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Designing for Nonmotorists

Highway and Street Facilities: Designing for All Users

Presented at the FHWA Field Engineers Learning & Development Seminar
April 20, 2010, Dallas, Texas

Christopher Douwes, Trails and Enhancements Program Manager,
Federal Highway Administration

Photo of a group of people attending opening day and dedication of the Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway in Texas.

Photo from the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse
Mineral Wells to Weatherford Rail-Trail, Mineral Wells, TX.
Opening day and dedication of the Mineral Wells to Weatherford Rail Trail.
(Photo: Texas DOT).

Course Overview

Part 2: Highway and Street Facilities


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On-Road Bicycle Facilities

  • What are the Standards?
  • National Highway System: Use AASHTO.
  • AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities
  • The 2010 Guide is under final review.
  • Everything else on-road: We recommend using AASHTO, but we can't enforce it.
  • Don't use only minimum design standards.

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Bicycle Facilities

Shared Lanes

  • Generally on lower volume roads.
  • Wide outside curb lanes.
  • Often enhanced with "Bike Route" signs.
  • Bicyclists may need to "take the lane" to avoid debris, potholes, bumps, etc.
  • Need to maintain smooth pavement.
  • Need bicycle-safe grates.

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Bicycle Facilities

Highway Shoulders

  • Allow motor vehicles and bicycles to coexist.
  • Shoulders wider than 6 feet usually can handle bicyclists: prefer 8 or 10 feet on busier highways.
  • Need to maintain smooth pavement.
  • Need bicycle-safe grates.
  • Need to remove debris.
  • Conflict with some State laws that prohibit using shoulders as travel lanes.

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Bicycle Facilities

Rumble Strips

  • Can be hazardous to bicyclists.
  • Need "escape" spaces: AASHTO will propose:

Graphic of roadway with rumble strips along roads edge. Graphic of rumble strips seaprated by short distance so bikes can weave onto / off shoulder.

Photo from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Western United States. Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden.
Drawing: Proposal for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, proposed 2010 edition.

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Bicycle Facilities

Bicycle Lanes: On-street lane for bicyclists.

  • Usually same direction.

Photo of a bus approaching an intersection. Photo of bicyclists and cars at an intersection.

Photos from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Left: Portland, Oregon. Taken in 2009 by Laura Sandt
Right: Madison, Wisconsin. Taken in 2004 by Margaret Gibbs

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Bicycle Facilities

Sometimes left side.
Photo of bicyclist on left side of urban road traveling with flow of traffic.
Sometimes contraflow.
Photo of bicyclist riding on isde of road contraflow.
Photos from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Top: Portland, Oregon. Taken in 2009 by Laura Sandt
Bottom: Brooklyn, New York. Taken in 2009 by Aaron Schill

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Bicycle Facilities

  • Intersections need special treatments.
  • Caution with "Door Zones".

Photo of bicyclist riding in bike lane approaching intersection. Photo of bicyclist riding in bike lane close to parked cars.

Photos from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Left: Del Mar, California. Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden
Right: Boulder, Colorado. Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden

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Bicycle Facilities

Cycle Tracks: Controversial

  • A bicycle facility next to roadway (1 or 2 way).
  • More popular in Europe (Netherlands, Denmark).
  • 2010 AASHTO Guide will address.
  • May be grade separated from motor and pedestrian traffic.
  • Intersection conflicts.

Photo of bicycle facility next to roadway. Photo of bicycle facility next to roadway.

Photos from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Left: The Hague, Netherlands. Taken in 2008 by Laura Sandt
Right: United States (Cambridge MA?). Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden

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Bicycle Facilities

Bike Boulevards

  • Interconnected routes favoring bicycle travel.
  • Can be a mix of on-street, shared lanes, bicycle lanes, and trail connections.
  • Relatively common in "college towns".

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Bicycle Facilities

Photo of a roundabout
Photo from Bicycle Countermeasure Selection System
(BIKESAFE).

Roundabouts


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Bicycle Facilities on Bridges

Possible Bicycle Treatment for Bridges and Roundabouts:
Olympia WA.


Photo of a bicyclist riding on shoulder of roadway after roundabout and bridge.
Photo from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Olympia, Washington.
Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden

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Bicycle Amenities

  • Bike racks on buses
  • Bike racks on trains
  • Bike parking for transit
  • Public bike parking
Photo of bicyclist on sidewalk waiting for approaching bus. Photo of bikes parked on bike racks. Photo of bike parked on rack on a bus.

Photos from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Left: Austin, Texas. Taken in 2008 by Greg Griffin, AICP
Middle: Boulder, Colorado. Taken in 2004 by Austin Brown
Right: Train in Denmark. Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden

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Pedestrian Facilities

  • Go to the Accessible Design Course!
  • Consider pedestrian amenities.

Phot of person sitting on bench on green area aside of road.
Photo from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Madison, Wisconsin. Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden

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Pedestrian Amenities

Eligible: Facilities related to transportation.

  • Benches
  • Bus shelters
  • Trees
  • Water
  • Restrooms
  • Trailside and trailhead facilities.
  • Lighting: Don't overdo! See www.darksky.org.

Photo of bus at bus stop. Photo of person sitting on park bench.
Photos from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Left: United States .Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden
Right: United States. Taken in 2006 by Annie Lux

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Pedestrian Amenities Not Eligible

Transportation funds should not substitute for park funds. Not eligible:

  • Picnic areas
  • Ball fields; bleachers
  • Running tracks around school fields
  • Park restrooms*
  • Other examples...

* Unless primarily a trailhead for a transportation trail.

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Bridges

Bridges: Essential Links.

Photo collage of different bridges.
4 photos from the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse.
Top right: Osage Prairie Trail, Tulsa OK.
Top middle: Steel Bridge, Portland OR
Bottom left: Farmington Canal, Cheshire CT
Right side: Soo Line "S" Bridge, Eau Claire WI
Bottom middle: Rich Zelensky, Nebraska Department of Roads, through the River Valley Trail Riders, Council Bluffs IA.

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Bridges

Photo of a bridge.
  • A bridge may be the "make or break" link for an interconnected nonmotorized transportation system.
  • DOT Policy: DOT encourages bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on bridge projects including facilities on limited-access bridges with connections to streets or paths.
    • This includes potential connections to facilities on parallel or intersecting streets or paths.


Photo: National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse Image Library.
Galer Street Pedestrian Bridge over Aurora Avenue, Seattle WA.

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Highway Bridges

  • Design bridges for all potential users.
  • Design highway bridges to accommodate emergency breakdowns.
  • Consider possibilities for nonmotorized users at both ends: are there possible connections to local streets or paths?
  • Motorists can handle several-mile detours; nonmotorized users cannot.

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Bridges

Photo of a covered bridge.
  • Think about the context!!!
  • Consider emergency needs. Bridges should account for vehicle breakdowns.
  • Consider emergency access needs, but:
  • You don't need tractor trailer standards for most trail bridges.

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Interstate Highway Bridge

Photo of Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Woodrow Wilson Bridge: I-95 VA, MD, DC

  • No previous nonmotorized connection.
  • Connects to streets and trails.
  • 1.1 mile, 12-foot wide.
  • Barrier separated.
  • Three "bump-out" areas.
  • Displays, telescopes.
  • Many awards.

Photo source: www.wilsonbridge.com/index.php/project-history/completed-activities/pedestrian-bike-path-update

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Bridge Retrofit

Photo of Steel bridge.

Steel Bridge, Portland OR

  • Lift Bridge: Connects downtown Portland with the east side of the Willamette River.
  • Highway on top
  • Railroad below
  • Trail connection added below.
  • Gates for lift section.

Photo: Mia Birk, Alta Planning + Design. From USDOT Report: Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned.

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Old Railroad Bridges

Osage Prairie Trail
Tulsa, OK

Photo of bridge.
Soo Line "S" Bridge
Eau Claire WI

Photo of 'S' shaped bridge bridge.

Photos from the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse.

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Trail Bridges

Farmington Canal Linear Park, Cheshire CT

  • If there is good emergency access, you don't need to design for heavy emergency vehicles.

Photo of trail and bridge.
Photo from the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse.
Farmington Canal, Cheshire CT

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Trail Bridges

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Akron OH

  • Bridge to extend the trail over the canal and under an active railroad track (hauling stone).
  • Length: 130 feet.
  • Metal-pitched roof protects trail users from debris.

Photo of covered bridge.

Photo source: Stuart Macdonald, American Trails
Owner: City of Akron
Engineer: Akron Engineering Bureau.
Contractor: Cavanaugh Building.
Project Description

The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail extends over 100 miles from Cleveland to New Philadelphia. The Cascade Locks Bikeway is one of several trail sections being developed by the City of Akron. The City needed a bridge to extend the trail over the canal and under an active railroad track.

"The challenging site conditions were one of the issues and the active railroad hauling stone on the trestle above was another," said Mike Teodecki, Akron Engineering Bureau's project engineer for this section of the trail. "Stone fragments often fall off the trestle and that is a safety concern."

Considering site restrictions, limited access to one side of the canal, as well as requirements to stay within the park boundaries, designers recommended installing a Gateway® pedestrian bridge diagonally across the canal. Though the structure has a length of 130', it fits nicely within the space allotted. In addition, to protect the pedestrians from falling debris, a metal-pitched roof was installed.

Cavanaugh Building, the general contractor, installed the bridge for the City using two large cranes. The cranes were placed on opposite sides of the canal. From there, they lifted the structure and carefully moved it under the trestle and onto the abutments. In spite of the close quarters, the installation was done in a day.

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Trail Bridges

Rail Bridge to Trail Bridge
Walkway Over the Hudson
Poughkeepsie - Highland NY

Photo collage of bridges.
You might want to make sure this can hold tractor trailers!
Photo source: Stuart Macdonald, American Trails
See more at www.americantrails.org/photoGalleries/cool/16-Hudson-Poughkeepsie-rail-trail-bridge-photos.html

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Tunnels and Underpasses

  • Design for the tallest likely user:
    • Maintenance vehicles?
    • Equestrians?

Photo of bridge underpass.
Clear Creek Trail crossing under Burlington Northern Railroad embankment,
Jefferson County, CO;
photo by Stuart Macdonald, August 1, 2009.

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Tunnels and Underpasses

  • Design for Perception of Security
    • Good visibility through the underpass
    • Lighting if needed.

Photo of bridge underpass.
Photo from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Boulder, Colorado. Taken in 2006 by Dan Burden.

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Traffic Control Devices

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Maintenance and Operations

  • If it is transportation, it should be:
    • Open for use just like local streets.
    • Open with no restricted hours of operation.
    • Open with no closures except for rare events (similar to local streets).
    • Maintained for use just like local streets.
    • YES, this includes snow and debris removal.
  • If you build it: maintain it.

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Questions, Comments, etc.???

Horse... Surface Transportation? You bet it is! Christopher B Douwes
Trails and Enhancements Program Manager
Federal Highway Administration
FHWA HEPH-10 Rm E74-474
1200 New Jersey Ave SE
Washington DC 20590-0001
Phone: 202-366-5013; Fax: 202-366-3409
www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/
www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/transportation_enhancements/

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Updated: 02/10/2014
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