Under Pressure, AASHTO Withdraws Objection to Stronger Bike-Ped Rules

The Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is withdrawing its opposition to an important federal policy change that puts cyclists and pedestrians on a more equal footing with motorists.

Should infrastructure like bike lanes come standard on transportation projects that receive federal funding? AASHTO is reconsidering its opposition to an FHWA policy that makes accommodating bikes and pedestrians the rule, not the exception. Photo: ##http://agitcorp.com/st-claude-ave-bike-lane-maiden-voyage/## Agit Corp##

Active transportation groups were outraged earlier this month when AASHTO requested that the FHWA revert to an old standard that required state DOTs show only that “due consideration” had been given to the needs of cyclists and pedestrians in federally financed transportation projects. A newer requirement increased the standard to “due accommodation,” shifting the burden on transportation agencies to demonstrate that extreme circumstances prevent the inclusion of bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

In his statement Friday, AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley said the agency’s request was meant “to streamline the effort and paperwork required to justify why bicycle or pedestrian facilities may or may not be appropriate on a given federal aid project.” But he added that the group would withdraw the request in light of opposition that emerged after the League of American Bicyclists, this blog and other bike advocates took up the issue.

Horsley said that since that time several state DOT chiefs also came out against the request, including Matthew Garrett of the Oregon DOT.

“In response to the concerns expressed by several members of AASHTO’s Board of Directors, President [Susan] Martinovich has directed AASHTO for the time being to withdraw its request that FHWA rescind its guidance on the meaning of ‘due consideration’ of bicycle and pedestrian needs,” said Horsley. “This will give AASHTO an opportunity to meet with bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups on May 19 to discuss this issue.”

Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists is planning to attend the meeting. He says he’s glad AASHTO is warming to the idea that all transportation projects should begin with the idea of including bicycles and pedestrians in the plan “rather than ‘we’re not going to include bike stuff unless someone makes us.'”

Clarke said AASHTO’s backpedaling is an important demonstration of the collective power of bicycle and pedestrian advocates.

“I’m glad we called them on it,” he said. “I’m glad they heard a good deal of dissent.”

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

U.S. DOT to Publish Its Own Manual on Protected Bike Lanes

|
Before the end of this year, the Federal Highway Administration will release its own guidance on designing protected bike lanes. The agency’s positions on bicycling infrastructure has matured in recent years. Until recently, U.S. DOT’s policy was simple adherence to outdated and stodgy manuals like AASHTO’s Green Book and FHWA’s own Manual on Uniform Traffic […]

NYC Gets Its First-Ever Physically-Separated Bike Path

|
The Department of Transportation revealed plans for New York City’s first-ever physically-separated bike lane, or "cycle track," at a Manhattan Community Board 4 meeting last night. The new bike path will run southbound on Ninth Avenue from W. 23rd to W. 16th Street in Manhattan. Unlike the typical Class II on-street bike lane in which […]

AASHTO: New Rule Makes it Too Hard to Ignore Cyclists and Pedestrians

|
For years, state DOTs have exploited a loophole of federal government policy that allowed them to build massive, publicly funded projects without accommodating non-motorized users as long as they could show that “due consideration” had been given to bicyclists and pedestrians. But last year, USDOT gave that requirement some teeth. USDOT issued a directive specifying […]

Feds to Traffic Engineers: Use Our Money to Build Protected Bike Lanes

|
The Federal Highway Administration wants to clear the air: Yes, state and local transportation agencies should use federal money to construct high-quality biking and walking infrastructure. State and local DOTs deploy an array of excuses to avoid building designs like protected bike lanes. “It’s not in the manual” is a favorite. So is “the feds won’t fund that.” Whether […]

Research Bolsters Case for Cycle Tracks While AASHTO Updates Guide

|
For decades, dueling camps of cycling advocates have feuded about how to best accommodate riders. Some have pushed for the construction of Dutch-style cycle tracks, arguing that separated lanes make bicycling safer and less intimidating, while others have insisted such infrastructure isolates riders and makes cycling more dangerous than simply remaining within the flow of […]