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Public Policies for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Mobility Skip to content

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Public Policies for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Mobility


A key component of livable communities is a safe and convenient place for people to walk and bike as part of their daily activities. Providing pedestrians and cyclists with a safe environment is a joint effort that requires support from different community stakeholders including citizens, policymakers, community leaders, and government officials. To provide pedestrian and cyclists with safe environments, it is important that policies and initiatives focusing on their safety are implemented. The Federal Highway Administration produced this report to identify and provide examples of effective policies and programs that support pedestrian and cyclist safety and mobility.

Key Points

In May 2009, a team of 12 U.S. transportation professionals with expertise in bicycling and walking visited five countries in Europe—Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom—to identify effective and innovative approaches to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility. This report examines the innovative policies implemented in these five countries, as well as similar approaches taken by cities in the U.S.

The policies identified in this report are grouped into two main categories, 1) Complete Streets and enabling policies and 2) supporting policies. Enabling policies for Complete Streets include funding policies, planning policies, engineering and design policies, and maintenance policies, whereas supporting policies address elements that are not directly related to street facilities but are critical for improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility such as traffic calming measures, education policies, and end-of-trip facilities, among other things.

Several common themes that emerged among the areas examined during the compilation of this report include:

  • No single “silver bullet” policy or action exists to make streets and roads safer and more conducive to pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • To achieve desired outcomes, pedestrian and bicyclist policies should clearly state a purpose and vision, as well as a way to measure progress toward the desired outcomes.
  • Several model policies and programs in the United States (e.g., in New York, NY; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC) can serve as examples and best practices for other U.S. cities and States.
  • Complete Streets policies appear to be the most widely publicized policy approach used in many U.S. cities, counties, and States.
  • There are numerous examples of enabling programs and strategies that can be used to implement Complete Streets policies.

An extensive list of Complete Streets policies and policy analysis is included in the appendices of this report. The policies featured in this section are from U.S. cities, as well as other countries.

How to Use

This comprehensive report identifies and analyzes best practices for establishing and implementing public policies that foster pedestrian and cyclist safety and mobility. The report is an excellent resource for community planners, policymakers, local government officials, and citizens interested in making their community more walkable. Readers should pay particular attention to the appendices provided at the end of the report that offer a broad range of examples of areas that have implemented policies and ordinances to improve the walkability of their communities, thus enhancing the overall livability of these areas.

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