Shared Use Facilities
"Shared Use" or "Multi-Use" facilities are those where bicyclists share a facility with pedestrians and other non-motorized modes of travel such as equestrians, cross country skiers, in-line skaters, baby strollers, and those using motorized scooters and wheelchairs. These facilities are commonly referred to as 'trails' outside of a roadway right-of-way, and 'sidepaths' when located inside the road right-of-way.
Use restricted trails are commonly recreation related and located outside of the roadway right-of-way. The use restriction is generally created by the narrow width and steep grades of the path which limit the use to one user type (typically pedestrians within homeowner association maintained or hiking trails), but may also be limited to equestrians and/or mountain bikers to reduce potential user conflicts as determined by recreational programming.
Both of these facility types provide for a safe means of transport for both transportation and recreation purposes away from vehicular traffic and are valuable commodities contributing to the health and well-being of any community in which they are located.
This design element refers to both multi-use and use restricted paths applicable to both bicyclists and/or pedestrians.
Multi-Use trails typically have a hard surface (e.g., asphalt, concrete, compacted gravel, etc.) and have a recommended width per AASHTO of 10', although a minimum width of 8' may be used where space is constrained or in environmentally sensitive areas. Wider paths are also recommended if there is a high volume of existing or anticipated bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
Sidepaths are a subset of shared use paths that denote paths that run adjacent to a parallel roadway and can provide bicycle connections between on- and off -road facilities. Due to being located either within or directly adjacent to the roadway right-of-way with the potential for multiple vehicular crossings, these facilities often require a more in-depth operational and safety analysis.
Use-restricted trails are those that limit the allowable user groups based on one or more of the following factors: grades, surfacing, widths, potential user-conflict, ownership, and/or programming.
Steep grades of more than 8.33% limit universal (ADA) accessibility. Surfacing other than a smooth hard surface such as concrete or asphalt may not only limit ADA accessibility, but also certain bicyclists, in-line skaters,persons with baby strollers and those using other wheeled human-propelled transportation. Use-restricted trails can be narrower than the minimum standard for a multi-use trail (less than 8 feet wide). The width is a limiting factor towards the capacity of the trail to safely accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists (or in-line skating, equestrians, and other uses) resulting in the potential for user conflict. This is why the most common restriction for these trails is for pedestrian use only. These trails can be hiking only, equestrian only, mountain biking only, or a combination thereof. Trails that may be used by potentially conflicting user groups may be managed through programming. For example, trails intended for both equestrian and mountain biking use may alternate days for when these user groups will have access to the trail system. Other programming limitations may be relative to ownership, such as trail systems that are privately developed and managed by homeowners association that may limit who and what user types will have access to their trails.
Use-restricted trails would be the most common trail standard to be developed as part of an internal trail system associated with a planned residential development. The minimum width for a multi-use trail (8 feet) may not be warranted or desired by the developer or residents of those communities. While the CCPC encourages the development of trails to the multi-use standard wherever possible, the minimum width for trails to be developed as part of a planned residential development should be 5 feet, the same standard as for internal walkways.
A mid-block crossing permits pedestrians to cross a road at a location other than an intersection. These crossings require special engineering analysis to determine their appropriateness and effectiveness. Section 11.9 of the PennDOT Traffic Engineering Manual (Pub. 46) establishing criteria for mid-block crossings including roadway speed limit, traffic volume, sight distance, parking restrictions, proximity to other crossings, and pedestrian volume.
With some exceptions based on the specific conditions of any location, the following are PennDOT's general minimum requirements for the installation of a mid-block crossing:
- The posted speed limit is 35 mph or less.
- The nearest marked crosswalk on the same roadway is over 300 feet from the proposed crossing.
- The minimum number of pedestrians crossing the street within 150 feet of the proposed crossing during an average day should be 80 or more during any 1 hour, or 40 or more during each of any 4 hours.
- The maximum traffic volume on the roadway is 10,000 ADT (average daily traffic), except on two-lane roadways the maximum traffic volume may be 15,000 ADT.
- Parking is not permitted within 75 feet of the crosswalk, unless a curb extension is in place to improve pedestrian visibility.
- Must meet sight distance criteria based on existing grades.
PennDOT encourages these same criteria for locally owned roadways. For state-owned roads, a mid-block crosswalk engineering and traffic study is required to record the study's findings.
- Follow the recommendations of PennDOT Design Manual 2- Chapter 16: Bicycle Facilities and AASHTO's Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities for bicycle only or multi-use/shared use facilities design.
- For pedestrian only facilities design, follow the recommendations of PennDOT Design Manual 2- Chapter 6: Pedestrian Facilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act and AASHTO's Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities.
- For mid-block crossing, follow the requirements of Section 11.9 of the PennDOT Traffic Engineering Manual (Pub. 46)
- Municipalities should consider amending their zoning and subdivision and land development ordinances to include definitions for bicycle and pedestrian facilities and clarify these terms across municipal borders. It may also be necessary to delete conflicting definitions and replace wording as appropriate throughout all municipal ordinances.
- Municipalities should incorporate planning for bicycle/pedestrian facilities in comprehensive plan updates or amendments, special studies and/or official maps.
- Municipalities should require the identification and maintenance of existing trails (both shared and use restricted) and establishment of additional trails and connections in new development. There are a number of ways to protect existing trails and establish new trails through ordinances. The following are key points that should be included in ordinances for trail requirements:
- The standard width of any proposed multi-use trail should be 10 feet with a minimum width of 8 feet. Widths less than 8 feet should consider use restrictions based on projected users. The absolute minimum width for use-restricted trails should be 5 feet, the same as internal walkways.
- Subdivision and land development ordinances should require the identification of existing trails and/or recreational needs or impacts (preliminary plan requirements, impact assessments, conservation plan requirements) as part of the land development process.
- Logically continue, link or expand existing pedestrian facilities on, across and abutting the site consistent with the [Official Map, Improvements Plan Map, Comprehensive Plan, etc.]. The applicant may be requested to provide an easement dedicated to the municipality with connections to abutting properties that will enable the future continuation of the pedestrian network.
- Ordinance requirements should protect existing trails or allow for the realignment of existing trails on a site.
- There should be requirements for the identification and establishment of new trails as appropriate to connect to adjacent existing or planned facilities such as public bus or train stops or stations, public parks, community facilities, commercial areas, or higher density residential developments.
- Existing trails to be realigned, or new trail alignments should be installed prior to the construction of buildings or other structures on a site. Identification and establishment of trails may be required by either the zoning or subdivision and land development ordinance, or a combination of both.
- As appropriate, provide for the continued ownership and maintenance of trails and trail easements by having them dedicated to the public sector, donated to a private conservation organization, or placed under the care of a community association.
- PennDOT Design Manual 2 - Chapter 16: Bicycle Facilities
- PennDOT Design Manual 2 - Chapter 6: Pedestrian Facilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act
- PennDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Checklist - Design Process
- PennDOT - Smart Transportation Guidebook
- PennDOT - Bicycle and Pedestrian Information Page
- American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)- Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities
- American Association of State Highway and transportation Officials (AASHTO)- Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities
- U.S. DOT - Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guidance
- FHWA Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
- Chester County Trail and Path Planning Guide
- PennDOT Pedestrian Facilities Pocket Guide