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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / FHWA Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation

FHWA Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation

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Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Describe historical precedents in planning and development as they relate to non-motorized transportation.
  2. Describe the health and societal benefits of non-motorized transportation.
  3. Recognize the various levels of government and community support for non-motorized transportation.
  4. Recognize both good and bad examples of bicycle and pedestrian planning and facilities.





Show examples (e.g., slides, videotape) of both good and bad bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Explain why the "good" places are good and the "bad" places are bad.


Present and explain the four lesson goals listed above (V-1-1).

Information Presentation:



Information Sequence

Outline the presentation of the lecture (V-1-2).


Summarize the historical growth of cities and how this has led to the current form of urban/suburban travel (V-1-3).

Summarize the personal and societal benefits of bicycling and walking (V-1-4).

Point out that there are levels of community and governmental support of bicycling and walking (V-1-5).

Review the examples of how modern planning practices consider and encourage the use of non-motorized transport (V-1-6).


Make liberal use of examples (e.g., slides, videotape) to illustrate the growth of cities and the effects of modern planning as they relate to non-motorized transportation.

Student Participation:




Engage the class in an exercise wherein you have them assist you in compiling a list of good and bad bicycle and pedestrian facilities/features specific to your area/location.

Have the students consider whether these features (both the good and the bad) were part of an actual plan or just an artifact of a lack of planning.

Engage the class in a discussion of their results. Probe individuals as to why they believe that some of their trip-making could not have been done by walking or biking.


Provide comment and feedback to the class as appropriate.





Assign reading for Lesson 2.

Ask the students to write a brief essay about their own most recent experience as a walker or a biker. Encourage them to write about the positive and negative aspects of this experience.


Provide a summary of Lesson 1 (V-1-7).


Ask the students to complete the exercise at the end of Lesson 1 in their workbooks. This exercise is reprinted below for your convenience.

1.8 Exercise: A Pictorial Essay

Part 1

Take photographs of both good and bad locations to bicycle and walk in your community. Photographs can document conditions in several locations or within one particular development (commercial or residential). Your photo log should capture the overall environment (such as streetscape), specific barriers and/or good features, and general land use relationships to the transportation facility. Prepare a short write-up for each photograph explaining the problems or positive features you inventoried.

Part 2

Using the specific locations you documented in Part 1, conduct an evaluation of engineering issues related to the following facility design aspects:

  1. Need for bicycle/pedestrian facilities — How would you establish the need for facilities (either existing or proposed improvements)? What data would you collect? What type of analysis procedures or comparisons would be useful in assessing need? If you documented existing facilities in your photographs, how would you evaluate effectiveness to those detractors that would suggest that money spent on facilities for pedestrian and bicycles is a waste of resources. Please develop some proposed guidelines, within the context of effective and reasonable public policy, for use by a local agency in addressing issues related to bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

  2. Incorporation of needed facilities in new design — Describe how any deficiencies you noted in your photo logging exercise could have been addressed if pedestrian and/or bicycle facilities were included in the original design and construction. Tabulate and evaluate the associated impacts. If you documented existing designs, describe and quantify impacts associated with accommodating pedestrians and/or bicycles in the facility(ies) you photographed.

  3. Incorporation of needed facilities in retrofit design — Assuming that you documented deficient locations for pedestrian and bicycle travel, list and describe possible ways to rectify and retrofit existing facilities so that these locations can more readily accommodate pedestrian and/or bicycle travel modes.

Solution Commentary

Part 1

In conducting this portion of the exercise, students could focus on a variety of aspects. Problems or impediments to bicycle and pedestrian travel could include: narrow travel lanes/sidewalks, narrow bridges, untimely termination of facilities, discontinuity between adjacent development projects, substandard facility design, driveway/parking lot conflicts, etc. Good conditions could include intersection pedestrian features, separate multi-use paths, access management in commercial areas, mid-block crossings, bicycle parking, pedestrian grade-separated structures, etc. The object of this exercise is to help students focus on aspects of representative conditions encountered by pedestrians and bicyclists as they use the existing transportation network for functional trip purposes.

Part 2

Student evaluations conducted for this portion of the exercise could focus on the following engineering issues and related facility design aspects:

  1. Need for Bicycle/Pedestrian Facilities — Some of the methods for establishing facility need could include development of exposure measures such as number of daily pedestrian trips per capita, average trip length, aggregate bicycle-miles traveled per year, and crash/accident rate. Maximizing the use of available data from agency sources such as local government, U.S. census data, regional planning statistics, etc. is an important aspect of developing a useful database to evaluate pedestrian and bicycle mobility issues. Sample-based surveys, as well as spot location data collection efforts such as counts, are also useful approaches. However, data collection is a time-consuming and expensive activity that makes the identification and use of existing data sources a crucial aspect in the establishment of databases for evaluating bicycle and pedestrian transportation issues. A good approach for promoting facility need within the context of the public dialogue is to quantify the benefits of pedestrian/ bicycling modes, such as reduced air emissions, energy savings, reduction of motor vehicle-miles traveled, mobility equity issues, and personal health advantages.

  2. Incorporation of Needed Facilities Into New Designs — Generally, it is much easier to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists if these modes of travel are given consideration in the initial design and construction of a transportation facility. Implementation of consistent design standards for pedestrian and bicycle facilities may result in impacts ranging from a small increase in construction costs to utility relocation and the problematic purchase of additional right-of-way. Measurement of impacts related to facility construction could be tabulated as additional cost per construction item, operational effect on traffic flow, anticipated effect on crash rate, additional right-of-way costs, likely utility relocation costs, construction impacts, etc.

Lesson Objectives:

Lesson Outline:

Urban/Suburban Development and Travel:

Benefits of Bicycling and Walking:

Government and Community Support:

Planning Practices That Encourage Walking and Biking:

(Instructor should provide a series of slides here that directly illustrate or complement by way of different examples the practices that are highlighted in the text of Section 1.7.)

Lesson Summary:


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Page last modified on February 1, 2013
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