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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 71 · No. 1 > National Highway Institute (NHI)

Jul/Aug 2007
Vol. 71 · No. 1

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-005

NHI logo.

The National Highway Institute (NHI)

901 N. Stuart Street, Suite 300

Arlington, VA 22203

by Alyssa Gold

Designing Facilities for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

In 1990, former Federal Highway Administrator Thomas Larson described walking and bicycling as "the forgotten modes" of transportation. Much has changed since then. When the U.S. Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act in 1991, the landmark legislation underscored the important role walking and bicycling play in creating a balanced, intermodal transportation system. Subsequent legislation (1998's Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) spurred States to devote staff and financial resources to creating more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure. In fact, Federal funding for these facilities rose from $22.9 million in 1992 to $395 million in 2006.

Current Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) policy encourages inclusion of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in all transportation projects. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires newly constructed and altered sidewalks to be accessible and usable for people with disabilities. The Act further states that accessibility improvements need to be implemented for existing facilities. To help transportation professionals comply with Federal requirements, the National Highway Institute (NHI) offers courses to help practitioners meet the growing demand for pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

NHI developed the courses Pedestrian Facility Design (FHWA-NHI-142045) and Bicycle Facility Design (FHWA-NHI-142046) to provide participants the tools to address the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in their plans and designs. Participants will learn to apply planning concepts, practice designing facilities, and become familiar with key references for working on real-world projects.

Pedestrian Facility Design focuses on examples involving design issues for corridors and at intersections. Upon completing the course, participants will be able to do the following:

  • List the characteristics of pedestrian and motorized traffic that influence facility design
  • Apply the concepts of universal design and the applicable reference manual to redesigning existing locations and/or designing new locations to meet the needs of motorized and nonmotorized users
  • Use the reference manual provided in the course to support design decisions
  • Identify potential conflicts between pedestrians and other traffic and propose design options that improve access and safety
  • Analyze the network for improvement options to meet the needs of pedestrians and other traffic

Although no Federal design standards exist for bicycle facilities, the Bicycle Facility Design course focuses on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, or a modification thereof, which many States and localities are using as a design guide.

Upon completing this course, participants will be able to do the following:

  • Identify common roadway and traffic conditions that affect bicyclists
  • Describe the characteristics of a roadway and shared-use path that are designed to accommodate bicyclists
  • List the benefits of accommodating bicyclists with different abilities
  • Recognize opportunities to accommodate bicyclists during the planning, design, construction, and operational phases of a project
Participants in a session of the NHI Bicycle Facility Design Course in Frankfort, KY, are working on group designs. Photo: Theo Petritsch, Senior Transportation Engineer, Sprinkle Consulting.
Participants in a session of the NHI Bicycle Facility Design Course in Frankfort, KY, are working on group designs.
Photo: Theo Petritsch, Senior Transportation Engineer, Sprinkle Consulting.

Both 1.5-day courses rely on traditional instructor-led segments, large and small group exercises, and, most importantly, participant feedback. "NHI instructors recognize that course participants have a huge amount of experience and knowledge, and the instructors encourage them to share that knowledge," says NHI instructor Theo Petritsch, who teaches both courses.

The courses target transportation planners, roadway designers, and traffic operations engineers who are involved in developing pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Petritsch adds that for each course NHI provides two instructors, one of whom is a professional engineer. "Our instructors have decades of experience working with elected officials; regional planning agencies; State, county, and city design departments, safety offices, and developers," he says. "These individuals not only write comprehensive plans and prepare design drawings, but they also are nationally recognized researchers in the area of non—motorized transportation and frequently develop planning tools for Federal, State, and local agencies."

For more information on these courses, contact John Fegan at 202-366-5007 or To schedule a session, contact the NHI Training Coordinator at To learn more about NHI courses, visit

Alyssa Gold is a contractor for NHI.

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration