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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-137
Date: July 2006

Evaluation of Safety, Design, and Operation of Shared-Use Paths

Final Report

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U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Research, Development, and Technology
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101-2296

FOREWORD

Shared paths are paved, off–road facilities designed for travel by a variety of nonmotorized users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, joggers, and others. Shared–path planners and designers face a serious challenge in determining how wide paths should be and whether the various modes of travel should be separated from each other. Currently, there is very little substantive guidance available to aid in those decisions.

This document describes the development of a new method to analyze the quality of service provided by shared paths of various widths and the accommodation of various travel–mode splits. The researchers assembled the new method using new theoretical traffic–flow concepts, a large set of operational data from 15 paths in 10 cities across the United States, and the perceptions of more than 100 path users. Given a count or estimate of the overall path user volume in the design–hour, the new method described here can provide the level of service for path widths from 2 to 6 meters (8 to 20 feet).

The information in this document should be of interest to planners, engineers, parks and recreation professionals, and to others involved in the planning, design, operation, and/or maintenance of shared paths. In addition, this document will be of interest to researchers investigating how to analyze multiple modes of travelers in a finite space with minimal traffic control. This document describes a spreadsheet calculation tool called SUPLOS that was also developed as part of the same effort, and this tool is being circulated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Michael F. Trentacoste
Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development

Notice

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

 

TECHNICAL REPORT PAGE DOCUMENTATION

1. Report No.

FHWA–HRT–05–137

2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Evaluation of Safety, Design, and Operation of Shared–Use Paths—Final Report

5. Report Date

July 2006

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s):

J.E. Hummer, N.M. Rouphail, J.L. Toole, R.S. Patten, R.J. Schneider, J.S. Green, R.G. Hughes, and S.J. Fain

8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Department of Civil, Construction,
and Environmental Engineering
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61–00–R–00070

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Safety Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report: October 2003 – Jan 2005

14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR): Ann Do, HRDS–06.

16. Abstract

Shared–use paths are becoming increasingly busy in many places in the United States. Path designers and operators need guidance on how wide to make new or rebuilt paths, and on whether to separate the different types of users. The current guidance is not very specific; it has not been calibrated to conditions in the United States, and does not accommodate the range of modes found on a typical U.S. path. The purpose of this project was to develop a level of service (LOS) estimation method for shared–use paths that overcomes these limitations. The research included the development of the theory of traffic flow on a path, an extensive effort to collect data on path operations, and a survey through which path users expressed their degree of satisfaction with the paths shown in a series of videos.

Based on the theory developed and the data collected, the researchers developed an LOS estimation method for bicyclists that requires minimal input and produces a simple and useful result. Factors involved in the estimation of an LOS for a path include the number of times a typical bicyclist meets or passes another path user, the number of those passings that are delayed, the path width, and whether the path has a centerline. The method considers four other types of path users besides the adult bicyclists for whom the LOS is calculated—pedestrians, joggers, child bicyclists, and skaters.

This report documents the research conducted during the project. Other products of the effort include Report No. FHWA–HRT–05–138, Shared –Use Path Level of Service Calculator: A User’s Guide (for the LOS procedure and the spreadsheet calculation tool); and a TechBrief, Publication No. FHWA–HRT–05–139, Evaluation of Safety, Design, and Operation of Shared–Use Paths.

17. Key Words

Path, trail, bicycle, shared use, level of service, width, pedestrian, skater.

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19 Security Classification (of this report)

Unclassified

20. Security Classification (of this page)

Unclassified

21. No. of Pages

161

22. Price
From DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of form and completed page is authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. INTRODUCTION

  2. LITERATURE REVIEW

  3. DEVELOPMENT OF THEORY

  4. OPERATIONAL DATA COLLECTION

  5. OPERATIONAL DATA ANALYSIS

  6. PERCEPTION DATA COLLECTION

  7. ANALYSIS OF PERCEPTION SURVEY RESPONSES

  8. LOS PROCEDURE

  9. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Appendix A. Perception Survey Fact Sheet and Informed Consent Form

Appendix B. Perception Survey Background Information Form

Appendix C. Screen Shots From Perception Study Video

References

 


LIST OF FIGURES

 


LIST OF TABLES

 

FHWA-HRT-05-137

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