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

4. Evaluation and Results

Program Results

  • An estimated 16 million miles were walked or bicycled that would have otherwise been driven in 2010.
  • Average increases of 49 percent and 22 percent in the number of bicyclists and pedestrians, respectively from 2007-2010.
  • Estimated bicycling and walking mode share increases in the pilot communities from 2007 to 2010 outpaced the national average from 2001 to 2008.
  • Thousands of people were reached by training classes, personalized outreach, and other educational and promotional activities; some adults tried bicycling for the first time.
  • New plans and studies funded through NTPP will continue to improve nonmotorized transportation into the future.
  • Education and training for local planners, engineers, and elected officials have helped to institutionalize nonmotorized planning and projects into the future.
  • Expanded transportation options for all segments of the population, prioritizing access to schools, shopping, transit, and other destinations.

When NTPP was initiated in late 2005, the four pilot communities, FHWA, the CDC, and other WG members discussed how to meet the legislative requirements for reporting to Congress. The WG also recognized the benefit of data collection and evaluation to support local decisionmaking, as well as to contribute more broadly to the field of nonmotorized transportation planning and research.

Since the SAFETEA-LU legislation did not set aside dedicated funding for data collection and evaluation, the pilot communities agreed to work together to collect data and analyze results, and as a group, to dedicate a portion of their program funds to meet reporting requirements for this program. The FHWA also contributed additional discretionary research funds to support data collection and evaluation throughout the duration of NTPP.

Table 8 summarizes the legislative requirements for data collection and reporting to Congress, including information on shifts in nonmotorized, public transportation, and motor vehicle travel. The legislation also called on the program to respond to a challenging set of goals related to congestion, connectivity to activity centers, energy use, environmental quality, and health effects.

Table 8: Evaluation Parameters for the NTPP,
as Identified in SAFETEA-LU Legislation

Need to Provide Statistical Information On
Shifts in Travel Behavior
Frequency of bicycling and walking
Public transportation usage
Motor vehicle usage
Goals or Outcomes
Congestion
Connectivity to community activity centers
Energy usage
Environment
Health

The WG developed a consistent and collaborative approach to data collection and evaluation, which included a set of themes to help guide evaluation and address the data requirements. The themes included:

The WG considered the legislative goals, challenges to evaluation, and themes as it sought to implement a comprehensive and practical approach to data collection, project evaluation, and reporting within a limited budget. The situation necessitated a collaborative effort amongst the pilot communities. From 2006 to 2011, the WG developed and implemented project-level and community-wide approaches to evaluation to capture the impacts of the communities' nonmotorized investments on travel behavior. The two evaluation approaches and the methods used as part of each approach are provided in Table 9 and are described below. As part of these approaches, the WG utilized nationally recognized evaluation methods, such as those developed by the National Pedestrian and Bicycle Documentation Project, to ensure that data collection and analysis were consistent across the communities and could be reported nationally.

Table 9: Evaluation Methods Used in Each Approach

Project-Level Evaluation Community-Wide Evaluation
Annual bicycle and pedestrian counts (manual) Annual bicycle and pedestrian counts (manual)
Enhanced counts (additional sites, manual and automated) Bookend and annual intercept surveys
Bookend and annual intercept surveys Community-wide "bookend" survey
Attitude/awareness surveys  
Bicycle parking and trail surveys  
Qualitative assessments  

The two approaches are:

Project-level and community-wide evaluation methods and results are discussed in more detail in sections 4.1 and 4.2.

4.1. Project Level Evaluation and Results

The NTPP approach to project-level evaluation is based on a complementary set of activities designed to capture basic descriptive information, observed quantitative data on the use of facilities, and supporting qualitative data on attitudes and behaviors.

The project-level evaluation measures the impact of individual or groups of projects on travel behavior, and simultaneously documents shifts in the planning and policy environments as they relate to nonmotorized transportation. While the community-level evaluation measures the impact of projects at the broad community level before and after project implementation, the project-level approach is intended to yield information about specific locations or investments (both infrastructure and non-infrastructure).

To support the project evaluation, each pilot community developed a Data Collection Plan (DCP) with special emphasis on detailing the process for project level evaluation. These plans served as a guide for capturing, compiling, and analyzing all relevant project level information to be combined and synthesized in a consistent form in the final report to Congress.

The DCPs outlined three levels of evaluation that would yield different types of data. These methods of measurement apply to both infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects:

Because of the time and resources needed to collect and analyze quantitative or qualitative data at the project level, each community selected several projects to undergo the more detailed Level 2 or Level 3 evaluation. In addition to the broad program goals, each individual project has its own goals and objectives. For example, the goal of a sidewalk gap closure project might be to increase the number of trips along a particular corridor, to a particular activity center, or between two identified points that were previously disconnected from one another. Such a project is also meant to extend the reach of the sidewalk network, making a relatively small investment to yield a much longer continuous network of facilities. Similarly, a connection to a transit stop can enable a much longer non-automobile trip.

This section provides summaries for a sampling of three important projects or categories of projects for each community. The highlights include information about the projects themselves, benefits they provide, and initial evaluation results where data are available. Note that it often takes time after a project is completed for users to adopt it into regular patterns of use. As shown in Figure 11, bicycle use of the bridges in Portland, Oregon, was relatively light at first. As the bridges became better integrated into the regional transportation network, their use increased significantly.

Figure 11: Bikeway Miles and Bridge Bicycle Traffic Counts - Portland, OR [12]

A combination bar and line graph showing the number of bikeway miles and bridge bicycle traffic counts in Portland, Oregon between 1991 and 2009. The bikeway miles are 79 in 1991 and increase gradually to 87 in 1993, when they begin to increase more rapidly to 253 in 2002; they then increase gradually to a total of 281 in 2009. The bridge bicycle traffic counts increase gradually from 2,850 in 1991 to 8,875 in 2004, when they increase very rapidly to 16,711 in 2008 before dipping slighty in 2009 to 15,749.

Several of the NTPP projects were not completed in time to come into routine use before the September and October 2010 counts. The pilot communities intend to continue to monitor these locations, allowing for ongoing evaluation of their impacts.

The projects highlighted in this report represent the project types funded in all four communities. As noted in Chapter 3, all four communities funded a diverse set of projects, including on- and off-road infrastructure, as well as educational and outreach programming. Although a certain type of project may be highlighted in only one community, other similar projects may have been carried out in another pilot community.

The following projects and project categories are described in the following pages:

GetAbout Columbia

WalkBikeMarin

BikeWalk Twin Cities

Sheboygan County NOMO

4.1.1 GetAbout Columbia - Intersection and Sidewalk Improvements

GetAbout Columbia has invested in improving walking conditions to connect neighborhoods, commercial areas, downtown, and the University of Missouri campus. Efforts include substantial upgrades to major intersections and sidewalk projects to close critical gaps in the sidewalk network and remove barriers between key destinations.

GetAbout Columbia focused on five intersections along busy commuter corridors, and six key locations to build short pedways, to fill network gaps and provide safe connections to destinations. A pedway is an extra wide sidewalk alongside a major roadway, intended for both pedestrian and bicycle use. The Providence Road and Stewart Road intersection and the Stadium Road pedway projects are briefly highlighted below.

Highlighted Project: Providence Road / Stewart Road Intersection

Providence Road/Stewart Road

Key Elements: Remodeled intersection geometry, crosswalk construction, signals, sidewalks, striping, and marking to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, enhanced trail access.

Date Completed: May 2009

Cost: $400,000

Results: From 2007 to 2010 this intersection has seen a 19 percent increase in weekday walking and a 31 percent increase in weekday bicycling.

Figure 12: Providence Rd / Stewart Rd Intersection (source: GetAbout Columbia)

A photograph of an intersection with cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists in view.

The Providence Road/Stewart Road intersection is a key crossroads, connecting the 8.5 mile multiuse MKT Trail, residential neighborhoods, the university, student housing, and the downtown area. It is a major commuter intersection for all modes, with heavy motor vehicle use and high pedestrian activity going to schools, neighborhoods, shopping, parks, trails, and other destinations.

The intersection upgrade made improvements to enhance traffic flow, make pedestrian crossing safer, expand access to adjacent neighborhoods and businesses, and reduce traffic congestion and delays.

Stadium Boulevard

Key Elements: Eight foot wide pedway along north side of Stadium Drive, with 10 foot portion closer to stadium. Designed to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.

Date Completed: August 2010

Cost: $726,800 (all NTPP funds)

Length: 0.7 mile

Results: Significant sidewalk usage, safer walking environment, fewer people avoid walking in the area

Figure 13: Pre-Football Game Traffic on the Stadium Boulevard Pedway (source: GetAbout Columbia)

Stadium Pedway_football game.JPG

Figure 14: Bicyclist on the Stadium Boulevard Pedway (source: GetAbout Columbia)

A photograph of a cyclist riding on a wide sidewalk along a major arterial road.

The enhancements were made by changing the geometry of turn lanes, installing pedestrian crossing signals, constructing new sidewalks, improving trail access and connections, adding lighting and drainage enhancements, modifying signals, and adding striping and markings for bicycle and pedestrian safety. The upgrade project also created a plaza where the MKT Trail meets the Providence/Stewart intersection. This intersection is one of the most widely used by bicyclists and pedestrians in Columbia, and the newly constructed plaza provides a safer place for nonmotorized users to converge.

Counts at this location show that from 2007 to 2010 there was a 19 percent increase in weekday walking and a 31 percent increase in weekday bicycling, based on counts taken from 4-6:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Highlighted Project: Stadium Boulevard Pedway

Stadium Boulevard is a major arterial with high-speed traffic that runs through the University of Missouri campus, tying together multiple destinations including the convention center, hospital, Veteran's Affairs center, and sports complexes. The area handles significant pedestrian and automobile traffic during university football games and other athletic events, despite its lack of sidewalks.

A new pedway is on the north side of Stadium Boulevard. For most of the length the Stadium Boulevard pedway is 8-feet wide to accommodate pedestrians as well as bicyclists, with the block between Maryland Avenue and Monk Drive built to 10-feet wide to also handle game-time crowds. This project also included intersection improvements to provide safe and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant crossings where upgrades were necessary. Construction of the Stadium Drive sidewalk required extensive coordination between the city of Columbia, Missouri Department of Transportation, and the University of Missouri.

4.1.2 GetAbout Columbia - Experimental Infrastructure Designs

In addition to common, standard designs, GetAbout Columbia has used NTPP funding as an opportunity to experiment with other creative infrastructure and traveler information approaches. These are intended to improve safety, provide convenient information to travelers, and make the best use of limited roadway right-of-way and other resources. Examples of these innovations include:

The Windsor/Ash Bicycle Boulevard is an example of one of the design experiments to improve bicycling experience. The project is described below.


Project Facts

Name: Windsor/Ash Bicycle Boulevard

Summary: New lane-striping, signage, shared-lane pavement markings, construction of new median which provides safe crossing for nonmotorized users.

Dates: Completed Summer 2010 Total Cost: $28,800

Results:

  • Counts show a 124 percent increase in bicycle traffic and a 4 percent decrease in motor vehicle traffic after the installation of the bicycle boulevard.
  • Average vehicle speeds decreased by 7 percent.

Highlighted Project: Windsor/Ash Bicycle Boulevard

Also known as "walk-bike" streets, "bicycle boulevards" are typically residential streets where pedestrians and bicyclists are given priority over motorists. These streets provide a quiet, safe, and attractive route for bicyclists and pedestrians - especially bicyclists who do not feel comfortable traveling on high-traffic streets.

Bicycle boulevards typically divert vehicular traffic to other, larger roads in the immediate area to ensure the bike/walk priority. These streets may have special signs and symbols that indicate them as priority walking and bicycling streets. They are most successful in areas with a grid-like or otherwise comprehensive roadway network where a parallel alternate route or routes can accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians choosing not to travel on the busier main route. Residents are usually in favor of them because of reduced and slower vehicle traffic.

The Windsor/Ash Bicycle Boulevard in Columbia is approximately ½-mile long and travels through the Benton-Stephens and North Central Columbia neighborhoods. It provides a critical connection in an area without many safe east-west options, helping bicyclists to bypass two busy streets and access the downtown area, parks, and retail centers. The bicycle boulevard was created by modifying an existing low volume residential street. Elements include:

Figure 15: Designs of Privately Funded Bike Boulevard Murals (source: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/
multimedia/photo/2010/07/14/
winning-designs/
)
Drawings of two designs that are included in the bike boulevard murals. One is a green circle with people holding hands around it with a sun in the center, and the other is a purple and red circle with a gold ring and ferns around it, and a sun in the middle.

Figure 16: Bicyclist on the Windsor/Ash Bicycle Boulevard (source: GetAbout Columbia)
A photograph of a bicyclist riding along a bicycle boulevard. The street has a bicycle symbol with arrows pointing in the direction of travel and dashed lines delineating the bicycle boulevard.

Installation of the Windsor/Ash Bike Boulevard was completed in summer 2010. To assess the impact of the project, GetAbout Columbia performed manual counts of bicyclists and automobiles before installation in April 2009, and after the installation in April 2011. The counts saw an increase in bicycling of 124 percent, and a decrease in automobile traffic of 4 percent, based on counts taken between 7-9:00 a.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. Average vehicle speed along the route decreased 2 miles per hour, from 28 to 26 mph.

The bicycle boulevard experiment has been well received; a May 2011 survey of residents along the route found that 74 percent of respondents think the bicycle boulevard is a good idea and 65 percent feel it improves the neighborhood image.

Additional pedestrian and bicycle improvements soon to be installed in the area are expected to increase bicycle traffic on the facility.

4.1.3 GetAbout Columbia - Promotional and Educational Programs

GetAbout Columbia focused significantly on outreach, educational, and promotional programs to complement its infrastructure investments. These efforts, which represent a small portion of the overall program budget, strategically complement infrastructure investments. The coordinated approach included special branding, media advertisements, and annual surveys regarding attitudes and program awareness. As a result of the promotion and educational efforts, awareness of GetAbout Columbia has increased substantially over a 3-year period. Overall, the percentage of respondents who were aware of GetAbout Columbia increased from 66 percent in 2007 to 83 percent in 2010.

Project Facts

Name: Bicycle Skills and Safety Classes

Summary: A variety of bicycle skills and safety classes aimed at teaching safe and confident riding on city streets.

Dates: 2008-2010

Total Cost: $200,000

Results:

  • Post-class surveys of "City Cycling" class show 24 percent of car trips replaced with walking or bicycling;
  • Partnership with the Columbia Public School District;
  • 4,000 skills class participants;
  • 24 additional League Certified Instructors trained.

Figure 17: Participants Learn Bicycle Maintenance in a Skills Class (source: GetAbout Columbia)

Several people with their bikes particpating in a maintenance class.

The NTPP funds have gone toward new and continuing outreach programs; for programs that had previously existed, the additional resources provided an opportunity to greatly expand capacity and programming reach. Promotional and educational programs include events supporting walking and bicycling to work or school, personalized travel planning support, repairing and recycling donated bicycles, guided rides, and a variety of bicycle skills and maintenance classes. Two programs are highlighted here: Bicycle Skills and Safety Classes and the Walking School Bus.

Highlighted Project: Bicycle Skills and Safety Classes

GetAbout Columbia has offered a variety of bicycle skills and safety workshops and classes, geared toward children, adults, and local law enforcement officers. From 2008 to 2010, nearly 4,000 people participated in GetAbout Columbia's educational efforts, skills classes, and workshops. Programs such as "Confident City Cycling," "Basic Cycling 101," and "Winter Cycling Basics" target adults, while "Walk Safe, Bike Safe" classes are aimed at elementary school children. "Walk Safe, Bike Safe" created a partnership with the Columbia Public School District and local private schools, providing workshops on bicycle safety, helmet fit, basic maintenance, and signaling.

The Confident Cycling course has four modules that teach a variety of skills, and end with a group ride. The modules include learning basic repairs and maintenance; equipping bicycles for errands, commuting and travel; improving bicycle handling skills; understanding traffic laws pertaining to bicycles; and navigating local roads and trails safely and legally by bicycle. Post-class surveys of the "Confident City Cycling" course indicate that participants have replaced 24 percent of their car trips with walking or bicycling.

Project Facts

Name: Walking School Bus

Summary: Program through which children walk to school under adult supervision.

Dates: 2008-2009

Total Cost: $100,000

Results:

  • 2008: 350 children, 20 routes at 10 Columbia schools.
  • 2009: 435 children participating, 40 routes at 15 Columbia schools

Figure 18: Elementary School Students Participate in a Walking School Bus (source: GetAbout Columbia)
A photograph of students and adults walking together along a sidewalk on a residential street.

Figure 19: Elementary School Students Cross the Street as Part of the Walking School Bus (source: GetAbout Columbia)
A photograph of students walking together on a crosswalk.

All classes are taught by instructors who have been certified by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). GetAbout Columbia partnered with the PedNet Coalition, a local nonprofit organization whose work encourages nonmotorized travel, to provide many of the classes. PedNet staff report that in addition to expanding the visibility and reach of their classes, the pilot program has helped to significantly increase the number of trained LAB instructors and helped them gain valuable experience. This investment will help PedNet continue to teach and promote nonmotorized travel beyond the end of the pilot program.

Highlighted Project: Walking School Bus

The nationally recognized Columbia Walking School Bus (WSB) has over 400 children participating on 40 routes at 15 schools. The program provides a consistent, safe system for groups of children to walk to school under the supervision of trained adults. It provides safe passage for students who already walk and encourages other children to walk. GetAbout Columbia provided additional funding to expand the program in 2008 and 2009, helping to grow participation, the number of routes, and the volunteer base. Today, the program continues with a separate source of funding and increased stability as a result of the pilot's efforts.

Adult volunteer leaders all receive training in roadway safety and receive criminal background checks. The Columbia WSB has recruited and trained 120 volunteer leaders; primarily parents, college students (who may receive college credit), or senior citizens.

The WSB routes generally start in a neighborhood within 1 mile of school and follow streets determined by the home locations of participating children. The program provides an opportunity for additional physical activity as part of the daily routine. In general, exercise in the morning has been found to help students focus and perform in the classroom, and walking to school reduces automobile traffic near schools at pick-up and drop-off time. The WSB also has social and community benefits for children and adults. Figure 18 and Figure 19 show students walking to school as part of the program.

4.1.4 WalkBikeMarin - Regionally Significant Infrastructure Projects

WalkBikeMarin has allocated most of its NTPP funds for projects that are generally local in scope (e.g., on-road bicycle lanes and sidewalk improvements). However, the program has also invested in projects with a broader regional impact. These projects promote bicycling and walking throughout the region by making either localized or broad improvements to the regional nonmotorized transportation network. Some large bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects in which WalkBikeMarin has invested include:

The Cal Park Hill Tunnel Rehabilitation and Pathway is one of WalkBikeMarin's signature investments. The project is described below.

Highlighted Project: Cal Park Hill Tunnel

Project Facts

Name: Cal Park Hill Tunnel

Summary: A 1,100-foot rail-with-trail tunnel providing nonmotorized access between San Rafael and Larkspur.

Date Completed: December 2010

Total Cost: $27,700,000

  • $13,200,000 Regional Measure 2 (SMART)
  • $4,600,000 Regional Measure 2 (TAM)
  • $3,000,000 TEA-21
  • $2,500,000 NTPP
  • $1,500,000 Transportation for Livable Communities
  • $900,000 Bicycle Transportation Account
  • $500,000 Transportation for Clean Air
  • $400,000 County/Local

Results:

  • Reduced bicycling trip time by 15 minutes.
  • A four-fold increase in weekday bicyclists from September 2010 to May 2011.

The Cal Park Hill Tunnel project involved reconstruction of a 1,100-foot railroad tunnel and construction of a 1.1-mile nonmotorized path linking the Cities of San Rafael and Larkspur. The tunnel opened to the public in December 2010 and provides direct access to commuter ferry service to downtown San Francisco. A full map of the project area is provided in Appendix 3.

Originally constructed in 1884 and widened in 1924, the Cal Park Hill Tunnel accommodated freight railroad service through the 1970s. After rail service through the tunnel ended, a series of partial collapses in the late 1980s and early 1990s damaged the structure. In 1998, the county and a broad team of organizations began efforts to restore the tunnel for permanent nonmotorized use and accommodated future commuter rail service as an innovative "rail with trail" project. Construction began in December 2007, including excavation of the collapsed tunnel portions, removal of old railroad track and debris, and tunnel walls and ceiling reinforcement.

The $27.7 million tunnel and 1.1 mile, 12-foot wide paved pathway opened in December 2010.

The contribution of $2.5 million in NTPP funds was a critical last piece of funding to begin construction on the project.

Figure 20: Tunnel Groundbreaking September 2008
(source: Volpe Center)
Figure 21: Cyclists in Tunnel at North Portal
(source: WalkBikeMarin)
A photograph of the tunnel groundbreaking of the Cal Park Hill Tunnel. The tunnel in the background is overflowing with dirt to be excavated and groundbreaking attendees stand in the foreground. A photograph of cyclists and pedestrians entering a tunnel portal on a multi-use trail.

The Cal Park Hill Tunnel path is a key element of Marin County's Route 5, a 14-mile on- and off-road bicycle corridor stretching from Novato through Larkspur. The path provides direct, nonmotorized access between San Rafael and the Larkspur Landing Shopping Center and Golden Gate Ferry Terminal, which provides service to San Francisco. It provides a safe alternative to a circuitous on-road route that required the crossing of a high-speed freeway on and off ramps at an uncontrolled intersection, and reduces bicycle travel time for this route by approximately 15 minutes.

The Cal Park Hill Tunnel path is a truly regional investment, providing a critical link for current and planned transit to San Francisco. Usage of this signature facility is expected to grow when commuter rail service is introduced in the tunnel and as residents become more familiar with the path, its connections to transit, and the expanding bicycle network.

Figure 22: Cal Park Hill Tunnel Project Map (source: WalkBikeMarin)

A map of the Cal Park Hill Tunnel shows that the tunnel connects to a multi-use path in San Rafael and connects to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

Updated: 02/10/2014
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