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Policy Statement 436 - Incorporating Bicycle Facilities Into Transportation Systems

 

Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on February 20, 2020
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 11, 2020
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 11, 2020 

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of complete and connected bicycle networks. Integrated of bicycle facilities is are a key element in the design of a sustainable transportation infrastructure. Wherever possible, 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 2018, there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States (U.S.), and the number of bicycle (and pedestrian) deaths in the U.S. is increasing at a faster pace than deaths of those in 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 also to increase the viability of bicycling as a transportation mode. For many individuals, bicycles offer a low cost, non-polluting, and highly efficient alternative to the automobile that promotes health and fitness. In congested urban areas, bicycle transportation often 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. 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". In addition, the North American City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide provides "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. About 45% of all vehicular trips in the U.S. are three miles or less and 21% of all trips are one mile or less. The average cyclist could make the six-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, 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'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. 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 people biking. With improved application of bicycle facilities, particularly at intersections and interchanges, safety could be significantly improved for bicycle users. 

This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 436
First Approved in 1995


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