An inviting cycletrack, just over the hill in Santa Cruz.

Great news from the feds: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a memo on August 20 that announced the agency's “support for taking a flexible approach to bicycle and pedestrian facility design.” The new endorsement could mean a bright future for bikeway designs like protected on-street bike lanes and other progressive designs that haven't been widely implemented in the U.S.

Importantly, the memo references the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) guidelines, which are generally considered more progressive that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) bicycle and pedestrian design guidelines. FHWA notes that “The vast majority of treatments illustrated in the NACTO Guide are either allowed or not precluded by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).” In other words: NACTO put a lot of thought into these guidelines, and they largely jibe with accepted standards.

What does it all mean? Well, as Streetsblog notes:

This federal endorsement is critical because protected bike lanes have yet to be officially sanctioned by the country’s most influential transportation engineering organization: the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials… The exclusion of protected bike lanes from the country’s most important engineering guide has stymied growth, since U.S. transportation engineers generally hesitate to use designs that don’t have the imprimatur of AASHTO or FHWA.

At SVBC, we love bicycle infrastructure that makes riding a bike comfortable and inviting for people of all ages and skills. This is the kind of development we like to see!