Monday, October 4, 2010

Best Policies for Bikes and Peds

We may not like to admit it, but it's true: planners are copycats. It's not that we don't like innovative ideas--we do. It's just that we like them so much better when someone else has already gone through the political hassle of implementing them for the first time.

So it's no surprise that in our quest to identify the best policies to improve pedestrian (and bicyle) safety and walkability, we spend a lot of time looking at what others have done. And (given our love affair with all things European), it's even less of a surprise that the when the FHWA sent its team of experts out to hunt down the most effective pedestrian policies for the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Mobility International Scan it turned to Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Five key lessons/themes the group identified from its review:

1. No single “silver bullet” policy or action exists to make streets and roads safer and more conducive to pedestrians and bicyclists.

2. To achieve desired outcomes, pedestrian and bicyclist policies should clearly state a purpose and vision, as well as a way to measure progress toward the desired outcomes.

3. Several model policies and programs in the United States (e.g., in New York, NY; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC) can serve as examples and best practices for other U.S. cities and States.
4. Complete streets policies appear to be the most widely publicized policy approach used in many U.S. cities, counties, and States.
5. There are numerous examples of enabling programs and strategies that can be used to implement complete streets policies.

Not exactly earth-shattering stuff (though I think we planners can always be reminded of that first point), but the full report is a good resource for those seeking inspirational examples of Complete Streets policies nationwide.

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