U.S. DOT envisions trails can be part of core transportation networks - Mobility Lab

Historically, the mission of the U.S. Department of Transportation has been about moving cars. But that mission has expanded.

In 2010, the DOT signed into law a policy statement noting that “every transportation agency has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling.”

In 2015, former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx went further, launching a Safer People, Safer Streets initiative “responding to the trend of increasing bicycle and pedestrian fatalities,” said Laura Toole of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) during a recent webinar about best practices for local officials and planners on constructing trails.

Christopher Douwes, also of the FHWA, said that his agency is using “a data-driven approach to inform and encourage evidence-based decision-making.” Connecting networks and applying the massive data at our fingertips have become the holy grail of contemporary mobility, and this webinar, and the resources it pointed to, help make that possible.

The webinar, hosted by American Trails and titled Connecting Communities: Integrating Transportation and Recreation Networks, helped showcase the FHWA’s plethora of publications to advance biking and walking as part of our multimodal networks.

By now, planners have multiple best practices at their disposal for creating walkable, bikable networks that benefit all kinds of people, connect communities, and use modern technology. Funding is even available from the U.S. DOT. Still more information and training is available on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center website. And activists can use these tools, too, to push for their favorite projects.

There is no reason to simply dream – it is now viable to go out and build a hiker-biker paradise.

New thinking on trail use

If a bike trail has traditionally been considered a recreational amenity, the new thinking considers it part of transportation – and even deconstructs the difference between recreation and transportation. Either term applies to a bike ride to a park, said Douwes, adding that it’s getting you somewhere and you may even stop for a purchase along the way.

Click here to read the full article: https://mobilitylab.org/2017/10/05/u-s-dot-envisions-trails-can-part-core-transportation-networks/