Policy Priorities from Bike/Ped Professionals
The League did two surveys. One was of League members and advocates. Over 4000 advocates representing all 50 states responded to this survey. The other survey was done in conjunction with the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP). This survey went out to APBP members, including planners, engineers and professional advocates, as well as to Executive Directors and Policy Directors at League organization members. 195 people from 38 states responded. This second survey included detailed questions about specific funding sources and policies.
Here are the lessons learned from the APBP/League Leaders survey.
Practitioners are positive bunch. Overall they report more positive change in their communities than advocates, and are more adamant about it (i.e., more likely to see “a lot” of progress vs. some progress experienced by advocates.)
- Progress on infrastructure is strongest. Close to 90 percent of respondents saw progress on basic infrastructure: sidewalks, trails and on street bike infrastructure; and 80 percent saw progress on connecting bike networks and bike share.
- Progress is slower on driving related issues. Survey respondents gave their lowest ratings to issues of reducing speed limits and in stopping distracted driving. These issues were top concerns for both advocates and practitioners.
Top Policy Concerns
When asked to identify two top infrastructure policies, practitioners identified:
- Concern for connecting underserved and lower income communities. The survey showed that Connected Networks and reaching underserved communities were the two top infrastructure priorities. The comments also showed a struggle between being opportunistic and connecting existing infrastructure versus building new connections in underserved communities.
- These top two choices were the same for practitioners and advocates.
- Fix it First policies (“fix” included adding bicycling and walking accommodations) This was a very close third, and is strongly related to connecting existing infrastructure and making existing roads in underserved communities safe and accessible for all users
When asked to identify two top non-infrastructure policies, practitioners identified:
- Reducing speed and Vision Zero were the top two.This echoed the lack of progress identified in the first half of the survey. Reducing speed also did well among advocates.
- The need for better data. This was a close third, and again is very related to the first two. It’s been clear at the federal level that better data is needed to make stronger policy arguments. We’ve had to fight hard to get bicycling and walking needs integrated into performance measures because of this lack of data. The survey comments showed that better data is also critical to designing the best infrastructure.
- The answers of practitioners were different. Where practitioners highlighted policy and design, advocates leaned more towards education (for law enforcement and drivers). This is not surprising but worth noting.
On the FAST Act
For the most part the changes in the FAST Act have yet to be fully implemented so we’ll have to wait to see those results. However, I wanted to highlight an upcoming opportunity.
Respondents are hopeful— but skeptical — that state DOTs will genuinely implement the complete streets requirement on NHS roads. The FAST Act now requires that state DOTs consider all users when constructing or reconstructing roads on the National Highway System (NHS) and while the majority of respondents said that they were hopeful about the provision, the comments they wrote showed a healthy dose of skepticism. The concern is that DOTs will basically check a box “we considered it, not going to happen.”
Help may be on the way….
FHWA has some helpful resources, but they are not well known. When asked about a number of FHWA reports, respondents who knew about the reports overwhelmingly found them helpful but a high number of respondents had no knowledge of them. At the League we are particularly excited about the Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects report which shows up to 60 percent in savings when bike lanes are created as part of resurfacing. FHWA is preparing a series of events to highlight the findings of this report for the state DOTs.
The Federal Highway Administration is highlighting these reports.
FHWA is contracting with Cambridge Systematics and Toole Design Group to set up trainings in the following states: California, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin. The plan is to have a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in each host a training for stakeholders on the Workbook for Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projectsand how they can integrate bicycle facilities into their routine resurfacing programs, specifically through the use of Road Diets (Every Day Counts 4 innovation).
Attendees will be from within the MPO that are directly involved with a state or local resurfacing program. Engineers, bicycle and pedestrian, design and operations staff (state and/or local staff) will also be invited to attend.
This is a great opportunity for city and state officials to identify opportunities to build bike infrastructure cost-effectively. For Advocates, it’s a great opportunity to promote this training and ensure your state and local contacts get to that training!
The results of the surveys are included in this presentation. You can read the lessons learned from the League member and supporter survey here.