Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NACTO's Urban Bikeway Design Guide

Ever wonder where bicycle paths, lanes, signs and other amenity designs come from? Local officials, planners and advocates typically collaborate to decide what works best for their community, but there are organizations and documents that provide guidance when designing bike facilities.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials, or NACTO, has recently released the Urban Bikeway Design Guide through their Cities for Cycling Initiative. This document is a collection of bikeway best practices from a group of national and international bike planning experts. 

NACTO is an organization for large central cities across the US to engage in dialogue, exchange ideas and share resources as related to transportation issues at the local level. NACTO started in 1996 as a means for large (think NYC, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Minneapolis)  local governments to talk about their transportation issues in a more meaningful manner. Since the DOT's policies were lead by the Federal government, and executed at the State level, local governments across the country had few means to address their concerns. The USDOT, AASHTO, APTA and PTI supported the establishment of NACTO.

The Urban Bikeway Design Guide is an important document to any city, university or community that is developing a bike plan and implementing bike facilities. The Guide's website is easy to navigate, and the guide has a ton of information. It was developed so any advocate or planning professional would be able understand the photos, matrices, diagrams and text in an easy to follow format. Just like any comprehensive guide, I would recommend taking some time to peruse the pages before diving in. There's information on:

So, why is this important, you may ask? Why do we need some big 'ole document telling us what to do? It's just as important to have this as it is to have the guidelines for our other transportation networks. Engineers and designs built our railroads, waterways (think big ships and ports, rivers, or even recreational lakes and streams), airports, bus terminals and roadway system. They are developing our bikeways, too.

Our transportation and recreation systems will be enhanced by local leaders learning from the experience of the bike pioneers. Commuters and recreational riders will benefit from safely designed paths. Cars, trucks and other roadway traffic will flow better with bikeways that are more identifiable and defined. Overall, this guide helps commuters, engineers and local officials plan for and execute a safe, comprehensive transportation system - locally (of course!)

Take some time to review the guide, website and its recommendations. Feel free to post a comment here and let me know what you think.

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