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Policy Statement 436 - Incorporating Bicycle Facilities Into Transporation Planning and Design

 

Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on February 28, 2017
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on June 4, 2017
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 29, 2017

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of complete and connected bicycle networks. Integration of bicycle facilities is a key element in the design of a sustainable transportation infrastructure. To the extent practicable, bicycle facilities should be protected and/or separated from motor vehicle traffic. 

Issue

With the installation of bicycle sharing programs and investment in bicycle facilities, more people are biking as a form of transportation. However, with the growth in the number of people biking, the number of fatalities and serious injuries has also increased. In 2015, 818 people died in the U.S. while biking in crashes involving motor vehicles. In addition, there is an underdeveloped potential mode share for bicycling in the U.S. compared with almost every other industrialized country in the world.

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. For many individuals, bicycle transportation offers a low cost, non-polluting, and highly efficient alternative to the automobile that promotes health and fitness. As congestion increases in urban area, bicycle transportation provides the same or better door-to-door flexibility than other modes of transportation. Shifting a greater percentage of the nation's travel to bicycles would reduce reliance on fossil fuels and the automobile and the need to provide facilities for motorized vehicles. It would also lessen greenhouse gas emissions. 

Rationale

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". 

Bicycles offer an alternative to the automobile for many short and medium distance trips. About 63% of all vehicular trips in the United States are less than five miles in length and 40% are less than two miles . The average cyclist could make the five-mile trip in 30 minutes and the two-mile trip in less than 15 minutes. Additionally, where suitable facilities exist, bicycles can be readily combined with public transportation to extend the reach of both modes. Yet, less than one half of one percent of all trips in the United States are currently made by bicycle. This is due, in part, to the lack of safe and convenient bicycle facilities. Findings from a Portland State University's National Institute of Transportation research report found that construction of protected bike lanes increased bicycle ridership by 21% to as much as 171% and increased the safety of people biking in the U.S. 

In many cases, U.S. roadways designed without appropriate bicycle facilities bicycling in mind have resulted in an inconvenient, unsafe, and threatening environment for people biking. With improved application of bicycle facilities, particularly at intersections and interchanges, safety could be significantly improved for people biking. 

ASCE Policy Statement 436
First Approved in 1995

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