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Friday, August 01 2014 @ 01:52 PM UTC

Alert: AASHTO wants to weaken US DOT bicycle accommodation policy from the League of American Bicyclists

Biking in MarylandNote: this alert is now old, please do not act.

Bike Portland has some wonderful coverage on this topic, with this update from Kit Keller, the Executive Director of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals:
"AASHTO officials seem to be oblivious to blossoming interest and innovation of local governments across the land that want walkable, bicycle-friendly communities. AASHTO's recent pronouncement contributes to a growing sense of the irrelevance and irrationality of applying state mandates to local road conditions and needs. Hence the development of new tools like the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide."

Please take action
Update: Please consider bicyclists on ALL road projects

Jim Titus just told me that he is having a constructive dialogue with SHA about MD-564 and that the email from SHA to Jim that I quoted (provided to me by someone else) was SHA’s response to Jim’s question about whether the final decision was made by officials in Baltimore or Greenbelt. Jim added: “Although I objected to a particular re-routing of the through lane over what had been the shoulder, SHA has not slammed the door on the suggested mitigation, which would be to put sharrows along all of the conflict points between Lanham and Bowie. The problem now is that the road has a combination of a good shoulder most of the way, with occasional choke points that lack the striping and signs necessary to inform cyclists and drivers the appropriate route for bicycles using the full lane. MD-564 is a perfect example of why Maryland needs to adopt the use of R4-11 signs and start using sharrows.” The R4-11 signs say “Bicycles May Use Full Lane”. “The nearby Glenn Dale Citizens Association has also asked SHA to install sharrows and R4-11 signs in this area.”

Glenn Dale Citizens Association Letter to SHA


But theLeague of American Bicyclists Take Action is still very much appropriate.

Previous Alert:
[B' Spokes: Let me highlight the importance of this alert by quoting a bit from a recent message from SHA [with clarifications in square brackets.] "The SHA's District Three traffic engineering staff has completed its review, and would like to share the findings with you. The MD 564 corridor is not a designated bike route and as such, no waivers [or justification] were required for the [creating a barrier to bicycling] modifications which recently occurred at Louise Street [even though it is against State law § 2-602.]"

Do I need to point out that the States designated bike routes came about by SHA trying to accommodate bicycles on ALL projects (the point of this alert) and the implication by SHA District 3 that our designated bike routes will not ever be expanded (because the road is not a designated bike route so therefore we will never consider bicyclists.)

AASHTO Overview

AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It represents all five transportation modes: air, highways, public transportation, rail, and water.


Note the lack of mention of bicycling. Further points that AASHTO tends to go off on the "more highways" deep end see: Promoting car centricity on Facebook - epic fail and Commentary on AASHTO testimony before congress.

In summary: MDOT needs to RETURN to its policy that ALL projects accommodate bicyclists or get a waver AND ALL Federal funded projects accommodate bicyclists or get a waver. From FHWA Policy Maintaining access to the transportation system for nonmotorized users is not an optional activity. So copy and paste the following in front of LAB's text in their alert. (scroll down)


I am writing to request a correction to SHA District Three's error in stating that MD 564 corridor projects do not need a waver in accommodating bicyclists and
Or use our letter after the fold

from the League of American Bicyclists
AASHTO wants to weaken US DOT bicycle accommodation policy
Contact Your State Department of Transportation
 

On Friday, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) released a letter and supplemental document, which asked the US Department of Transportation to weaken their guidance on accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians. The supplemental document, submitted as part of a formal review of regulations, asks that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) withdraw their guidance on the meaning of “due consideration” of bicyclists and pedestrians to make it easier for states to ignore the needs of non-motorized travelers. AASHTO prefers the weaker “consider where appropriate” to allow states to avoid having to justify failure to accommodate bicycling and walking.

 

This request is misguided. At a time when cities are building entire bicycling networks for the cost of one mile of urban four-lane freeway, bike projects are putting people to work, and benefiting business, this is not the time to move backwards. When more and more states – 23 and counting – are embracing Complete Streets policies, AASHTO should be a leading voice in shaping holistic and comprehensive transportation systems, not resisting them. In fact, AASHTO’s own 12 year-old Bicycle Guide, due to be up dated this year, says that bicyclists and pedestrians can be expected on any roadway they are legally allowed to operate and therefore should be accommodated.

 

To: bswaim-staley@mdot.state.md.us

Beverley Swaim-Staley,

The League of American Bicyclists has put out an alert to insure: 
Maintaining access to the transportation system for nonmotorized users is not an optional activity. - FHWA Policy

This is very similar to State Policy § 2-602:
 The General Assembly finds that it is in the public interest for the State to include enhanced transportation facilities for pedestrians and bicycle riders as an essential component of the State's transportation system, and declares that it is the policy of the State that: 
(1) Access to and use of transportation facilities by pedestrians and bicycle riders shall be considered and best engineering practices regarding the needs of bicycle riders and pedestrians shall be employed in all phases of transportation planning, including highway design, construction, reconstruction, and repair as well as expansion and improvement of other transportation facilities;
(2) The modal administrations in the Department shall ensure that the State maintains an integrated transportation system by working cooperatively to remove barriers...

So I was a bit shocked to see
"The SHA's District Three traffic engineering staff has completed its review, and would like to share the findings with you. The MD 564 corridor is not a designated bike route and as such, no waivers [or justification] were required for the [creating a barrier to bicycling] modifications which recently occurred at Louise Street [even though it is against State law § 2-602.]" - Felecia Murphy

So I respectfully request correcting this error returning to the old policy where ALL road projects are requires to accommodate bicyclists or get a waver. As well as contacting the AASHTO President Susan Martinovich, to let her know that you disagree with the recommendation urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to weaken their guidance on bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.

Respectfully,

1.4 Definition of Negative Impact
Negative impact to bicycling is described as the permanent reduction or elimination of existing bicycle accommodations. The following examples clarify the definition of “negative impact” to bicycling:
• Existing roadway conditions that exceed SHA’s preferred widths should not be reduced to widths below the preferred widths. (Ex. An existing 10 foot wide shoulder may be reduced but not below the preferred 4 foot width.)
• Existing roadway conditions that are less than SHA’s preferred widths should not be reduced. (Ex. A 3 foot wide shoulder is below the preferred 4 foot width and therefore should not be reduced.)
• No project shall eliminate a shoulder on any roadway where bicycles are permitted to operate and where the maximum posted speed limit is more than 50 miles per hour. By Maryland state law bicyclists are prohibited from operating on any roadway (travel lane) where the posted maximum speed limit is over 50 mph. Cycling is permitted however on shoulders. Eliminating the shoulder would eliminate bicycle access.
• No project shall permanently eliminate existing bicycle access unless a reasonable alternate route exists or reasonable alternate access will be included in the proposed project. Reasonable alternate routes will be determined by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator.


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