): 1,715 miles**
Bicycle Lanes (2005): 38 miles
Shared-Use Paths (2005): 57 miles
Avg October Temp (max): 58.60 F
Avg October Temp (min): 38.70 F
Avg October Rainfall: 1.9 inches

The NTPP program, identified locally as Bike/Walk Twin Cities (BWTC), is administered by Transit for Livable Communities (TLC) based in Saint Paul. Congress selected the nonprofit organization, active in transportation issues, to administer the Minneapolis area pilot. The TLC, founded in 1996 and governed by a 12-member board of directors, administers NTPP through a contract with the city of Minneapolis, which serves as the fiscal agent.

Program Partners and Advisory Committee

Key Community Characteristics:

  • Largest and most diverse population of the pilot communities and most densely developed
  • Relatively flat, extreme summer and winter weather
  • Pilot area includes primary city and portions of adjacent municipalities

* statistics are for city of Minneapolis only, though the grant area also includes portions of 13 adjacent municipalities
** sidewalks in linear miles; 92 percent of total centerline miles with sidewalks

In 2006, the TLC Board of Directors appointed an advisory committee, known as the Bike/Walk Advisory Committee (BWAC), to provide expertise and stakeholder input from relevant disciplines and interests. The BWAC advises the board about funding strategy and process for project selection, assists in reviewing project applications, and makes funding recommendations to the TLC Board. The BWAC conducts open meetings and has a diverse membership comprised of planners and engineers from city, county, regional, and State agencies; transit representatives; pedestrian and bicycle advocates; the health community; directors and managers of various public or non-profit programs; business leaders; and elected officials.

The BWTC works closely with the city of Minneapolis, other municipalities, and other agencies to implement infrastructure projects. Funded municipalities and jurisdictions conduct meetings for all site specific projects, to ensure the public is informed, involved, and supportive of the proposed action.

Local planning efforts completed during the program time period include bicycle and pedestrian plans, workshops and corridor studies funded by BWTC, and other studies, trainings, and workshops sponsored by Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Metropolitan Council, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and other agencies. The NTPP has changed how the region and the participating municipalities view nonmotorized transportation. With a strong grounding in bicycle and pedestrian planning, this work is institutionalized within departments of public works and planning. As a result, projects funded without NTPP funding now increasingly include best practices accommodations for walking and bicycling.

Strategic Approach

The TLC does not implement infrastructure projects. To move projects forward, BWTC developed several new processes to formalize advisory, solicitation, decision-making, and project selection activities. As an external party to implementing jurisdictions, BWTC's role is to work with municipal public works staff to see that funded projects are designed to meet the intention of awards and adhere to best practices and innovative designs. Most BWTC pilot funds were awarded competitively; the TLC board made direct awards in cases where scope or competitive capacity were very limited (e.g., Minneapolis bicycle parking was awarded directly to the city of Minneapolis).

Minneapolis Pilot Key Characteristics

  • Bicycling and walking counts showed 33 percent and 17 percent increases, respectively, between 2007 and 2010.
  • Building new capacity at all levels - grassroots, transportation professionals, businesses and elected officials. This work supports institutional and cultural change.
  • Partnering in a large-scale coordinated bicycle and pedestrian data collection; count results support holistic transportation decision making.
  • Funding strategic, innovative investments such as bicycle sharing, a bicycle library program, and RFID commuter tracking program, all complementing infrastructure.
  • Funding several multi-jurisdictional, community-wide and corridor scale planning studies, helping to identify future projects and continue momentum for the long-term.
  • Galvanizing grassroots community outreach via community-based marketing, awareness, and engagement, providing important resources to support nonmotorized transportation use throughout the community.

The TLC issued three major solicitations, requesting proposals for projects in the categories of planning, operations, infrastructure, bike/walk streets and livable streets, and innovative demonstrations. For each solicitation, the BWTC staff worked with the Bike/Walk Advisory Committee to research best practices, develop and refine project selection criteria and processes, rank projects, recommend projects to be funded, and promote public awareness of and support for NTPP. For each solicitation TLC also hired technical experts to assess design integrity of proposals and score the projects against the funding criteria. Using the recommendations of the Advisory Committee with input from technical scorers, the TLC Board made all funding decisions.

At the grassroots level, this program has empowered local residents to advocate for improved safety and accommodations for walking and bicycling. Through trainings open to local residents, community meetings about infrastructure project implementation, and the many media stories about the program, there is heightened awareness of the benefits of bicycling and walking and the options and strategies to make travel safer and more convenient.

Sheboygan County, WI

Sheboygan County, Wisconsin is located on the western shores of Lake Michigan. It has the largest land area of all of the pilot communities, and is comprised of 15 townships, 10 villages, and 3 cities. Sheboygan's metropolitan area is approximately 15 square miles, with approximately two-thirds of the county's population. Most other residents live in the other two cities. Several large companies are headquartered in Sheboygan County, employing thousands of residents. Most of the municipalities are built on a grid system, with more conventional suburban development at the urban fringe.

In the late 1970s, Sheboygan County began investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT), parallel to State Highway 23, is one of the first multiuse trails in the State of Wisconsin, and one of the first in the Nation constructed adjacent to a four-lane divided highway. The county constructed the trail in phases starting in the late 1970s, completing portions between the city of Sheboygan and Plymouth. More recently, the trail has been extended to the Village of Greenbush in the far western part of the county and will eventually be extended to the city of Fond du Lac as State Highway 23 is converted to four lanes in the neighboring county.

Inspired by the OPRT, other communities in the county began developing bicycle lanes in the years prior to the NTPP grant. These facilities were constructed largely in response to the presence of bicycles on area roadways and community desire for a designated space on the road. These and earlier efforts to address bicycle and pedestrian needs were limited and ad hoc rather than part of a coordinated approach, and often focused on recreation as opposed to utilitarian trips. These early facilities helped lay the foundation for the NTPP.

Sheboygan County NOMO[9]

Sheboygan's pilot program, referred to locally as "NOMO," an abbreviation for nonmotorized, is administered by the County Planning and Conservation Department, under supervision by the Sheboygan County Board of Supervisors. The Planning and Conservation Department coordinates closely with other county departments such as Highway and Law Enforcement. Planning staff also participate in weekly conference calls with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and its management consultant to discuss progress, process, and implementation issues.

Sheboygan County at a Glance:

Project Name: NOMO
Population (2010): 115,507
Geographic Area: 500 square miles
Population Density: 213 persons per square mile
Sidewalks (2005): 414 miles
Bicycle Lanes (2005): 1.75 miles
Shared-Use Paths (2005): 35.5 miles
Avg October Temp (max): 58.50 F
Avg October Temp (min): 36.00 F
Avg October Rainfall: 1.2 inches

Key Community Characteristics:

  • Largest land area of the pilot communities
  • Limited experience with nonmotorized transportation
  • 15 townships, 10 villages, three cities
  • Manufacturing remains a significant employment sector

Primary responsibilities for management of projects sponsored by one of the municipalities go to the agency receiving the award. The NTPP staff is available to assist communities, but responsibility for contract, record keeping, and implementation is transferred to the municipality through a two party agreement with Sheboygan County.

Program Partners and Advisory Committee

In March 2006, the county appointed a 30-person volunteer committee to advise the Board of Supervisors in directing the program. The Citizens Advisory and Technical Committee (CATC) members represent diverse backgrounds and interests including: transportation; education; health care; local businesses; local government; bicyclists; residents; and representatives from the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), State, and Federal departments of transportation. The CATC also formed five subcommittees - Finance, Health and Safety, Public Outreach, Safe Routes to Schools, and Technical. The CATC was active in developing and reviewing the county bicycle and pedestrian plan, and in developing project selection criteria to review proposals for grant funding.

The CATC structure and its strong relationships have helped to improve project design and delivery. Coordinating with MPO staff on the CATC facilitates amendments to the regional transportation plan and transportation improvement program is helping to move projects along more quickly. Relationships with WisDOT, the county Highway Department, and local public works and engineering departments have fostered discussion and education regarding improved design and engineering of facilities to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.

Sheboygan County Pilot Key Characteristics

  • Bicycling and walking counts showed 22.7 percent and 11.7 percent increases, respectively, between 2007 and 2010.
  • The first comprehensive approach to nonmotorized planning in the county, shifting focus from recreation to transportation, and educating local planners and engineers.
  • Focus on improving walking and bicycling access to schools.
  • Strong connections with local businesses and major manufacturing employers has encouraged participation and helped to move the program forward.
  • Unprecedented community participation and involvement in events such as annual bike/walk to work week, with significant support from local employers.
  • Focus on: 1) comprehensive nonmotorized networks in towns and villages; 2) nonmotorized corridors in heart of the city; and 3) gap closures and more direct routes to give advantage to bicycle and walking.

The NOMO works closely with the Highway Department and the city of Sheboygan Department of Public Works to incorporate bicycle and pedestrian access into their projects. In addition, a partnership with the County Sheriff's Department and the city of Sheboygan Police Department is providing training programs on effective pedestrian and bicycle law enforcement, and a "recycle a bicycle" program that works with at-risk youth to rehabilitate abandoned bicycles. While many of these projects are funded through NTPP, there are others funded solely through local sources, such as shoulder paving projects and road diets, which are part of a recently adopted policy to install facilities on county highways that meet a certain average daily traffic threshold.

Strategic Approach

One of the first tasks of NOMO was to develop a Pedestrian and Bicycle Comprehensive Plan 2035 (referred to as the Plan), which is the first county plan to address the needs of both bicyclists and pedestrians, and to consider them in a transportation rather than recreational context. The Plan provides analysis of facility and programming needs and was used to support project selection decisions associated with NTPP. The WisDOT actively consults the Plan for consistency in projects. The Plan was integrated as appropriate into the Year 2035 Sheboygan Area Transportation Plan in 2008 as part of the larger effort to bring the MPO plan into compliance with SAFETEA-LU.

The development of the Plan included 15 public listening sessions throughout the county, with large participation and much positive discussion. For many in attendance, this was the first time they truly considered bicycling or walking as transportation in addition to recreation. The Plan recommends incorporation of pedestrian and bicycle planning into every transportation project undertaken in the county. It prioritized projects into short-, mid-, and long-term categories. Short-term projects were thought to have a good chance of being started within 5 years using either NTPP monies or other funding sources. The original NTPP funds allowed the county to complete a significant percentage of the identified short-term projects.

Overall, Sheboygan County benefits from participation in the NTPP in many ways, including:

Sheboygan County will continue to benefit from the NTPP into the future. Policy changes related to incorporation of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure into road improvement projects have public and political support to continue on the momentum built since 2005 and combine well with the State's Complete Streets policy. The formation of new organizations such as the Sheboygan County Walk Bike Coalition will keep the needs of the walking and biking public in the minds of the population. Growing involvement in biking and walking issues from local organizations on a broad scale, from schools, the YMCA, police departments, and local governments will certainly assist in maintaining the profile of nonmotorized transportation in the county.

Updated: 02/10/2014
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