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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-122
Date: July 2006

Lesson 19: Greenways and Shared–Use Paths

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Lesson Outline

  • Introduction to shared–use paths.
  • Users of shared– use paths.
  • Path types and planning issues.
  • Shared–use path design.
Picture shows a broad shared use path along a river. A woman is jogging away from the viewer and there is a man rollerblading in the direction of the viewer.

Introduction to Shared–Use Paths

  • Importance of shared–use paths as a component of the nonmotorized transportation system.
  • AASHTO definition of a shared–use path.
  • Literature review.

Users of Shared–Use Paths

  • Bicyclists:
    – Different equipment types.
  • Pedestrians:
    – Runners.
    – Persons with disabilities.
    – Others.
  • Skaters and others.
  • User conflict.
Second picture shows a father and child on a tandem bike pulling a second child in a trail-a-bike.

First picture shows a man on a motorized scooter.   The third picture shows two children on scooters. All the cyclists and scooter riders are wearing helmets.

Path Types and Planning Issues

  • Rail–trails.
  • Rails–with–trails.
  • Greenway trails.
  • Paths adjacent to roads.
  • Towpaths (canal trails).
  • Paths along utility corridors.
  • Paths in large developments.
  • Planning and project development process.
  • Unique planning issues for unique trail types:
    Converted rail and canal corridors.
    Paths adjacent to railroads.
    Greenway paths.
    Paths adjacent to roads.
  • Common community issues (examples):
    Personal security/fear of crime.
    Adjacent land uses and access.
    Traffic safety.
  • Paths serve both transportation and recreation.

Shared–Use Path Design

  • ADA accessibility.
  • Trail width and striping.
  • Traffic safety at trail/roadway intersections.
The graphic shows a cross section drawing of a bike path: Signage is placed three feet away from the pavement, the path is ten feet wide with a two percent cross slope. A centerline is optional, and on either side is a minimum two foot wide shoulder sloping down from the path.

The first picture shows a wheelchair lift for a pedestrian overpass.

The second shows a wide crosswalk with striping.

Trail Design Issues

  • Path surface and treadway design.
  • Geometric design.
  • Access and restrictions.
  • Safety adjacent to roads.
  • Environmental impacts.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Amenities.
  • Signs.
  • Structures.
Five pictures show trail elements. 1.) A picture of a tunnel that conveys a trail beneath a road. 2.) A “Yield to Bikes” sign. 3.) A town limit sign. 4.) A historic marker describing an event in the trails vicinity. 5.) A bronze plate used as a place marker for a significant site.

Lesson Summary

  • Shared–use paths provide car–free arterials in the pedestrian and bicycle network.
  • Path users are diverse.
  • Different path types present different planning challenges.
  • Trail design must serve both transportation and recreation needs.



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