We can have safer roads for bicycling -- if transportation planners and engineers, bicycle riders, and drivers accept appropriate responsibilities for
making communities safer. The Bicycle Federation of America has developed a four point plan to make our communities bicycle friendly -- four points aimed at making roads better and drivers and bicyclists smarter.
- Good roads. Streets and highways are designed and built to accommodate all users -- bicycle riders, pedestrians, and motor vehicles. Bicycle lanes are provided on many streets. Traffic calming techniques are used to ensure that motor vehicles operate at the appropriate speed.
- More trails. Multi-use trails are developed on rights-of-way, and have few, if any, at grade crossing of streets. Abandoned railroad rights-of-way are used extensively to provide good trails. Children and casual adult riders have good places to develop riding skills and to ride together socially.
- Better drivers Motor vehicle operators act responsibly and with due care and respect for other users of the streets and highways. Speeding, running red lights, and other forms of aggressive driving are minimal. Traffic laws are routinely enforced and our courts hold drivers strictly accountable for the consequences of their actions.
- Better bicyclists. Bicyclists understand how to operate on streets and in traffic as vehicles (bicycles are defined as vehicles in all 50 states). They obey traffic laws and law enforcement activities are used to ensure compliance. Children get bicycle safety education and training in school. All bicyclists use appropriate safety gear.
Each of the elements of this four point plan can be addressed, in part, by improvements in ISTEA. ISTEA has provided vital support for bicycle use and bicycle safety and our findings indicate that improvements to the law can make our streets and highways better for bicyclists. To ensure that these goals are met, in the reauthorization of ISTEA Congress must:
- Double the amount of money in ISTEA that is dedicated to bicycle facilities and projects.
- Preserve and expand ISTEA's funding framework and planning provisions, especially for bicycles and pedestrians. Congress must reject proposals that would allow money from the "Enhancements" and "Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement" (CMAQ) programs (the largest source of money for bicycle use and bicycle safety) to be transferred to other programs.
- Require that all highway, road, and transit projects include appropriate accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Improve the transportation planning and implementation process to better accommodate bicycles, by ensuring that bicycle projects included in
transportation plans are implemented at least at the same rate as improvements for other modes of transportation.
- Ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians get a fair share of federal safety program dollars, and make ISTEA's safety programs responsive to the safety needs of non-motorized travelers. States should be required to allocate ISTEA safety funds to bicycle and pedestrian safety programs at a rate at least equal to the percentage of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in that state. Special emphasis should be given to funding bicycle safety education and training.
- Collect more accurate and detailed data on bicycling and walking. There is no comprehensive information on bicycle miles traveled, as there is for motor vehicle miles traveled. More information is needed about how much and how often people ride their bicycles and how these factors vary within and among differing communities. The reauthorization of ISTEA presents an ideal opportunity to correct this information vacuum.