Sunday, February 15, 2015

National Policy Impacts Local Biking

There are two recent publications put out by the US DOT that are worth knowing about, especially if you are involved or interested in improving bike facilities. Reports from the federal level are important because they have real implications at the state and local level.

The Federal Highways Administration, which is a part of the USDOT, published a guide to help state and local official determine if a road diet is the right facility for roads in a community. The Road Diet Informational Guide is a great, timely resource that can be used to help decision makers examine and determine if changing a road is the right thing do to. A road diet is idea that by reducing the number of vehicular lanes, and adding facilities for bicyclists (bike lane or cyclepath) and pedestrians (sidewalks and street furniture), the corridor can be a better facility for other modes of transportation than just cars and trucks.

One of my favorite images of a road diet.

There are so many benefits to road diets. The guide is great because there's an honest look at the places where road diets should and should not be considered. It even gets into some technical operational features like average daily traffic, safety considerations, turning volumes and patterns. This kind of treatment has been considered for parts Old Greenville Hwy in Clemson, and has been used on North Main Street in Greenville. If your community is considering road diets, the guide is a great resource to refer to.

US DOT has put out their view thirty years out to 2045 in what traffic will look like via air travel, vehicular traffic, trucking transport and other modes. Beyond Traffic:  US DOT's 30 Year Framework for the Future is a paper on the next policy framework that will guide the Department of Transportation's programs, policies and funding.

The paper is organized around six straight forward questions that addresses how will we might move and adapt to a changing world. Examining trends and forecasts, there's some insight as to what the future may bring. The paper highlights the predication that traffic will increase between 23% - 28% in 30 years if nothing changes. Interestingly, transit only accounts for about 2% of trips, but, if public transit were removed in the 15 largest metropolitan regions, congestion would go up about 24%! (That would mean a 50% increase in congestion in 30 years if buses and light rail is not supported!) Though biking makes up less than 1% of trips people take across the country, the number of people who are biking has doubled in the last decade. And in the next 30 years cities have already planned tens of thousands of new bikeways! What a case and exciting future the USDOT has made for alternative forms of transportation!

US DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx (who served as Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor) is sharing this vision with the public, and is making giving input an easy thing to do. There's a twitter and instagram hashtag #beyondtraffic that you can track or participate in the conversation. The future of transportation is a pretty interesting picture. It's kinda a wake up call. Take a look at some of the trends and statics from the USDOT blue paper.

This is how we might move.

This is how we might move better.

How might we adapt to a changing world?
Take some time to consider what the future may look like, and how that might affect you and your family's daily life. If you feel so moved, consider sharing your insights and thoughts with the USDOT. They could surely use input from those in the Upstate of South Carolina.

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