State DOTs are beginning to embrace protected bike lanes

Protected bicycle lanes, which physically separate cyclists from automobile traffic using objects such as bollards or parked cars, are becoming popular among municipal transportation agencies, bicycle advocates, and less experienced cyclists. Until recently, however, cities often faced pushback from state transportation agencies. Now a growing number of state DOTs are warming up to protected bike lanes and some are even installing them on state routes.

New study links community characteristics to bicycle ridership

A new study further confirms the impacts of land use and the built environment on bicycle ridership and explores the elasticity of bicycle ridership in relation to some of these variables. While the study’s discussion of ridership elasticity is limited, the researchers found that bicycle ridership was much more sensitive to changes in average household wealth and population density than to transit accessibility.

Bicycle data: Filling the gaps

A decade’s worth of data now shows bicycle commuting and trip-making continuing to rise around the nation. And yet, by most measures, funding and infrastructure for bicycles have not kept pace. Neither have data collection and analysis. Recognizing the problems associated with missing data, transportation, researchers, and independent enthusiasts are all stepping up to fill that gap.

Illinois releases its first comprehensive statewide bicycle plan

In April, the Illinois DOT released its first statewide bike plan, marking an important milestone both in ramping up its comprehensive planning efforts and in becoming a more multimodal transportation agency. The bike plan was released as a supplemental chapter to the state’s long-range plan. Both documents provide guidance for the agency in achieving its newly adopted strategic vision, which calls for “all modes [to] be integrated, coordinated, planned, and built with the idea that present and future travel options are user focused, economically supportive, ecologically sensitive, and information centric.”

CDOT study tests methodology for systematic bicycle traffic measurement

As bicycling and walking have become more popular methods of transportation, cities and states are searching for better techniques for estimating traffic from these non-motorized modes. Both on individual corridors and throughout transportation systems, traffic volumes are essential for planning and performance measures. But measuring non-motorized traffic can be more difficult than counting cars and trucks, so new techniques are needed to estimate traffic patterns. Colorado DOT worked with researchers at the University of Colorado-Denver to establish Colorado-specific methodologies for estimating bicycle and pedestrian volumes via a limited sample of existing counts.

America’s Rails with Trails: A Resource for Planners, Agencies, and Advocates on Trails Along Active Railroad Corridors (Rails to Trails Conservancy, 2013)

Instead of converting former rail lines to multi-use trails, states and municipalities are also finding that trails can be built alongside active rail lines. This report examines the characteristics of 88 rails-with-trails in 33 states, based on a survey of trail managers and the results of ongoing study over the past 20 years.

Oregon DOT promotes Drive Less Challenge

On October 21, Oregon Department of Transportation and its regional transportation partners launched the first statewide Oregon Drive Less Challenge. The immediate goal of the campaign is to reduce statewide vehicle miles traveled in single occupancy vehicles by half a million miles. The broader goal for the campaign is to raise awareness for ongoing alternative transportation programs aimed at reducing traffic congestion, environmental impacts, and other transportation system costs.