Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities: Design
Bicycle and pedestrian facilities have grown in popularity within the County over the past decade. The creation and use of bicycle and pedestrian facilities is one of the most effective techniques to reduce traffic and pollution and enhance the quality of life for residents.
"Bicycle facilities" can be defined as any facility or infrastructure that supports and enhances the safety of bicyclists. These facilities include a portion of roadway, shoulder, or right-of-way designed for exclusive or preferential use by bicyclists. "Pedestrian facilities" in this context refers to walkways, sidewalks, paths, and trails that are to be exclusively used by pedestrians only. "Shared Use" or "Multi-Use" refers to facilities commonly used by bicyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motorized modes of travel such as equestrians, cross country skiers, rollerbladers, baby strollers, and those utilizing wheelchairs. These facilities are mostly found within municipal parks or as regional trails such as Chester County's Chester Valley and Struble Trails.
Bicycle and pedestrian facilities, if adequately planned, designed, implemented, and used can play an important role in the overall transportation system of a municipality, as well as provide for recreational opportunities. These facilities provide a safe and alternative way for people of all ages and abilities to travel and reach destinations within a community and are common infrastructure elements associated with healthy and vibrant communities.
Bicycle and pedestrian facilities provide the following advantages:
- Decreased pollution as a result of increased non-motorized commuting;
- Decreased congestion on local and collector roads as a result of increased non-motorized travel;
- Reduction of the use of fossil fuels;
- Health benefits for those taking advantage of the facilities;
- Economic advantages (fuel savings); and,
- Increase in bikeability and walkability with the formation of a multi-modal network.
Promoting bicycle and pedestrian facilities can be challenging due to:
- The lack of sidewalks and/or shoulders to facilitate bicycle and pedestrian traffic on a significant number of rural and suburban roads in Chester County;
- The shortage of safe and secure bicycle storage facilities at many commercial and institutional facilities and shower and changing facilities for employees who wish to commute to work via bicycle;
- Potential conflicts and safety issues among pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, especially in congested areas or on roads with little or no separation between uses;
- The lack of pedestrian facility standards within ordinances to assist in walkway and trail development and implementation;
- Securing funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities and related projects; and,
- The lack of education, enforcement, and encouragement of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Both bicycle and pedestrian facility planning are commonly thought of as an effort to develop a segregated walking and cycling system to satisfy all the non-motorized travel needs. Separate paths and lanes can augment the existing system in scenic corridors or places where access is limited, but existing corridors that often need only relatively inexpensive improvements must provide for the travel needs of both pedestrians and cyclists. These types of improvements and facilities are the focus of this tool. Bicycle and pedestrian transportation planning is more than creating segregated paths or lanes; it is an effort that should consider multiple transportation alternatives to provide for safe and efficient non-motorized travel.
The following is a brief outline for the steps involved in creating a bicycle and pedestrian network plan for your community. More specific recommendations for how to incorporate these type of improvements into your municipality's ordinances may be found in the 'Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities: Policy' tool.
Develop a Community Bicycle/Pedestrian Network Plan
- Inventory the existing transportation system;
- Identify Bicycle/Pedestrian travel corridors;
- Evaluate and select specific route alternatives;
- Identify design treatments applicable to specific site conditions the proposed facilities must address; and,
- Select the appropriate facility options to move forward with design and construction.
These facilities are limited to bicycle use only:
- Shared Roadway (with limited, inconsistent, or no shoulder)
- A roadway which accommodates bicyclists and motorists in the same travel lane. Typically the travel lanes are wider than what would be designed for automobile traffic only for the associated functional classification of the road and its context (e.g. rural or urban).
- Shared roadways may be a Signed Bike Route or include other indicators such as Share the Road Signs, Sharrows, or other pavement markers.
- Shared Roadway with Paved Shoulder
- A street with a paved shoulder or wide curb lane that accommodates bicyclists adjacent to the vehicle travel lanes. A four to six foot shoulder is preferable, in conjunction with applicable municipal and PennDOT guidelines.
- Paved shoulders are separated from travel lanes by the striping representing the outside edge of the outermost travel lane. The maintenance of paved shoulders via street-sweeping is important for their success, as roadway debris, cinders, and tree limbs typically accumulate in this area of the cartway.
- Bike Lane
- A designated travel lane within the cartway or along the shoulder for exclusive use by bicyclists. Bicycle lanes are typically located on roadways in urban and suburban settings with moderate to high vehicular traffic volumes and moderate to high posted speeds.
- PennDOT's Design Manual requires a formal bicycle lane to have a five foot dedicated shoulder, application of pavement striping, markings, and regulatory signage. Bicycle lane facilities should be one-way facilities that carry traffic in the same direction as motor vehicles.
Supplemental Striping and Signage Treatments
In addition to the shared roadway and bike lane facilities, supplemental signage, roadway treatments (striping, coloration, or texture) can be added to these facilities when warranted.
- Share the Road
- A supplemental signage added to a shared roadway to warn motorists of the increased likelihood of bicyclists.
- A pavement marker that increases driver awareness of shared roadway arrangements.
- Sharrows have been approved by PennDOT; however, the approval of sharrows is presently evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- Signed Bicycle Route
- A treatment used to designate a preferential bicycle routing and provide wayfinding guidance to cyclists. AASHTO's Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities states that the "signing of shared roadways indicates to cyclists that there are particular advantages to using these routes compared to alternate routes".
- Route signs can be used to provide directional, distance, and destination information (wayfinding) to assist bicyclists in navigation. Signed routes can also be used to direct cyclists to corridors that have existing on-road facilities, or access locations for off road facilities.
- Bicycle Boulevard
- A corridor treatment that prioritizes bicycle travel via traffic calming measures, signs, pavement markings, and crossing improvements to enhance bicycle travel. Corridors identified for bicycle boulevards are typically characterized by low volumes and low speeds.
- Bicycle boulevards are not included in the PennDOT Design Manual; however, a Bicycle Boulevard Guidebook was recently released by the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation at the Center for Transportation Studies. The guidebook provides direction on selecting routes and the application of design elements.
- Cycle Track
- An exclusive facility for bicyclists that combines design aspects of bike lanes and shared use trails (see "Shared Use/Multi-Use Trail"). Cycle tracks are constructed within an existing cartway, but buffered from the vehicle lanes by striping or on-street, parallel parking. Existing cycle track facilities have been designed for both one-way and two-way operations.
These facilities accommodate users of different modes on the same facility:
- Shared Use/Multi-Use Trail
- A facility that is physically separated from the roadway and typically accommodates bi-directional travel by both bicyclists and pedestrians. The trail can be located within a publicly owned right-of-way, an exclusive right-of-way, or an easement.
- Shared use paths typically have an improved surface (e.g., asphalt, concrete, compacted gravel, etc.) and have a recommended width per AASHTO of ten feet, although a minimum width of eight feet may be used where space is constrained or in environmentally sensitive areas.
- Sidepaths are a subset of shared use paths that denote paths that run adjacent to a parallel roadway. Sidepaths can provide bicycle connections between on- and off-road facilities, but often require a more in-depth operational and safety analysis.
- Mid-Block Crossing
- A mid-block crossing permits pedestrians and bicyclists to cross a road at a location other than an intersection. These crossing require special engineering analysis to determine their appropriateness and effectiveness. Section 11.9 of PennDOT's 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. For state-owned roads, a mid-block crosswalk engineering and traffic study is required to record the study's findings.
These facilities are limited to pedestrian-use only:
- A "pedestrian lane" that provides space to travel within the public right-of-way that is separated from roadway vehicles. PennDOT's Design Manual requires sidewalks to be a minimum of five feet in width, to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
- Sidewalks are primarily for pedestrian use only; exceptions for bicycles may include use by small children or where no other option is available (such as narrow bridges where bicycles may be expressly permitted).
- Internal Walkway
- A designated single use facility with an improved surface, primarily for use by pedestrians, typically located outside of the road right-of-way and/or not directly adjacent to a street and generally used to facilitate pedestrian transportation between buildings and parking areas or sidewalks, between buildings on a parcel or within a development, or between adjacent uses, developments, or facilities.
- Social Path/Trail
- An informal, unimproved path typically, of bare earth (dirt) worn in grassy areas formed by pedestrians repeatedly traveling between areas where no trails, sidewalks, or pedestrian paths have been installed. The point of defining Social Paths is to require their identification during the subdivision and land development process and requiring that consideration be given to formalizing them into sidewalks, internal walkways, or trails as a part of new development to facilitate pedestrian movement within a site and connections to adjacent areas.
- Use-Restricted Path
- Paths are typically unpaved trails that are primarily used for one form of travel. Most commonly, single-use paths are designated for pedestrian/hiking purposes only due to trail width, surface, topography, condition, accessibility limitations, and potential user-conflict.
State and Federal laws mandate that all new bicycle and pedestrian facilities must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for design and implementation. While the guidelines may differ slightly depending on the requirements of the funding source and/or proposed location, all new bicycle and pedestrian facilities should be designed and constructed to provide for accessibility to greatest extent possible given site specific conditions. The following are the applicable guidelines commonly accepted for each facility type in Pennsylvania:
- Pedestrian-only Facilities:
- For any pedestrian improvements that are proposed within PennDOT rights-of-way, and particularly within Chester County, the PennDOT ADA Information Page provides guidance for the design and construction of ADA curb ramps.
- For pedestrian improvements proposed to be located outside of PennDOT rights-of-way, the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design should be referenced.
- Shared Use/Multi-Use Trails:
- The United States Access Board is in process of reviewing proposed requirements for accessible shared use paths used by pedestrians, bicyclists, and others for transportation or recreation. Although technically in draft form, these proposed guidelines (in previous form as the 'Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas') have been widely accepted by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the design of Shared Use and Multi-Use trails or pathways within the Commonwealth.
- Central Chester County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
- Share the Roadway with Paved Shoulders
- Throughout Chester County
- Bike Lanes
- Lincoln Highway City of Coatesville
- Baltimore Pike (West Grove to New Garden)
- Share the Roadway Signage
- Throughout Chester County
- Signed Bike Routes
- PA Bike Routes L and S
- Shared/Multi-Use Trails
- CVT, SRT, Struble, Uwchlan, and Brandywine Trails
- Mid-block Crossings
- Chester Valley Trail at Valley Creek Blvd.
- All County 15 Boroughs and City
- Along commercial corridors (BUS 30, Route 1, 3, 41, 100, 113, and 322)
- Retrofit: Marshallton Village, Tredyffrin Township
- Chester County Existing Trails
- Regional Multi-Use Trails (Chester Valley Trail, Schuylkill River Trail, Struble Trail)
- Trails within parks
- Trails within subdivisions
- PennDOT Design Manual 2
- PennDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Checklist- Design Process
- PennDOT- Smart Transportation Guidebook
- American Association of State Highway and transportation Officials (AASHTO)- Bicycle Facilities
- American Association of State Highway and transportation Officials (AASHTO)- Pedestrian Facilities
- U.S. DOT- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guidance
- National Association of City Transportation Officials- Urban Bikeway Design Guide
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
- Chester County Trail and Path Planning Guide
- PennDOT ADA Information Page
- 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
- Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way: Shared Use Paths