This section contains a description of the types of policies, codes, and standards jurisdictions can adopt to improve bicyclist or pedestrian safety or encourage pedestrian and bicycle travel. Policies set direction for jurisdictions and guide staff in the everyday decisions that impact bicyclists and pedestrians.
Sample policy documents include General Plans, Specific Plans, Redevelopment Plans and bicycle and pedestrian plans.
Codes are locally enacted ordinances that are intended to implement policies. The zoning code, for example, defines permitted land uses, floor-to-area ratios and other regulations pertaining to the type and form of development. It is normally generally consistent with the General Plan land use map.
Standards describe the types, dimensions and other design specifications of transportation improvements. In addition to things like roadway cross-sections, standards cal also include guidelines for traffic control.
In this section:
The commitment to creating a safe, bicycle and pedestrian-supportive environment should be reflected in a jurisdiction's General Plan. The General Plan is the highest policy document, and as such, it defines the community's vision and gives a roadmap of policy initiatives necessary to achieve the vision.
In order to be supportive of pedestrian and bicycle circulation, the Land Use Element of the General Plan should:
Portland Pedestrian Districts
The City of Portland has utilized the Pedestrian District concept since 1977. Pedestrian Districts are established in the Transportation Element of the City's Comprehensive Plan. Currently, there are 16 pedestrian districts in the City of Portland. More districts may be added through the Regional Transportation Plan, or area Specific Plans.
Pedestrian Districts have a dense, compact mix of uses confined mostly to commercial and office land use types. They have frequent transit service and are generally no less than 600 feet and no more than one mile in any direction. They are not usually linear corridors; rather, they have length and breadth. The Pedestrian Plan also contains a Main Street Pedestrian Design Area for linear corridors.
The Pedestrian Districts and Main Street Pedestrian Design Areas have a higher standard for pedestrian accommodation than other areas in the City. Additionally, projects located in these areas are usually ranked high in the queue for implementation.
For more information, see the Portland Pedestrian Plan or contact the Office of Transportation at 503.823.5185.
The Circulation Element of the General Plan should also aim to balance conditions for all road users. This may call for a change regarding the vehicular level of service policies governing the nature and extent of roadway improvements required of new development and maintenance of existing roadways. Some communities may be willing to accept degradations in vehicular level of service in specific areas in exchange for improved bicycle and pedestrian conditions. This is an instance where the Land Use and Circulation Elements may work together. By defining specific pedestrian or bicycle zones in the Land Use Element, the Circulation Element may establish different standards in these areas. For instance, if the Central Business District is defined as a pedestrian and/or bicycle zone, a city may accept a vehicular Level of Service D or E in order to provide bicycle lanes, compact intersections, or leading pedestrian intervals, whereas in other parts of the city, vehicular Level of Service C is the standard.
Balancing all modes supports safety as well as economic vitality. The Circulation Element should also establish goals for investment in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and ensure that pedestrian and bicyclist accommodation is a part of all transportation investments. The Funding section elaborates on creative strategies to increase funding for implementation.
A Bicycle or Pedestrian Plan may stand-alone or be incorporated into the General Plan. Some cities, such as Petaluma, have a Circulation Element composed almost entirely of individual plans while others, such as Santa Clara may have Bicycle or Pedestrian Plans that are separate from the General Plan, but guided by its policies. These Plans include design guidelines, proposed networks, recommendations for education and enforcement strategies, and general policies for improving bicycle and pedestrian conditions on all streets. While bicycle and pedestrian plans usually have a goal of reducing the number of collisions, they also aim to improve mobility and accessibility for these users. Policies to improve safety and mobility often overlap. However, while policies to improve safety usually improve mobility; policies to improve mobility do not necessarily improve safety.
The City of Oakland recently adopted a Pedestrian Master Plan as part of the Land Use and Transportation Element of the General Plan. The Plan has five goals:
Highlights from the Plan include a Pedestrian Network that incorporates Safe Routes to School, Safe Routes to Transit, and a Downtown Pedestrian District. The Plan also includes policy direction and a section on Design Elements. The Design Elements chapter describes Sidewalk Guidelines, Crossing Treatments, and Traffic Calming measures. It does not present prescriptive standards but presents best practices and available measures, in order to allow engineers and other city staff flexibility in determining the appropriate treatment for various conditions.
For additional information, contact the Oakland Pedestrian Safety Project at 510.238.7049.
The City of Chicago's Chicago Bike 2010 Plan will contain recommendations to install 100-200 miles of bicycle lanes by the year 2010.Highlights include an expanded section on encouraging safety and cycling for specific audiences. The strategy targets special populations, neighborhoods, and trips. The Plan also includes design guidelines that encourage " Bikes Allowed Full Use of Lane" signage, Bike Boxes, Bicycle Boulevards, and Bicycle Signals.
For more information contact the Department of Transportation at 312.744.0707.
A Specific Plan establishes a link between policies of the General Plan and the specific characteristics and proposals in a defined area. A Specific Plan may create broad policy concepts, or it may provide direction to every facet of development from the type, location and intensity of uses to the design and capacity of infrastructure.
The Specific Plan establishes a policy directive and develops special project specific site, building, parking, and open space design guidelines and standards that create a pedestrian- and bicycle-supportive environment. The Circulation chapter should illustrate pedestrian-and bicycle-supportive streetscape design concepts. The circulation plan for bicycles and pedestrians should create the safest, most efficient on- and off-roadway routes. Tools in the circulation chapter might include frequent or enhanced crossing opportunities, traffic calming elements, and way-finding signage. For instance, the Plan may establish barriers for vehicles such as cul-de-sacs or street closures, while maintaining right-of-way for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Specific Plan's implementation program should define the shared public and private investment in the multi-modal circulation network, from building new infrastructure to providing street improvements to existing infrastructure.
For municipalities that are unable to undertake a complete zoning update to modify street standards in designated cores or along corridors, an alternative is to develop a Pedestrian, Bicycle, or Transit Overlay Zoning Ordinance as has been done in the California cities of San Jose and Mountain View. New zoning might mandate design requirements such as reduced lot sizes and setbacks in order to shrink block sizes; provide more frequent crossing opportunities; and provide more direct connections to destinations for cyclists and pedestrians.
City ordinance updates to the Municipal Code can establish separate fee structures for bicyclist infractions; increase fines for crosswalk encroachment; and guide law enforcement officers in dealing with innovations such as pedestrians carrying flags. The Municipal Code may also contain a Bicycle Parking Ordinance, which requires all new development to have secure, convenient bicycle parking.
Capital improvements to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety should be included in capital improvement plans. Existing guidelines or criteria for prioritizing capital improvements may require modification to enable these types of projects to score well. An alternative is to develop capital improvement plans exclusively for pedestrian and bicyclist safety and accessibility. Example of how to incorporate pedestrian projects into capital improvement plans: Sacramento Pedestrian Master Plan (PDF).
The evaluation of pedestrian and bicycle impacts should be integrated into traffic impact analysis guidelines and plan review checklists. Requirements could include:
Impacts may be considered significant if:
Multi-modal Level of Service
Multi-Modal level of service or MMLOS is a method for balancing
the level of
service needs of auto drivers, transit riders,
bicycle riders, and pedestrians in street
designs by providing agencies with a tool
for testing different allocations of scarce
street right-of-way to the different modes
using the street. MMLOS is designed for evaluating “complete
context-sensitive design alternatives, and
smart growth from the perspective of all
users of the street. With a simple
spreadsheet, the analyst can use readily
available data and data normally gathered
by agencies to assess auto and transit LOS to
evaluate the tradeoffs of various street
designs in terms of their effects on the
perceptions of auto drivers, transit
passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians of the
quality of service provided by the street.
A community may wish to create a set of standards and guidelines that would be a community's "checklist for walkability and bikeability," and the document to which all other planning documents refer. The intention of the guidelines and standards document would be to improve pedestrian and bicyclist access and safety by providing a resource to those responsible for the conditions of the built environment.
The standards and guidelines document addresses issues of new development as well as the retrofit and improvement of areas that are already developed in the community. For instance, the document might establish design guidelines for new neighborhoods requiring short block lengths with controlled intersections at least every 500 feet in order to slow vehicle speeds.
Design Guidelines might also establish street standards based on adjacent land use instead of vehicle volume. This approach allows cities to be more flexible and to provide a higher degree of protection for both bicyclists and pedestrians in areas where they are more likely to travel. Street standards create the balance among all road users in a given area. Volume or vehicle-driven standards shift the balance to autos on all streets, whereas land use-driven standards allow city staff to shift the balance to pedestrians or bicyclists by allocating more roadspace to these users in particular areas. For instance, an arterial street in an industrial area might have a four-foot planting strip next to the sidewalk; no on-street parking; and narrow bicycle lanes because pedestrian and bicycle volumes are expected to be lower in this area. However, in a commercial district, the planting strip might be increased to six feet with on-street parking and six- to seven-foot bicycle lanes.
Analysis of bicyclist and pedestrian collision trends may help to guide the development of street standards. For instance, California collision statistics indicate that a majority of bicyclist collisions occur between 4:00p.m. and 8:00p.m. on major roads at non-intersection locations. Street standards that respond to these trends might require bicycle lanes to be a minimum of six-feet wide instead of five, striped with high-visibility materials. The bicycle lane width could also be a function of the speed and volume of the adjacent street. State collision statistics also indicate that children under the age of 15, the most vulnerable cyclists, are more likely to be involved in collisions on local and residential streets. Cities might establish a Traffic Calming Program and institute neighborhood design guidelines to slow traffic on these streets.
Sacramento Pedestrian Safety Guidelines and Pedestrian Friendly Street Standards
In August 2002, the City of Sacramento adopted Pedestrian Safety Guidelines to accomplish the following objectives:
A large portion of this document is devoted to determining when and how to treat pedestrian crossings, whether at signalized or unsignalized locations. The Guidelines contain a crosswalk policy and a toolbox of crosswalk treatments. The City's approach is to do more, rather than less, at locations where crosswalks might have been removed in the past. The guidelines have information about when to utilize treatments such as pedestrian refuge islands, curb extensions, advance limit lines, and pedestrian signals.
The City is currently undertaking a revision of its street standards to eliminate elements such as rolled curbs while reducing travel lane widths and overall street widths
For more information call 916.808.5307.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission • 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California 94607
This page was last modified Wednesday April 01, 2009
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