Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
Streetsblog USA

With New Rule, Feds Forget Their Own Best Ideas on Street Design

3:21 PM PDT on July 30, 2015

This image is from the FHWA's own ##http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/separated_bikelane_pdg/separatedbikelane_pdg.pdf##Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide## -- but these designs aren't endorsed by the agency's new rules.
This image is from the FHWA's own ##http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/separated_bikelane_pdg/separatedbikelane_pdg.pdf##Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide## -- but these designs aren't endorsed by the agency's new rules.
false

Antiquated, car-oriented road design guidance is losing its vise grip on our cities. Other manuals are challenging the dominance of the "design bible" issued by AASHTO, the coalition of state DOTs. But the federal government might be missing an important opportunity to enshrine street safety for all modes.

Over the past few years, the Federal Highway Administration has endorsed other manuals that do include more innovative and multi-modal designs, and has even issued its own guidance for protected bike lanes. The pending Senate transportation bill also sanctions the use of alternative guides issued by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

But the new flexibility at the federal level hasn’t yet made its way into every nook and cranny of the system. In its new revision of design rules for the National Highway System, FHWA doesn’t seem to be including NACTO and ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) manuals, or even its own protected bikeway design guide, as approved engineering guides. This is a serious oversight, especially because the current transportation bill, MAP-21, dumped thousands of miles of new roads into the NHS, including arterials and main streets that aren’t what you think of when you think of highways.

In a letter to U.S. DOT, Smart Growth America expresses concern that the new rule is at odds with other department initiatives to improve bike and pedestrian safety. “The NACTO, ITE, and FHWA guides referenced above help designers create safe streets for everyone,” the letter read. “This mixed message from USDOT will make it more difficult for local and state transportation officials to partner with Secretary Foxx to further our shared priority of improving bicyclist and pedestrian safety across the country.”

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

Friday Bikeways Update: Beach Bike Path Damage, 7th Street, and More

Updates on: beach bike path in Pacific Palisades, Michigan Greenway in Santa Monica, Parthenia Place in North Hills, 7th Street Streetscape in DTLA, and Imperial Highway near LAX

March 1, 2024

Measure HLA Fact Check: Sidewalk Costs

The city says $200 million worth of annual ADA work is "included in the cost" of Measure HLA, but the city is already on the hook for that ADA work anyway, so none of it should be included as HLA costs

March 1, 2024

Supervisor Hahn Calls for No Residential Demolitions in Metro’s 710 Freeway Corridor Project

"[For 710 Freeway expansion] Metro needs to commit itself to zero residential property takes. [Metro] should have as one its top priorities ensuring that our projects do not result in kicking people out of their homes."

February 29, 2024
See all posts