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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-05-094
Date: July 2006

Lesson 5: Land Use Regulations to Encourage Nonmotorized Travel

There is an aerial photograph of a suburban development. The streets curve and snake through the landscape, and by design, they do not lend themselves to easy pedestrian movement.

Lesson Outline

  • General elements of zoning and subdivision regulation.
  • Development standards for commercial areas.
  • Development standards for residential areas.
  • Elements of a form-based code.

General Elements of Zoning and Subdivision Regulation

  • Subdivision layout.
  • Cul-de-sacs.
  • Future extension of streets.
  • Staged implementation.
  • Internal circulation.

Commercial Development Standards

  • Building orientation and facades.
  • Onsite circulation.
  • Access between developments.
  • Parking lots.

Building Orientation

Picture shows an 8-12’ sidewalk in front of stores. There are trees, large flower pots, newspaper boxes and park benches, narrowing the walking area. There is a child on a scooter and three women holding coffee cups and chatting outside one of the shops.

Source: PBIC (Dan Burden), www.pedbikeimages.org

Onsite Circulation

The picture shows a sunken patio area with café tables in what looks like a new shopping center. Parking does not come right up to the doors of the shops. There is a covered pergola area enclosing the patio, and the shop entrances are under this covered area. The picture shows numerous groups of people sitting on a wall separation of the patio, and others seated around tables.

Source: PBIC (Dan Burden), www.pedbikeimages.org

Development Connections

The picture shows a new-looking shopping development with a gateway structure between buildings. By creating a landmark the connection to the parking area is easier to find.

Source: PBIC (Dan Burden), www.pedbikeimages.org

Suburban Parking Lot Design

The Picture shows a K-mart store in the distance. The person taking the photo was standing far out in the parking lot, and the photo shows a vast parking lot in the foreground.

Creative Parking Lot Design

The picture shows a tree lined sidewalk that is lavishly landscaped on both sides. The sidewalk area forms a buffer between what looks to be the roadway into a commercial area on the left and a parking lot on the right.

Source: PBIC (Dan Burden), www.pedbikeimages.org

Residential Design Standards

  • Connectivity.
  • Short cuts for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Pedestrian- and bicycle-oriented streetscapes.
  • Streets with low vehicle speeds (<32 km/h (<20 mi/h)).


The picture shows an aerial view drawing of a neighborhood with a variety of different house types and sizes. Streets are connected in a variety of ways. There are few cul-de-sacs. There is always more than one way to enter or exit a street.

Source: PBIC (Dan Burden), www.pedbikeimages.org

Missed Connections

Picture shows a very wide suburban street with the backs of the neighborhood houses facing the street. In the foreground of the picture, there is a sidewalk with a mid-block crossing that ends short or reaching the neighborhood.


Photo of a neighborhood cul-de-sac

Source: PBIC, www.pedbikeimages.org

Trail Connections

Picture shows a tree lined brick paved path connecting one street in a neighborhood with another street at the other end. There are bollards in the center of the path at each entrance, keeping cars from cutting through. However, bikes and pedestrians can easily pass.

Source: PBIC (Dan Burden), www.pedbikeimages.org

Rear-Access Parking

Picture shows an alleyway. Garage doors and fenced back yards face the ally. There are a few trees and trashcans are neatly lined up. Instead of looking at the garage door and cars parked out front, cars are parked in the rear, not blocking the streetscape view.

Source: PBIC (Dan Burden), www.pedbikeimages.org

Purpose of a Form-Based Code

  • To establish a basic prescription for good public space along a street.

Picture shows a town plan, with zoning uses such as commercial, municipal and residential, shown in different color codes. There is mixed zoning in the plan, avoiding arterial centralization.

Source: Arlington County Form Based Code

Elements of a Form-Based Code

  • Building placement (height, distance from street, width).
  • Streetscape standards.
  • Architectural standards.
  • Standards for other public spaces—civic greens, pedestrian walkways, etc.

Lesson Summary

  • Zoning and planning regulations can be effective tools in encouraging pedestrian and bicycle travel.
  • Developers play a key role in accommodating and encouraging nonmotorized travel.
  • There are a variety of strategies for achieving good design in residential and commercial areas.



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