Bicycling Facilities Planning
As a planning strategy, bicycling – often combined in theory and in practice with strategies to improve pedestrian travel and encourage walkable communities – is commonly divided into the "Three E's": Engineering, Education, and Enforcement. (Some argue that two additional "E's" should be added: Encouragement and Elected officials.) The first "E" refers to physical design/construction projects. These projects include new facilities of various types, or reconstruction and improvements made to existing transportation infrastructure. The second "E" refers to programs – often in schools – which educate and encourage students and citizens about bicycling, its benefits, safe riding techniques, and how to find and use additional resources. The third "E" refers to programs, and sometimes lobbying efforts, designed to create and enforce laws recognizing and protecting cyclists as legitimate roadway users. These programs generally focus on traffic safety.
All three approaches – all three "E's" – work together synergistically and should be implemented simultaneously. However, we will focus in this section on the physical facilities which communities may construct, commonly referred to as "Bikeways". These infrastructure projects provide the physical network on which cyclists (hopefully, educated and informed) will travel. Other reports have defined and classified types of bicycle facilities in detail. Listed below are some of the major types of bicycling infrastructure; more detail on each of these can be found by clicking on the links.
- Bicycle/Multiuse Paths or Trails
- Bicycle Lanes
- Bicycle Boulevards
- Bicycle Marked Routes ("Sharrows")
- Bicycle Signed Routes
- Paved Shoulders (Rural areas) and Wide Outside Lane (Urban areas)
- Bicycle Parking
Although this study focuses on bicycling infrastructure, education and enforcement are also critical parts of bicycle planning. Are there best practices, either within the region or elsewhere, of education and enforcement efforts? What role do you think CMAP should play in bicycling education and enforcement?
An important assumption in this paper is that the provision of bicycle facilities increases bicycling. In other words, creating new bicycle facilities or improving existing ones will attract new riders or will encourage existing riders to use bicycle facilities more frequently. This assumption is supported by a wealth of planning literature.
A study of the impact of bicycle facilities in Minnesota found that areas where bicycle facilities were constructed during the 1990s had considerably higher bicycle mode shares in 2000 than they did in 1990, especially compared to areas where bicycle facilities were not improved. Almost every facility that was studied appeared to cause increases in cycling mode share in the areas around the facilities. For example, according to the authors, "Central city trips crossing the Mississippi River showed a much larger increase than trips that did not; this reflects a number of significant improvements to bicycle accommodation on bridges during this decade…[D]owntown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, where most of the facilities were concentrated, showed large increases in bicycle mode share, while downtown St. Paul, which had few improvements, had no increase." (Barnes, Thompson and Krizek)
Other studies have found correlations between the presence of bicycle facilities and bicycle use, particularly for commuting; one article states that "this analysis confirms the hunches of public policy decision makers that at least some, but perhaps not an inconsequential number, of commuters would be responsive to the bicycling option if only it were made available." (Nelson and Allen) Several other studies that compare bicycling across major metro areas found similar results. (Cerrano et al; Dill and Carr)
In northeastern Illinois, we have been successful in encouraging travelers to use alternative Transportation. For example, between 1990 and 2000, work trips by bicycle increased 58%. More broadly, walking and bicycling together account for 1.5 million trips daily in the region, and many more if transit access is considered (our transit system depends on non-motorized access). (US Census)
What is your reaction to the conclusions of these studies? In your community, have you seen an increase in bicycling in response to the construction of new facilities? If you are a bicycle rider, would the provision of new bicycle facilities make you more likely to bicycle?