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Summary of Federal Highway Administration Pedestrian and Bicycle Research and Program Activities

Prepared for TRB 2010

Federal Highway Administration
Pedestrian & Bicycle Program Activities
January 2010

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Federal Highway Administration


Photo of a female bicyclist waiting at an intersection.
Photo by Dan Burden © www.pedbikeimages.org

This document describes recent, ongoing, and upcoming efforts for the following Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Offices and Contacts:

FHWA Office of Natural and Human Environment

Contacts:

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's Livability Initiative: Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has made livability a key initiative. Secretary LaHood has said livability means "being able to take your kids to school, go to work, see a doctor, drop by the grocery or post office, go out to dinner and a movie, and play with your kids at the park, all without having to get into your car." The DOT has sponsored several webinars related to livability (see www.contextsensitivesolutions.org/content/topics/livability/). The Secretary's Blog has several articles related to walking and bicycling, including one supporting Complete Streets.

Federal-Aid Funding for Pedestrian and Bicycle Programs and Projects in FY 2009: States obligated $1.189 billion (including all Safe Routes to School and Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program funds) in Federal-aid highway program funds for bicycle and pedestrian programs and projects in FY 2009, more than twice the amount of any previous year. This is 2.0% of Federal-aid highway program funding in FY 2009 ($58.735 billion). See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/funding/bipedfund.cfm for details. Some highlights:

International Scan on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Mobility: In May 2009, FHWA, in conjunction with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), sent a team of 12 transportation professionals from the United States to visit five countries in Europe to identify and assess effective approaches to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility. Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom were chosen because of their innovative approaches to nonmotorized transportation, as well as the potential transferability of their policies and practices. Gabe Rousseau from FHWA and Ed Fischer from Oregon DOT co-chaired the Scan. A summary report is available online and a full report will be printed in early 2010.

Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP): The NTPP has provided $25 million to each of four communities to construct a system of bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The aim of the program is to increase mode share for walking and bicycling. The four communities are: Marin County, CA; Columbia, MO; Sheboygan County, WI; and Minneapolis, MN. An Interim Report on the project was submitted to Congress in January 2008. As projects are implemented in the four communities, they will be evaluated using a consistent methodology developed by the USDOT's Volpe Center. A final report is due to the US Congress by September 30, 2010, but the report will likely be submitted in fall 2011. Program updates and fact sheets can be found on the NTPP web page.

Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP): The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) authorized the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) to fund environmental and planning research within FHWA. STEP requires input for determining both funding levels and the specific research studies that are to be undertaken using STEP funds. Research funds for the Bicycle/Pedestrian and Health emphasis area totaled $270,000 for FY 2009 (out of about $14 million available each year in STEP). Of these funds, $100,000 was used for the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse; additional funds were used to support the NTPP and the International Scan. The FY 2009 funding level was an increase from previous years when annual funds were only $70,000. Funding decisions for FY 2010 have not been made yet. Further information on STEP is at www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/index.cfm.

Exemplary Human Environment Initiatives: FHWA established a recognition program for Exemplary Human Environment Initiatives (EHEI). See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/ehei/. The purpose of this initiative is to improve transportation options while remaining conscious of natural and environmental consequences. The award categories are:

The 2009 awards were announced in July. For information about the EHEI, see: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/ehei/awards/2009/memo_2009awards.cfm. The call for 2010 EHEI submittals will appear soon and the submittal deadline will be in April 2010.

Recreational Trails Program (RTP): FHWA's RTP continues to work with the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and through American Trails and other nonprofit trail organizations to support the National Trails Training Partnership, a clearinghouse for training for all kinds of trails. See www.NTTP.net.

Public Health and Recreation MOU: The Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Interior, Army, and Transportation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to Promote Public Health and Recreation. The USDOT signed on November 24, 2008. This MOU establishes a general framework for the cooperating agencies to promote uses and benefits of the Nation's public lands and water resources to enhance the physical and mental health and well being of all Americans. This collaborative effort is being undertaken to promote healthy lifestyles through sound nutrition, physical activity, and recreation in America's great outdoors. See links on the RTP Overview page. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports posted Call to Activity: Getting Kids Moving in the Great Outdoors to encourage youth participation in outdoor activities.

Other Items

Reauthorization: FHWA will be developing reauthorization proposals in 2010. The Bicycle/Pedestrian, Trails, and Enhancements Team posted a Summary of comments related to trails and TE activities at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/events/stam_2008/reauth_summ.cfm.

Internet reference iconUpdated Websites: FHWA's Bicycle/Pedestrian, Recreational Trails, and Transportation Enhancements team updates its websites frequently:

Some Bicycle and Pedestrian Guidance highlights:

FHWA developed an FHWA Accessibility Resource Library webpage. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/accessibility/.

FHWA Safety Design Activities

Contacts:

Safety Products Under Development

FHWA Pedestrian Safety Program Strategic Plan: The Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan is being developed to identify gaps in existing research, resources, and deployment and prioritize short- and long-term activities that FHWA can undertake to improve pedestrian safety, accessibility, and mobility. This Plan will provide a 15-year framework for FHWA activities, including conducting original safety research, developing safety programs and products, ensuring technology deployment, and updating, enhancing, or supplementing existing products or programs. The Plan will take into account FHWA's overall vision, mission, and goals, and recommendations for actions and will include performance measures that FHWA can use to assess its progress in accomplishing its goals. The Strategic Plan will be data-driven, informed and supported by original research and analysis of pedestrian crash/injury and other data, literature reviews, an evaluation of existing products and distribution methods, and input from a diverse group of informed stakeholders, including representatives of State and local agencies. This project will be completed by summer 2010. [Note this is a joint activity between FHWA's Safety Research and Safety Design teams.]

Develop Bicyclist Road Safety Audit Module: This project will provide funding to develop bicycle modules for Road Safety Audits. Pedestrian and bicycle accommodation are not generally considered during the RSA process, and this project would seek to change that. This project will be complete in 2011. (See item below on Pedestrian Road Safety Audits for a more comprehensive description.)

Develop a multimodal Highway Design Handbook for Older Road Users: This project will update the Handbook to include best practices used around the country in regards to guiding engineers and transportation specialists about safely accommodating older road users. This will include for the first time older bicyclists and motorcyclists in addition to automobile operators and pedestrians. This project will be complete in 2011.

Available Safety Products

Residents Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities: The FHWA has released A Resident's Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities, which provides examples from other communities working to improve pedestrian safety. The Guide includes information, ideas, and resources to help residents learn about issues that affect walking conditions; find ways to address or prevent these problems; and promote pedestrian safety. The Guide contains fact sheets, worksheets, and sample materials that can be distributed or adapted to meet the needs of a community. References to other resources and materials are also provided. Hard copies are available to order from safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_cmnity/ped_walkguide/index.cfm.

The Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies is intended to provide transit agency staff and roadway designers with an easy-to-use resource for improving pedestrian safety. The guide includes a variety of approaches to address common pedestrian safety issues that are likely to arise near transit stations, bus stops, and other places where transit (bus or rail) is operated. It provides references to publications, guides, and other tools to identify pedestrian safety problems. Descriptions of engineering, education, and enforcement programs that have been effectively applied by transit agencies are included as well as background information about pedestrian safety and access to transit. You can view and download the document at: safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_transit/. Hard copies are available to order at safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_bike_order.cfm.

Pedestrian Safety Countermeasures Proven to Work: The FHWA Safety Office completed an updated "Toolbox of Countermeasures and Their Potential Effectiveness for Pedestrian Crashes." This "toolbox" document estimates the crash reduction that might be expected if a specific countermeasure or group of countermeasures is implemented with respect to pedestrian crashes. The crash reduction estimates are presented as Crash Reduction Factors (CRFs). Traffic engineers and other transportation professionals can use the information contained in this toolbox when trying to figure out which countermeasures would be effective in improving safety at a certain type of location (such as a signalized intersection). Some of the countermeasures featured include pedestrian countdown signals, providing sidewalks and paved shoulders, installing medians and raised islands, "road diets" (or roadway narrowing), adding intersection lighting, implementing a "leading" pedestrian interval, adding an exclusive pedestrian phase (scramble) to a signalized intersection, converting an unsignalized intersection to a roundabout, etc. The document can be viewed and downloaded at: safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/tools_solve/ped_tctpepc/index.cfm.

FHWA Safety Policy Memo Contains Provisions for Pedestrians: Former FHWA Associate Administrator for Safety, Jeff Lindley, signed a memo on July 10, 2008, that strongly encourages the States to adopt nine countermeasures that are proven to increase safety and implement them wherever it makes sense. There are two that are aimed specifically at improving pedestrian safety. The document can be viewed at: safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/pc_memo.htm.

Pedestrian Safety Countermeasure Deployment Project: In 2002, the FHWA awarded grants to the cities of San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Miami to examine and map out their pedestrian crashes and develop a plan for deploying and evaluating various pedestrian safety countermeasures in high crash "zones" and locations. The purpose of the project was to demonstrate how a city could improve pedestrian safety by performing a detailed analysis of its pedestrian crash problem, identifying and evaluating high crash locations, observing factors such as driver and pedestrian behavior, and deploying various lower cost countermeasures tailored to the site. All three localities have completed their final reports. An independent evaluation was also conducted to compare the countermeasure deployment in the three cities. Some of the countermeasures evaluated include: automated (video) detection of pedestrians to extend crossing time, flashing beacons, "in street" pedestrian signs, "Turning Traffic Must Yield to Pedestrians" signs, median refuge islands, pedestrian push button acknowledgement, LED "No Turn on Red" signs, reduce minimum green time (hot button), "smart" crosswalk lighting, and pedestrian countdown signals. The report Pedestrian Safety Engineering and ITS-Based Countermeasures Program for Reducing Pedestrian Fatalities, Injury Conflicts, and Other Surrogate Measures Final System Impact Report was released in January 2009. To view the final reports, see safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/tools_solve/ped_scdproj/index.cfm.

Pedestrian Report to Congress: This Report to Congress on Pedestrian Safety was developed in accordance with requirements of the SAFETEA-LU Section 2003(e) required the Secretary of Transportation to submit to Congress a comprehensive report on pedestrian safety that builds on the current level of knowledge of pedestrian safety countermeasures by identifying the most effective advanced technology and intelligent transportation systems. Section 2003(e) also required that the report include recommendations on how new technological developments could be incorporated into educational and enforcement efforts and how they could be integrated into national design guidelines. The document can be viewed at: safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/legis_guide/rpts_cngs/pedrpt_0808/.

Improving Pedestrian Safety with Road Safety Audits: A road safety audit (RSA) is a formal safety examination of a future roadway plan or project or an in-service facility that conducted by an independent, experienced multidisciplinary RSA team. All RSAs should include a review of pedestrian safety; however, some RSAs may be conducted to improve an identified pedestrian safety problem. The Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Guidelines and Prompt Lists provides transportation agencies and teams conducting an RSA with a better understanding of the needs of pedestrians of all abilities. The RSAs are being field tested and evaluated in several pedestrian Focus States and/or Cities. A comprehensive report will be prepared after the field tests and revisions may be made to the checklist and guidelines. Two field tests have already occurred--one in Phoenix, Arizona and one in Prince George's County, Maryland. The guidelines can be viewed at: www.walkinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=3955.

Other Reports: Other FHWA Safety Reports related to walking and bicycling (e.g., PEDSAFE, BIKESAFE, and How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan) can be ordered at this web site: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_bike_order/.

FHWA Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Research (Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center)

Contacts:

Safety Research Activities in Progress

FHWA Pedestrian Safety Program Strategic Plan: Note that this is a joint activity between FHWA's Safety Research and Safety Design teams. The project description can be found in the Safety Design section of this document.

Evaluation of Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Measures: Evaluation of new and innovative signing and other low-tech countermeasures and recommendations for their installation and use. This project will be completed by December 2010.

Ongoing In-House Safety Research Projects

Segway® Human Transporter Research: Two studies have been developed to investigate the operational characteristics of Segway riders. The results of these studies are intended to assist engineers and policy makers in understanding Segway performance. One study examined the stopping behavior of experienced Segway riders. Participants rode on a closed sidewalk course at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) and made planned and unexpected stops while traveling in three different speed keys (up to 6 mph, 8 mph, and 12.5 mph respectively). The second study investigated both novice and experienced Segway riders performing simple navigation tasks on a sidewalk at TFHRC. A report detailing the results of these studies has been prepared. The final report will be available for download in early spring 2010.

Pedestrian Exposure to Risk: A new metric for measuring pedestrian and bicycle exposure to risk was developed. This metric was then tested in one sample city (Washington, DC) to determine its viability. Pedestrian and bicycle exposure to risk was measured at 100+ sample sites. A report summarizing the results from the sample city data as well as the validation of the metric is currently being prepared. The final report will be available in fall 2010.

Completed Research Reports:

Copies of the completed research reports are available upon request to: ann.do@dot.gov.

FHWA Office of Safety Programs
Safe Routes to School

Contact: Becky Crowe, Rebecca.Crowe@dot.gov, 804-775-3381
FHWA Website: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/safe_routes_to_school/.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) serves as the clearinghouse for the Federal SRTS Program. Below are highlights of activities the National Center conducted in 2009.

The National Center for SRTS Website: www.saferoutesinfo.org. This website is the central distribution mechanism for SRTS technical assistance. Highlights of new additions to the website in 2009 include:

Tracking the Federal SRTS Program

Mini-grants

Program Data Collection
To both facilitate local program planning and monitoring and to inform a national-level understanding of progress of the SRTS program, standardized data collection forms and data processing are provided.

Research Program
FHWA funded three projects specifically to evaluate different aspects of SRTS:

National Safe Routes to School Task Force Report: The FHWA established a National Safe Routes to School Task Force in October 2006 to study and develop strategies for advancing Safe Routes to School programs nationwide. The group included leaders in health, transportation, and education as well as representatives from State government, local agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The Task Force submitted the report to the U.S. DOT Secretary in July 2008 and a downloadable version of the report is available at: www.saferoutesinfo.org/task_force.

Updated: 10/23/2014
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