Modifying Planning and Design Documents and Regulations

Policy documents

States and local units of government generally have policy documents on transportation, land use, housing, recreation, shoreline preservation, the environment and other topics. They define approaches to solving urban problems, setting priorities and providing decision making guidance. Relevant policies should be modified to include bicyclist and pedestrian considerations.

Planning documents

Most local and state governments are involved in planning. This could take the form of a single comprehensive plan or a decentralized plan that involves several documents. Typically, communities will have transportation, recreation, land use and open space plans. They may also have separate transit plans. Increasingly, these documents are being taken more seriously when making funding decisions on capital projects. It is critical to integrate pedestrian considerations into planning documents at the time they are revised or developed. One may actually want to go so far as to make sure the words pedestrian and bicycle appear on an average of once every third page of a planning document.

Roadway/street design manuals, standard plans, and specifications

State and local street design manuals and specifications define standards for designing streets and sidewalks. They are critical to bicyclists and pedestrians. Traffic control policies are also critical since they guide signal timing, channelization and signing. At a minimum, they should include designs and specifications for pedestrian and bicycle facilities from AASHTO's Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (1999) and the Guide for the Planning, Design and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities (2004). The importance of design manuals cannot be overstated. For example, simply adopting a five foot standard for sidewalks would be a major step creating a pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

Zoning codes and land use regulations

Local agencies generally have residential and commercial development zoning codes. There may also be special traffic control provisions that apply during construction. These codes and regulations should include requirements for sidewalks and paths accessible to persons of all abilities. They should include amenities such as planting strips, street trees, and public restrooms. Provisions should ensure pedestrian and bicycle safety and access during construction.