FHWA Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation
LESSON 1: THE NEED FOR BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN MOBILITY (INSTRUCTOR'S NOTES)
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Describe historical precedents in planning and development as they relate to non-motorized transportation.
- Describe the health and societal benefits of non-motorized transportation.
- Recognize the various levels of government and community support for non-motorized transportation.
- 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).
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
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.
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
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
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.
Using the specific locations you documented in Part 1, conduct an evaluation
of engineering issues related to the following facility design aspects:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
Student evaluations conducted for this portion of the exercise
could focus on the following engineering issues and related facility design
- 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.
- 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
- Describe historical precedents in planning and development as they relate to non-motorized transportation
- Describe the health and societal benefits of non-motorized transportation
- Recognize the various levels of government and community support of walking and biking
- Recognize good and bad examples of bicycle and pedestrian planning and facilities
- Growth of cities
- Current urban/suburban travel trends
- Benefits of bicycling and walking
- Government and community support
- Planning practices that encourage walking and biking
- Lesson summary
Urban/Suburban Development and Travel:
- Bicycling and walking have become novelty experiences
- Development follows the lead of the predominant personal transportation
- Planning and zoning regulations have favored low-density, automobile-oriented
- Planners and designers "just don't think about" pedestrians
Benefits of Bicycling and Walking:
- Transportation system
Government and Community Support:
- State coordinators/programs
- Travel demand management (TDM) strategies
- Stated user preference for walking and biking
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.)
- Post-WW II development plans have hampered the ability to accommodate
bicycle and pedestrian travel
- There are many reasons to encourage the use of non-motorized transportation
- Currently there is strong government and community support for walking
- There are many simple strategies that promote non-motorized transportation