Community Planning Geared for Cyclists

On September 17, 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) instituted the Complete Streets Policy, stating that “it is the goal of the Department of Transportation to implement a policy that promotes safety, quality of life, and economic development in Florida.” According to the Policy, “Complete Streets shall serve the transportation needs of transportation system users of all ages and abilities, including but not limited to: cyclists, motorists, transit riders, freight handlers, [and] pedestrians.”

Each of these users has unique needs at any given transportation facility, and for each user, a transportation facility provides a unique user experience. Despite the distinctiveness of these experiences, when viewed together they create a shared experience for transportation system users. Therefore, creating an equitable shared experience starts with a comprehensive assessment of each user’s unique needs.

Gathering information about existing infrastructure and cyclist experiences is an important step toward better understanding cyclists’ behavior.

Community Planning and Understanding Cyclists’ Unique Needs

Due in part to initiatives such as FDOT’s Complete Streets Policy, increased modal share, and mounting safety concerns, cyclists have steadily earned increased attention during the community planning process. From the beginning stages of community engagement and data collection through advanced stages of policymaking and design, a number of actions can improve the cyclist’s experience. During community engagement and data collection, measures geared specifically to cycling help with later stages of the planning process. Examples of such measures include:

  • Targeting the cycling community during public outreach and stakeholder interviews.
  • Performing cycling audits to gain first-hand experience.
  • Tapping a variety of sources for cycling traffic data.

Gathering information about existing infrastructure and cyclist experiences is an important step toward better understanding cyclists’ behavior. In turn, understanding cyclists’ behavior is key to formulating appropriate, context-sensitive solutions through policy and design.

Context-Sensitive Solutions Benefit All Users

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Image courtesy of NACTO

Infrastructure solutions for cyclists range from shared-lane markings and bicycle lanes to protected cycle tracks and off-street paths. A planning process that successfully embraces cyclists as users is essential to determining which form of cycling facility is most appropriate for a community. The effects of properly implemented infrastructure solutions can have a positive effect for all users, not just cyclists. In fact, in a 2012 report published by the New York City Department of Transportation, the installation of protected bicycle lanes on 9th Avenue resulted in a 58% decrease in injuries to all street users (Measuring the Street, 2012). In addition, locally-based businesses along the 9th Avenue corridor experienced a dramatic increase in economic activity—up to a 49% increase in retail sales compared to a 3% borough-wide increase.

Community Planning Applied at GAI Consultants

GAI’s Community Solutions Group recognizes the important role that community planning for cyclists holds in pursuit of FDOT’s overall goals of promoting safety, quality of life, and economic development. Following the practices described above, we provide tailored policy, plan, and design solutions for municipal and county clients seeking to better accommodate cycling within their communities.

 


PatrickPanza_1x1Senior Planner Patrick Panza, AICP has more than ten years of experience specializing in planning, design, and policy analysis. For questions or additional information on improving cycling infrastructure through community planning, or to learn more about GAI’s planning services, contact Patrick at 407.423.8398.

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