Review, Revise, and Recommend Transportation and Land Use Policies

Many of the factors that determine whether an environment supports walking and bicycling are beyond the scope of pedestrian planners and engineers. The proximity between development projects, site design characteristics, and the presence of a sidewalk or a path amidst a parking lot tends fall under the land use planning domain. Similarly, the presence and timing of traffic control signals, the width of a road, and the presence of a sidewalk may be determined by transportation or road planners and engineers.

To complicate matters, different levels of authority and jurisdictions govern transportation and land use planning. Transportation plans are regularly drawn at the regional level, often with input from state departments of transportation. Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are regional entities in larger urban areas, designated by the federal government to conduct transportation infrastructure planning, programming, and coordination. Land use plans, by contrast, are drawn at the municipal or county level.

As a result, regional transportation concerns often conflict with local land use policies, but most pedestrian and bicycle travel is local. These separate geographies create obvious conflicts, further highlighting the need for close, ongoing coordination between transportation policies, land use policies and pedestrian and bicycle planning.

Transportation policies that can be recommended to support a pedestrian plan include:

  • Modifying intersection crossings
  • Closing gaps in the sidewalk network
  • Identifying streets that are excessively wide and are candidates for road diets (narrowing the roadway to provide more space for pedestrians and bicyclists)
  • Locating areas that need traffic calming improvements
  • Re-directing traffic (making it two-way) to allow for easier pedestrian crossings
  • Redirecting a portion of parking meter fees, congestion charges or parking fees for pedestrian and bicycle improvements
  • Modifying traffic signal timing
  • Improving non-motorized access to transit stops
  • Requiring that proposed road projects in the TIP be reviewed by pedestrian and bicycle planners
  • Conducting a pedestrian and bicycle impact assessment tool for examining the effects of proposed road projects on pedestrian and bicyclists

For land use, recommended policies include:

  • Requiring that proposed development projects be reviewed by pedestrian and bicycle planners (through a referral program)
  • Encouraging the use of impact fees to pay for pedestrian infrastructure or require the concurrent building of sidewalks
  • Supporting the implementation of easements from developers for future trail development
  • Encouraging the development of walkable areas through density bonuses and/or development subsidies
  • Developing small area plans for neighborhoods or specific commercial areas
  • Relaxing minimum parking requirements in areas in which they are unnecessary

For more information on additional policies and tools for implementation visit the section Policy and Planning Strategies to Support Walking.