Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on March 15, 2023
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on July 15, 2023
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2023
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports:
- The planning, design, construction, and maintenance of complete and connected bicycle networks and facilities that are safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for bicyclists with all levels of experience.
- Encouraging separated and protected lanes for use by bicyclists.
With the installation of bikeshare programs, introduction of electric and cargo bicycles, and investment in bicycle facilities, the willingness of people in the U.S. to ride a bicycle as a mode of travel is projected to grow in the coming years. The growth in the number of people cycling in the U.S., however, has been followed by an increase in the number of bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries on our roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of bicyclists killed in motor-vehicle traffic crashes increased from 846 in 2019 to 938 in 2020, a 10.8 percent increase while accounting for 2.4 percent of all traffic fatalities. Bicycle facilities, such as separated and protected lanes may minimize conflict between bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, reduce the risk of crashes, and offer a safe, convenient, and easy to navigate trip.
Roadway and neighborhood designs that provide facilities for safe and convenient bicycle networks are needed both to reduce injuries and deaths in people biking and to increase the viability of bicycling as a transportation mode. At both the individual and the community levels, biking is a source of physical activity, which offers a low cost, non-polluting, and highly efficient alternative to automobile travel. In congested urban areas, biking often provides the same or better door-to-door flexibility than other modes of transportation and has recently been deployed as a first and last mile logistic solution with the emergence of cargo bicycles.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Guide for Development of Bicycle Facilities (2012) states that "all roads, streets and highways, except those where cyclists are legally prohibited, should be designed and constructed under the assumption that they will be used by bicyclists". In addition, the North American City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide aims to provides cities with “state-of-the-practice solutions that can help create complete streets that are safe and enjoyable for bicyclists.”
Bicycles offer an alternative to the automobile for many short and medium distance trips. According to 2021 information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, about 45 52% of all vehicular trips in the U.S. are three miles or less and 28% of all trips are one mile or less. In addition, where suitable facilities exist, bicycles can be readily combined with public transportation for access and egress. Yet only 1% of all miles traveled in the U.S. in 2017 was by bicycle. This is due, in part, to the lack of safe and convenient bicycle facilities. Findings from a Portland State University National Institute of Transportation research report found that construction of protected bicycle lanes increased bicycle ridership by 21% to as much as 171% and increased the safety of people biking. Lastly, protected bicycle lanes also have the potential to increase all forms of economic activity including, but not limited to retail, housing development, and tourism.
In many cases, U.S. roadways designed without appropriate bicycle facilities have resulted in an inconvenient and threatening environment for cyclists. The safety of cyclists could be improved by designing, constructing, and maintaining accessible and interconnected bicycle facilities, particularly at intersections and interchanges.
This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 436
First Approved in 1995