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Designing a road project is very complex, in part because of applicable standards, guidelines and policies. Advocates may need to familiarize themselves with some of the rules and details from these documents. At a minimum, bicycling advocates should be conversant with the AASHTO Bike Guide. Some or all of the following are referenced on all projects.

Agency or OrganizationStandards, Guidelines, Policies or Ordinances Governing the Design of Road Projects
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

National standards-setting body made up of state department of transportation (DOT) officials
Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (the Bike Guide):
  • National guidelines for recommended bicycling facilities along roadways
  • Currently under major revision with substantially expanded version due shortly
  • VDOT has adopted the current guide for design and it is widely available online
A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (the Green Book):
  • Guidelines for the geometric and functional design of roads and highways
Transportation Research Board (TRB)

Division of the National Research Council
Highway Capacity Manual (HCM):
  • National guidelines for the design of roads
  • Currently under final revision with revised version due 2010
  • Additional bicycling details to be integrated into the revised design chapters Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD):
  • National standards for installation of all traffic control devices (signs, signals, markings
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Division of the United States Department of Transportation
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD):
  • National standards for installation of all traffic control devices (signs, signals, markings)
  • Newly revised (late 2009) containing new bicycle signs and markings
  • VDOT is expected to adopt the new version within two years
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

Civil rights law
Accessibility Guidelines:
  • Prohibit discrimination based on disability
  • Ensure new or altered facilities are usable and readily accessible by persons with disabilities
  • ADA accessible features such as curb ramps benefit bicyclists
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

Agency responsible for building and maintaining most roads in Virginia
Engineering Design Manuals:
  • VDOT has many detailed manuals for road design, traffic engineering, bridges and tunnels
  • Additional design-related information includes access management regulations, secondary street design, and context sensitive design policy
  • Copies of all these documents are available on the VDOT website (
Policy for Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations:
  • Adopted by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in 2004
  • All highway projects are initiated with the presumption that bicycling will be accommodated
  • Serves as Virginia’s Complete Street Policy
Statewide Bicycle Policy Plan:
  • New document, currently in development, not yet available
County, City or Town

Local administrative authority
Engineering Design Manuals or Local Public Works Facilities Manual:
  • Available at local department of transportation or department of public works
Comprehensive Plan:
  • Serves as a formal blueprint for the community goals and objectives
  • Enables officials and the public to anticipate and deal with community changes
Subdivision and Site Plan Regulations:
  • Set minimum standards for design and construction of residential and commercial development, including streets and shared-use paths
Zoning Ordinance:
  • Legislative means by which all aspects of land use are controlled
Bicycle Master Plan:
  • Describes the local plan and strategy to accommodate and encourage bicycling
  • Must be adopted to become an officially recognized plan by VDOT
Trails Plan:
  • Locally adopted plan or map identifying location and type of future trails

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Guide for Reviewing Public Road Design and Bicycling Accommodations for Virginia Bicycling Advocates