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Making Communities “Bicycle Friendly”

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... Planning is essential to integrating bicycles into a community's fabric -- and the key to successful planning is strong public involvement. This helps both to ensure that people's needs are understood and to sustain a base of public support for the kinds of changes and commitment of resources required to get the job done.

Planning for bicycles should begin by articulating the community's vision of what it would like to see. For example, a community might have as its vision that "children and adults of average bicycling ability feel comfortable riding in neighborhoods, to school and work, to visit friends, and to shopping, park and recreation facilities."

The next step is to develop a set of policies and a plan to implement the community's vision. In some communities "bicycle advisory committees" can be created to help with this. See Sidebar, "Bicycle Planning in the Pacific Northwest."

The local comprehensive plan should include a set of bicycle policies, and identify specific roadway and greenway improvements, that will help accommodate bicyclists. Related documents, such as local transportation, open space, and recreation plans, offer additional opportunities to call for improved bicycling facilities.

In many metropolitan areas, local jurisdictions also participate in a regional transportation planning process through a Metropolitan Planning Organization ("MPO"). New federal transportation legislation requires that new transportation plans and programs include consideration of bicycling as a mode of transportation. Similar requirements extend to state transportation agency programs. Local planning commissions and bicycle advisory committees should work with their MPOs to ensure that policies supportive of bicycling are incorporated into regional and state transportation plans.

Another important step that planning commissions can take is to see that local ordinances, regulations, and standards help bring about the improvements needed in roadways, and the dedication and development of new greenway facilities. Site plan, subdivision and zoning ordinances all can require various types of improvements and developer dedications to help foster better bicycling opportunities. See Sidebar, Developer Dedications. A community's public facilities manual and roadway design standards should be reviewed and revised, as needed, to ensure that they reflect the latest thinking in the design of streets, highways, and multi-use trails to accommodate bicycles. ...

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