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Interim Report to the U.S. Congress on the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program SAFETEA-LU Section 1807

Chapter 3: Coordination and Communications

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As explained below, a Working Group was formed for the purposes of coordinating activities across the four pilot communities and for coordinating the evaluation data being collected in each community. The Working Group has been an invaluable resource for coordination and information sharing purposes.

Initial Meeting Of The Pilot Communities

An initial meeting of representatives of the four communities was held December 7-9, 2005 in Washington, DC. Also attending were FHWA Field and Headquarters staff, U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (The Volpe Center) staff, representatives of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a member of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition; and staff of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)8. The meeting provided an opportunity to:

Formation of the Working Group

The Working Group formed after the December 2005 meeting includes representatives from the following entities and agencies:

Ongoing Activities of the Working Group

The Working Group members have participated in ongoing e-mail discussions and biweekly conference calls, which have served as an effective mechanism for coordinating efforts across the pilot communities. An evaluation subgroup has been working on issues specific to data collection and analysis.

Second Meeting of the Working Group

On November 7-9, 2006, the Working Group met in Minneapolis, Minnesota to share information among the pilot communities and discuss the development of the Program Evaluation Plan elements. The meeting also provided an opportunity for the Working Group to see the bicycle and pedestrian facilities available in that city.

Future Plans of the Working Group

Future annual meetings of the Working Group are planned. In October 2007, the Working Group is planning to meet in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. Future meetings will be in Marin County, California, and Columbia, Missouri.

The ongoing coordination of community and evaluation activities will continue on a regular basis through telephone and e-mail communication.

Communications Planning

As discussed in Chapter 1, SAFETEA-LU Section 1807, states that the purpose of the NTPP is "to demonstrate the extent to which bicycling and walking can carry a significant part of the transportation load." Because the NTPP is a demonstration program, it is critical that the experiences in each pilot community be recorded, measured, documented and disseminated to a broader national audience. The recording and measuring of information (namely statistical information) in the four pilot communities is covered in Chapter 4: "Evaluation Approach and Issues." This chapter addresses the documentation and dissemination of that information.

To achieve its intended outcomes, the NTPP requires each pilot community to:

  1. Plan, program and construct facilities that make bicycling and walking safe and possible, and to conduct education and outreach activities that encourage bicycling, walking, and the use of nonmotorized transportation.

  2. Collect statistical information that measures success in achieving the purposes of the demonstration.

  3. Document the non-quantifiable aspects of the demonstrations, including successful techniques and methods utilized in the conduct of the program and barriers to the achievement of program purposes.

Effective implementation of the legislation (which calls for a national demonstration program) is possible when the four pilot communities, together:

  1. Coordinate an overall effort that assures that their four separate experiences, though different, are comparable and can be integrated into a single national report.

  2. Implement a programmatic and technical consultation process among the pilot communities during the demonstration.

  3. Share information among and within pilot communities, including sharing best practices and effective methods for program management and implementation.

  4. Undertake an information transfer and communications outreach effort aimed at the larger national nonmotorized community during the demonstration and at its conclusion.

  5. Prepare an Interim Report to Congress 2 years into the 4-year program, and a Final Report to Congress at the end of the program.

Planned Activities

Section 1807 does not establish or fund a separate national program for information collection and dissemination. Representatives from each of the four pilot communities agreed to contribute a portion of their $25 million in authorized funding towards coordinated and unified communications activities. These contributions are administered through a 4-year $674,000 cooperative agreement between the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and the FHWA on behalf of the four pilot communities. The agreement was signed in September 2006, and outlines tasks in three broad areas:

  1. Communications among the pilot communities;

  2. Communications within each of the four pilot communities; and

  3. Communications with the larger nonmotorized community.

Communication Strategies Among the Pilot Communities

As part of the tasks outlined in its cooperative agreement, the RTC has begun to coordinate program activities among the four communities through periodic in-person meetings, conference calls, and an e-mail listserv for representatives of the four communities.

Many of the strategies designed to improve communications among the four pilot communities take advantage of innovative electronic resources. For example, an NTPP Working Group listserv allows for moderated dynamic conversations and exchange of technical information among members. In addition to an e-mail listserv, RTC is developing a private Web site for Working Group members that includes features and functions such as a calendar, polls, chats, file sharing, a photo gallery, and other elements.

To complement e-mail and Internet communications, pilot communities participate in biweekly teleconferences to discuss issues and make decisions. Finally, RTC plans to organize two national meetings (similar to the December 2005 "summit") that provide a forum for information sharing.

Communications Strategies Within Each Pilot Community

Each of the four pilot communities has a unique population -- some pilot communities include small and rural towns or villages, while others are home to large urban university centers. In each community, stakeholders and local partners are playing a role in the implementation of the NTPP, from informal attendance at public events to formal participation on local advisory committees or other groups.

To communicate effectively with local partners and stakeholders, RTC is developing informational pieces common to the four communities that can be used to disseminate information about the NTPP.

Communications Strategies with the Larger Nonmotorized Community

While local relationships are key to successful implementation of the pilot program, the four communities are encouraged to work with and learn from the larger national community of nonmotorized transportation advocates, and to have a cohesive presence at national events.

Goals and objectives in this area include maintaining a clearinghouse of NTPP information and coordinating activities to share information about NTPP progress with the larger nonmotorized community. Specific activities include coordination with FHWA's Bicycle and Pedestrian Website, developing annual reports on the NTPP, organizing speaker presentations on the NTPP (such as a panel at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting in Washington, DC).

Progress on Communications Activities

This section describes progress on communications activities between fall 2006, when the RTC cooperative agreement was executed, and fall 2007. Some activities have been completed, while others are expected to be completed or are underway.

  1. A moderated listserv has been established and has more than 60 members who are involved in administration and implementation of the NTPP. E-mail listserv activity is expected to increase as nonmotorized infrastructure and educational projects are identified and executed.

  2. A private Web site for the use of the Working Group will be developed, with most of its features fully deployed by early 2008.

  3. Regular biweekly teleconferences of the Working Group bring together 15-20 Pilot Program professionals to discuss program issues and make group decisions. The calls are moderated by FHWA, with support from RTC and the Volpe Center. Since the program's inception, these telephone conferences have been a vital resource for group learning and consensus-building.

  4. A successful summit meeting was sponsored by FHWA and RTC in December 2005; the summit established the Working Group and launched the Pilot Program. A subsequent 3-day meeting, similar in purpose to the 2005 meeting, was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on November 7-9, 2006. During that meeting, attendees identified and addressed many important issues that had arisen during the first year of the program. This meeting was also the first opportunity for the pilot program managers to meet and engage in discussions among themselves. A third meeting is scheduled for October 2007 in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

  5. RTC created posters and a brochure that are now in use by the NTPP communities. The materials provide narrative and colorful visual representations of the vision and purpose of the NTPP. Two national posters capture the broad objectives of the national program with one poster for each Pilot Community presenting a local picture of projects. A single national tri-fold brochure was designed to direct the attention of the viewer to the Web sites of each local pilot community for more information. As part of the development of these publications, a "trade name" for the Pilot Program was created: "SmartMobility -- Walk, Bike, and Benefit."

  6. A calendar of meetings has been established and is being used to schedule presentations by representatives of the program. NTPP presentations have been made, or are scheduled to be made at conferences sponsored by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Public Works Association, National League of Cities, American Recreation Coalition, League of American Bicyclists, Rail-Volution, Pro Walk/Pro Bike, and other national, state, and regional groups.

  7. This Interim Report to Congress is one of the program's most visible products. The report was developed with major contribution from all parties, including FHWA, RTC, the Volpe Center, and especially the four Pilot Communities.

Moving forward, RTC will continue to work with the pilot communities and the Working Group in undertaking the tasks outlined in its cooperative agreement with FHWA to expand and improve communications across the three broad task areas.

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Updated: 12/10/2014
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