ITE Journal - July 2020 - 38

Introducing a Bikeway Selection Process
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) supports a flexible
approach to bicycle facility design and agencies can access a variety
of design guidance from organizations like American Association
of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO),
the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and National
Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). In 2015,
FHWA released its Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide.
The new FHWA Bikeway Selection Guide complements these guides
and fills a gap for transportation agencies by providing a resource
that helps practitioners consider and make informed decisions
about design that are grounded in the reality of complex user needs,
fiscal constraints, and often limited rights-of-way.2
The Bikeway Selection Guide provides guidance for determining
the appropriate level of bicyclist separation based on factors like
roadway characteristics and traffic use (i.e., speed, volume, heavy
vehicle mix), land use, and bicyclist profile (i.e., level of comfort or
skill). The Guide also emphasizes that practitioners should consider
bicyclists' preferences and in doing so this will encourage bicycle
ridership and use of facilities. This approach stands in contrast
to decades of transportation planning and design focused on the
mobility of motor vehicles.

Guide, which was published in 1974 by the Standing Committee
on Engineering Operations. The 1974 guide included warrants for
"protected" and "unprotected" bicycle lanes and a variety of intersection treatments designed to minimize conflicts between bicyclists,
pedestrians, and motorists. However, the bicycling advocates with the
loudest voices were the ones insisting that bicyclists operate like other
drivers using a shared lane and the 1981 AASHTO Bicycle Guide
mirrored this view-bike lane warrants were dropped and protected
bicycle lanes were prohibited. Bicyclists who were more experienced
and can ride at faster speeds for longer distances, also known as
vehicular cyclists, continued to influence roadway design for much of
the middle and late 20th century.3
Through the 1980s, the primary source of funding for surface
transportation projects, including bikeways, was the gas tax. The
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991
was the first major investment and recognition of the importance
and need for active transportation facilities. ISTEA supported
research and planning for bicycle and pedestrian transportation
and mandated the National Bicycling and Walking Study, which
set goals of increasing bicycling and walking trips while decreasing
fatalities and injuries.
Despite the legislative and federal resources to promote
bicycling, key design guidance continued to echo the desires of
vehicular cyclists and their "right to the road" up until the fourth
edition of AASHTO's Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities
(2012), which reintroduced bikeways with more physical separation,
but still emphasized design for the confident bicyclist. FHWA's
Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide (2015) outlines
planning considerations for separated bike lanes and provides
design options but recognized a need for a decision support tool
to help practitioners select facilities. This is where the Bikeway
Selection Guide comes into play.

FHWA

Planning and Designing for All Ages and Abilities
Example of a bikeway, or a facility intended for bicycle travel that
designates space for bicyclists distinct from motor vehicle traffic.

A Brief History of Planning for Bicyclists
Bikeways provide a way for communities to meet the demand
for livable and accessible places while working toward achieving
community goals related to health and mobility, among others. In
fact, bicyclists were heavily involved in the Good Roads Movement,
which included advocacy for well-connected, paved streets in the late
1800s and early 1900s. Over time, due to a variety of factors, roadway
design and construction became increasingly focused on mobility for
motorists; however, with the energy crises of the 1970s, government
agencies and the public had growing interest in bicycling for
transportation. This interest is reflected in the first AASHTO Bicycle
38

J u ly 2020

ite j o urn al

Bikeway selection decisions are often part of a broader planning
process that accounts for roadway and traffic characteristics of all
modes. The community goals, transportation policies, and funding
priorities are consulted and public engagement shapes the decision.
Bikeway selection should also be informed by an understanding of
the different types of bicyclists and consideration of the relationship between a bikeway and the bicycle network. Characteristics
commonly used to classify design user profiles are comfort level,
bicycling skill and experience, age, and trip purpose. Selecting
the design user profile is often the first step in assessing a street's
compatibility for bicycling.
A study by researchers at Portland State University found that of
adults who have stated an interest in bicycling, there are three types of
potential and existing bicyclists: highly confident bicyclists, somewhat
confident bicyclists, and interested but concerned bicyclists.4 Keeping



ITE Journal - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - July 2020

ITE Journal - July 2020 - Cover1
ITE Journal - July 2020 - Cover2
ITE Journal - July 2020 - 3
ITE Journal - July 2020 - 4
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ITE Journal - July 2020 - 6
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ITE Journal - July 2020 - Cover3
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https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G102868_ITE_January2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G100155_ITE_December2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G100154_ITE_November2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G99495_ITE_October2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G98028_ITE_September2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G97366_ITE_August2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G96287_ITE_July2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G94315_ITE_June2018
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