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Federal Highway Administration

Subject: ACTION: Transmittal of Guidance on Bicycle and Pedestrian Provisions of the Federal-aid Program

Kenneth R. Wykle
Federal Highway Administrator

Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Program Engineers

Date: February 24, 1999

Reply to: HEPH-30

This memorandum transmits the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Guidance on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Provisions of the Federal-aid Program and reaffirms our strong commitment to improving conditions for bicycling and walking. The nonmotorized modes are an integral part of the mission of FHWA and a critical element of the local, regional, and national transportation system. Bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs are eligible for but not guaranteed funding from almost all of the major Federal-aid funding programs. We expect every transportation agency to make accommodation for bicycling and walking a routine part of their planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance activities.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) continues the call for the mainstreaming of bicycle and pedestrian projects into the planning, design, and operation of our Nation's transportation system. Under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Federal spending on bicycle and pedestrian improvements increased from $4 million annually to an average of $160 million annually. Nevertheless, the level of commitment to addressing the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians varies greatly from State to State.

The attached guidance explains how bicycle and pedestrian improvements can be routinely included in federally funded transportation projects and programs. I would ask each division office to pass along this guidance to the State DOT and to meet with them to discuss ways of expediting the implementation of bicycle and pedestrian projects. With the guidance as a basis for action, States can then decide the most appropriate ways of mainstreaming the inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.

Bicycling and walking contribute to many of the goals for our transportation system we have at FHWA and at the State and local levels. Increasing bicycling and walking offers the potential for cleaner air, healthier people, reduced congestion, more liveable communities, and more efficient use of precious road space and resources. That is why funds in programs such as Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, Transportation Enhancements, and the National Highway System, are eligible to be used for bicycling and walking improvements that will encourage use of the two modes.

We also have a responsibility to improve the safety of bicycling and walking as the two modes represent more than 14 percent of the 41,000 traffic fatalities the nation endures each year. Pedestrian and bicycle safety is one of FHWA's top priorities and this is reflected in our 1999 Safety Action Plan. As the attached guidance details, TEA-21 has opened up the Hazard Elimination Program to a broader array of bicycle, pedestrian, and traffic calming projects that will improve dangerous locations. The legislation also continues funding for critical safety education and enforcement activities under the leadership of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If we are successful in improving the real and perceived safety of bicyclists and pedestrians, we will also increase use.

You will see from the attached guidance that the Federal-aid Program, as amended by TEA-21, offers an extraordinary range of opportunities to improve conditions for bicycling and walking. Initiatives such as the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program and the Access to Jobs program offer exciting new avenues to explore.

Bicycling and walking ought to be accommodated, as an element of good planning, design, and operation, in all new transportation projects unless there are substantial safety or cost reasons for not doing so. Later this year (1999), FHWA will issue design guidance language on approaches to accommodating bicycling and pedestrian travel that will, with the cooperation of AASHTO, ITE, and other interested parties, spell out ways to build bicycle and pedestrian facilities into the fabric of our transportation infrastructure from the outset. We can no longer afford to treat the two modes as an afterthought or luxury.

The TEA-21 makes a great deal possible. However, in the area of bicycling and walking in particular, we must work hard to ensure good intentions and fine policies translate quickly and directly into better conditions for bicycling and walking. While FHWA has limited ability to mandate specific outcomes, I am committed to ensuring that we provide national leadership in three critical areas.

  • The FHWA will encourage the development and implementation of bicycle and pedestrian plans as part of the overall transportation planning process. Every statewide and metropolitan transportation plan should address bicycling and walking as an integral part of the overall system, either through the development of a separate bicycle and pedestrian element or by incorporating bicycling and walking provisions throughout the plan. Further, I am instructing each FHWA division office to closely monitor the progress of projects from the long-range transportation plans to the STIPs and TIPs. In the coming months, FHWA will disseminate exemplary projects, programs, and plans, and we will conduct evaluations in selected States and MPOs to determine the effectiveness of the planning process.

  • The FHWA will promote the availability and use of the full range of streamlining mechanisms to increase project delivery. The tools are in place for States and local government agencies to speed up the delivery of bicycle and pedestrian projects - it makes no sense to treat installation of a bicycle rack or curb cut the same way we treat a new Interstate highway project - and our division offices must take a lead in promoting and administering these procedures.

  • The FHWA will help coordinate the efforts of Federal, State, metropolitan, and other relevant agencies to improve conditions for bicycling and walking. Once again, our division offices must ensure that those involved in implementing bicycle and pedestrian projects at the State and local level are given maximum opportunity to get their job done, unimpeded by regulations and red tape from the Federal level. I am asking each of our division offices to facilitate a dialogue among each State's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, Transportation Enhancements program manager, Recreational Trails Program administrator, and their local and FHWA counterparts to identify and remove obstacles to the implementation of bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.

In less than a decade, bicycling and walking have gone from being described by my predecessor Tom Larson as "the forgotten modes" to becoming a serious part of our national transportation system. The growing acceptance of bicycling and walking as modes to be included as part of the transportation mainstream started with passage of ISTEA in 1991 and was given a considerable boost by the Congressionally-mandated National Bicycling and Walking Study. That study, released in 1994, challenges the U.S. Department of Transportation to double the percentage of trips made by foot and bicycle while simultaneously reducing fatalities and injuries suffered by these modes by 10 percent - and we remain committed to achieving these goals.

The impetus of ISTEA and the National Bicycling and Walking Study is clearly reinforced by the bicycle and pedestrian provisions of the TEA-21. The legislation confirms the vital role bicycling and walking must play in creating a balanced, accessible, and safe transportation system for all Americans.

FHWA Guidance (1999) - Bicycle and Pedestrian Provisions of Federal Transportation Legislation

Updated: 2/10/2014
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