This March 2011 update summarizes some of the accomplishments of the four communities that are part of the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP). 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. The legislation authorized $25 million 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 NTPP 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 United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is required to evaluate the program to determine how it increases the frequency of walking and bicycling trips. The challenges of fully delivering the program in the four-year timeline are significant. To be able to implement some of the critical capital projects and to collect valid pre- and post-data, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) plans to submit a final report to Congress in late 2011.
Even as implementation continues, the program has helped the four communities improve their walking and bicycling networks. The program has yielded several significant accomplishments to date, including:
Formation of an inter-agency Working Group
The NTPP partners have formed a Working Group with representatives from the pilot communities, the U.S. DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Volpe Center (Volpe), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health, the Rails to Trails Conservancy, and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. The Working Group uses biweekly conference calls and annual meetings to collaboratively manage the program, develop evaluation procedures and evaluate results, and prepare the forthcoming report to Congress.
Collaborative approach to data collection and evaluation
To maintain a coordinated national program and establish consistent and credible reporting of results, the NTPP communities developed a collaborative framework for data collection and evaluation. This includes convening an evaluation subgroup to resolve technical issues, and implementation of a common methodology for data collection and schedule for counting and surveying nonmotorists. Working Group participants contracted with the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies, and Alta Planning and Design to assist with community-wide data collection.
Implementation for innovative designs/infrastructure and education/outreach
The pilot communities are experimenting with innovative designs, outreach, education, and data collection and evaluation methods that can be applied by peer communities nationwide. All of the NTPP pilot communities have planned and implemented innovative walking and bicycling infrastructure, education, and outreach programs. Examples include: colored bicycle lanes which are being used to improve driver and bicyclist safety at intersections; personalized travel planning which provides customized information to individuals about transit, walking, or bicycling routes and resources; and a bicycle sharing program. Additional information is available online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/ntpp/.
Partnerships and leveraging outside resources
The NTPP communities are leveraging additional funds, over $58 million as of December 2010, toward implementing projects and programs that support bicycling and walking. Pilot communities receive funding, staff and volunteer hours, legal services, and land easements, from a variety of sources, including: businesses and non-profit organizations; local impact fees and ballot supported taxes for the construction of additional facilities; other Federal transportation funds; and funds from local governments and universities.
Development of a comprehensive, connected multimodal network
The NTPP investments enhance the role of walking and bicycling as part of comprehensive, connected multimodal networks by closing important gaps and providing access to key destinations, often through improved links to transit. Planned investments will provide connections to transit, such as: trail connections to bus/rail/ferry; bicycle parking at transit; bicycle racks on buses; improved pedestrian access; bicycle sharing or rental; and long term bicycle storage at stations. Good access to transit significantly increases the range of destinations accessible by walking or bicycling, allowing many more trips to be shifted from automobile to walk/bicycle and transit. These shifts can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption and improve public health through physical activity.
Connections to schools, businesses, and other community activity centers
One NTPP goal is to develop networks of infrastructure facilities for walking and bicycling that connect directly to community activity centers, including education, work, shopping, and recreation sites. These connections are vital components of a complete transportation system, enhance community livability and accessibility for all groups, and promote walking and bicycling as viable daily options for recreation and meeting daily needs. Planned investments provide at least one connection to key activity centers, including: schools; universities; downtown and employment districts; senior facilities; medical facilities; parks and recreation; grocery stores; museums and tourist attractions, and transit facilities. To plan successful projects, the pilot communities engage directly with diverse community members, including youth, low-income, and those with limited English proficiency.
Mainstreaming nonmotorized transportation in multimodal planning
The four communities represent a broad national spectrum, with a range of population and demographics, urban, suburban, and rural areas, and levels of prior experience with nonmotorized policy, planning, and infrastructure. All are engaging local officials and community groups to participate in new and more focused planning efforts, data collection, and local policies. This will allow the communities to benefit from their successful NTPP investments far beyond completion of the pilot program. See additional information about each community.
The Department and the pilot communities have been working hard to complete the NTPP final report to Congress. However, to complete the report, FHWA and the communities need to allow sufficient time for the projects to be completed, and most importantly, to allow for a thorough evaluation of the walking and bicycling network benefits. Some of the critical data for evaluating the program is being collected and FHWA anticipates submitting a Report to Congress in late 2011. For more information about NTPP, please visit the FHWA Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program website.