WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—City and state officials now have a new tool to help guide them in developing new bikeways. Called the Urban Bikeway Design Guide, the manual was unveiled at the National Bike Summit yesterday morning.
It was put together by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and contains best practices for city planners.
“We’d like the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) to recognize them as national guidelines and AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) to do the same,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and NACTO president, during the opening plenary.
NACTO, made up of representatives from 15 major U.S. cities, created the guide because its members found existing design manuals to be too rigid and inadequate in the promotion of bicycle transportation. For example, one on-street facility that the guide contains is the bike box, which makes cyclists more visible at heavily trafficked intersections. While that street treatment is used all over Europe and in 20 U.S. cities, it’s not part of the standard design guide from the FHA, said Sadik-Khan.
The first edition offers 20 designs, and information pertaining to when they should be used at www.citiesforcycling.org.
“It’s rooted in research and practical experience,” she said, using existing guidelines from cities worldwide and experience and studies from projects in the U.S.
Sadik-Khan has been leading the charge to make New York City bike-friendly. NYC has added 250 miles of new bikes lanes since 2006. “A lot of people use them; they feel safe in them,” she said.
But it’s painstaking work and some lanes, like the Prospect Park bike lane in Brooklyn, have instigated controversy and criticism. (A group filed suit earlier this week against the city to have that bike lane removed.)
Still, Sadik-Khan maintains that traffic fatalities are the lowest they’ve ever been, citing a 40 to 50 percent reduction to all users of a protected bike lane—cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. New pedestrian plazas also have boosted the local economy, she said, pointing to Times Square, which has seen retail rents increase 119 percent.
She urged advocates to continue their work as it has forced innovation and change in transportation policy and infrastructure drastically, not only in New York, but in cities across the nation. “What you have done in the last five years gives me a lot of hope,” Sadik-Khan said.
For more photos from the National Bike Summit, visit the BRAIN Facebook page.