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Research & Foundation

Policy and Planning Strategies to Support Bicycling in America


Bicycling and walking are essential elements of an intermodal transportation network. Thus, these non-motorized modes should be considered in policies and planning strategies at the federal, state, and local levels.

Because the majority of federal and state policies related to bicycling and walking have a distinct focus on broad planning and funding requirements, it is often the local policies that have the greatest impact on bicycling in neighborhoods and communities.

This site, funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration and maintained by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center within the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, seeks to educate policymakers, community leaders, and citizens on federal, state, and local policies related to bicycling and walking. Brief descriptions of such legislation are outlined in this section of the site.

Key Points

The website examines federal policies focused on improving the walking and biking environment in communities across the country.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) is discussed in this section of the site. SAFETEA-LU has contributed to many improvements made to bicycling and walking programs including providing funding for the Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) program and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and creating a non-motorized transportation pilot program in four separate cities to fund non-motorized transportation infrastructure projects. Links are provided throughout this section of the site to provide readers with further information regarding these federal-level policies and many others.

Though the site concentrates mainly on federal legislation, it touches on specific improvements that can be made to state and local policies to make them more supportive of bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Policy changes to address bicycling and walking at the state and local level may include a number of elements, such as:

  • Setting measurable goals that emphasize non-motorized transportation modes

  • Making changes to standard planning and operating procedures

  • Revising tools used to manage growth such as bicycle parking ordinances

  • Changing motor vehicle codes to eliminate laws that may be problematic for pedestrians and bicycles

  • Improve driver education programs to include pedestrian- and bicycle-related information

How to Use is an excellent resource for any policymaker, community leader, neighborhood planner, or local official looking for information on legislation that is supportive of bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly planning strategies. Use the site to gain a better understanding of the federal-level policies that focus on facilitating bicycling and walking.

The list of recommendations for state and local legislation can be used as a framework to establish effective pedestrian and bicycle plans in all communities.

Updated January 2014

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