Federal Highway Administration Launches Bicycle Safety Guide

The Federal Highway Administration recently launched a new website guide for transportation professionals entitled “null”. The website is part of an initiative announced in September to reduce the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities on American roads. The initiative aims to addresses infrastructure safety, education, vehicle safety, and data collection, with the Bikesafe website being one component.

Morristown, NJ Wayfinding

Bikesafe is centered around the Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System, which is “intended to provide practitioners with the latest information available for improving the safety and mobility of those who bike. The online tools provide the user with a list of possible engineering, education, or enforcement treatments to improve bicycle safety and/or mobility based on user input about a specific location.”

The guide talks about how many cities are making great efforts to promote cycling, including through bikeshare systems, but many times there is a lack of adequate facilities to safely accommodate riders. To provide these facilities, the guide suggests getting started by identifying priorities, which are safety, access, aesthetics, and equity. It is also important to address community concerns and know where funding can be obtained.

The guide continues by identifying specific countermeasures; “a total of 46 engineering, education, and enforcement countermeasures … are those that have been in place for an extended period of time and/or have proven effective.” They include:

  • Shared roadways measures, such as bridge access, parking treatments, lighting, lane narrowing, and interacting with streetcars;
  • On-road bicycle facilities, from standard bike lanes to separated facilities;
  • Intersection treatments, including roundabouts, turning restrictions, and reducing curb radii;
  • Maintenance;
  • Traffic calming, which include chicanes, speed tables, and mini-circles;
  • Trails;
  • Markings and signals; and
  • Other measures such as enforcement, education, and wayfinding.
Allamuchy Trail

The guide also features an interesting discussion on how land use affects bicyclists. This includes having destinations in close proximity, secure parking, and sufficient densities. The guide notes that “according to a national survey, the average bicycling trip is 3.9 miles and about 58 percent of bicycling trips are less than two miles. When residents are separated from sites such as parks, offices, and stores, there will be fewer bicycling trips because destinations are not close enough for bicycling.”

Finally, the new website also reminds users of the links between bicycling and public health. “Transportation cycling provides an opportunity for people to incorporate physical activity into daily life. Since cycling is accessible, affordable, and achievable by people of all ages, the challenge is to find ways to increase cycling in the population. Bicycle commuting has been shown to be an activity that meets recommended intensity levels and to be related to lower rates of obesity.”

For the more technical minded, the website provides a “crash type matrix” showing which treatment can be effective in decreasing specific types of crashes. There are also links to more than a dozen case studies from around the country, and links to resources around the web.

The website is a great tool for bicycle advocates, municipal planners, and engineers. Be sure to null.

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