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Bike/Ped Elevated to USDOT Priority

Last week in Pittsburgh, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, announced a groundbreaking agenda by US DOT to address the safety of people who bike and walk in all 50 states. 

“Safety is our highest priority and that commitment is the same regardless of which form of transportation people choose, including walking and biking,” Foxx told the more than 1,000 attendees at the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference. “This initiative is aimed at reversing the recent rise in deaths and injuries among the growing number of Americans who bicycle or walk to work, to reach public transportation and to other important destinations.” 

Rolling out over the next 18 months, the “Safer People, Safer Streets” Action Plan commits the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to identify the causes of bicycle and pedestrian crashes and to work with practioners, elected officials and advocates to find solutions to reduce injuries and fatalities.

Over the past year, the League has been calling for a new National Bike Plan to update the last one written 20 years ago. This ambitious safety initiative is DOT’s response — and we look forward to working with them to define the  safety needs for bicycling and walking for 20 years to come. 

To start this process FHWA, FTA and NHTSA field offices will work with local officials and transportation experts to conduct bicycle and pedestrian safety assessments in every state. The assessments will identify gaps in bicycling and walking networks, including areas of high risk and propose solutions for improvement. By doing so, we hope that Secretary Foxx can use his influence to push engineers and planners to think about all users of the road. Future phases of the program will work with elected officials and practioners from communities grappling with high fatality and crash rates. 

The Administration has identified four areas of focus, including

  • Infrastructure safety: In addition to the assessment process, US DOT will put out new guidance on road diets, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure including separated bike lanes, and safety solutions in and around transit states.  In addition FHWA is designing a research agenda to fill in the gaps on what types of such as road diets, behavior safety and education, vehicle safety and improvements in data collection and analysis. The effort builds off of the bicycle and pedestrian policy written by the LaHood DOT, and promises to implement many of those policies.
  • Behavior Safety and Education: Including new countermeasures and educational material on distracted motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Vehicle Safety: NHTSA has already been studying connected cars and crash avoidance technologies.  This initiative will make sure the relationship between these technologies and bicyclists and pedestrians are included.
  • Improvements in Data Collection and Analysis: For years bicycling advocates have been asking for more and better data on bicyclists’ trips and crash data- and now US DOT is on board. The 2015 Traffic Monitoring Guide (TMG) and the Traffic Monitoring Analysis System (TMAS), which collects data on traffic flow and vehicle counts, will for the first time, also be able to receive bicyclists and pedestrian counts.

Thanks to Secretary Foxx the safety concerns of bicycling and walking are now a top priority of the US Department of Transportation. We look forward to working with the Secretary and with you to make it a priority of state and local governments, as well.

Photo: Secretary Foxx speaking at the 2014 National Bike Summit, by Brian Palmer

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