The purpose of this guide is to help bicycle advocates review transportation projects to ensure that bicycle facilities are included in the design. The construction, retrofit or expansion of a public road involves many steps by local, regional and state governmental agencies. In a complicated process that can extend over many years, these agencies make critical planning, design and budgeting decisions that shape the new facilities that become part of the overall transportation system. Advocates can influence this process in many ways.
The design of Virginia’s road transportation system affects the daily life of its residents. Governmental agencies encourage full citizen participation in the design process. Bicycling advocates can engage in every step from planning through construction by adding their comments and ideas. Early and continued participation in the project development process helps ensure that bicycling needs are addressed to the fullest extent possible. By paying close attention to the details of the design process, advocates can request specific changes that accommodate bicyclists. Advocates can and do influence the outcome of the final design.
A new public road project is an important opportunity for creating a bicycle-friendly community and adding to the bicycling network. Decades could pass before any construction is again proposed. Including bicycling accommodations in an integrated fashion when a road is undergoing design is less expensive and technically easier than doing so after the project is built. Advocates can make a difference and leave a legacy by getting changes to the future plans.
No one has a one-size-fits-all answer. Engineers have a diverse array of designs at their disposal and must consider many factors for each particular location. Virginia bicyclists live in rural, suburban, urban and small town areas with many different needs and traffic situations. All designs have advantages and disadvantages, and bicyclists have different preferences depending on their age, ability and comfort level. Advocates can follow the advances in bicycling facility design that are taking place nationally so as to make the best suggestions for the local situation.
This guide provides advice on when and how to engage in the design process and what issues to pursue. Advocates will need to learn how to become aware of upcoming projects in their community and to do their own local research. With that information in hand, advocates can add valuable input to the design based on their experience and understanding of bicycling. The authors hope that insights included in this guide will stimulate bicycling advocates to provide creative and thoughtful input into public road plans in their community. Additional information is included at www.fabb-bikes.org.