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Incorporating Bicycle Lanes into Resurfacing Projects

by Airton Kohls and Matt Cate (Source: FHWA Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects)

Installing bicycle facilities during roadway resurfacing projects is an efficient and cost-effective way for communities to create connected networks of bicycle facilities. FHWA has just released "Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects" providing recommendations, methods for fitting bicycle facilities onto existing roadways, cost considerations, and case studies.

Why include bicycle facilities when resurfacing a roadway?

Well designed and interconnected bicycle transportation facilities allow for safe and convenient access to schools, jobs and other essential services. In addition, there is more federal support for bicycling nowadays with US DOT encouraging transportation agencies to improve conditions and integrate bicycle facilities into their transportation system. Cost wise, it is more effective to construct a bicycle facility during a resurfacing project than providing the same facility as a standalone project. Safety wise, providing bicycle facilities requires narrowing travel lanes or roadway reconfiguration, increasing the overall safety and comfort of a roadway for bicyclists and pedestrians without negatively impacting vehicular operation. Reducing lane widths can result in lower traffic speeds that better align with posted speed limits and lower traffic speeds typically result in less severe injuries in the event of a crash. Furthermore, pavement markings for bicycle facilities installed on resurfaced roadways will last longer when compared to pavement markings installed on older pavements.

Resurfacing Process Major Steps

The major steps in the generalized resurfacing process include:

This process works well for resurfacing roadways and marking them identically to how they were marked prior to resurfacing. However, due to the need for additional time for plan development, public outreach, and the design of new marking plans, this process is not often conducive to adding bicycle facilities during a resurfacing project. Therefore, among other things the following should be considered:

Provide adequate time - providing sufficient time to consider bikeways in projects is a major factor in enabling the inclusion of bikeways. With a longer timeframe, staff have more time to consider methods for finding space for bikeways, develop or update marking plans to include bikeways, perform public outreach and overcome unanticipated obstacles.

Multimodal approach and including key staff - including the right people in the resurfacing process at the right time can be the key to capturing opportunities to include bikeways with resurfacing projects. These key people include bicycle, pedestrian and transit staff who understand how the resurfacing project can positively impact all the users of the system.

Figure 2 highlights two boxes that illustrate opportune times in the process to include bikeway discussions and what should occur at those junctures. The first box occurs immediately after the preliminary resurfacing list is established. At this point, an initial scope of the project is established. The scope could be as simple as a minor overlay, or more involved such as the pavement being replaced.

Figure 2
Figure 2

Key bikeway considerations occur at this point and multiple questions should be asked:

As a final resurfacing list is created, it may be possible to delay some resurfacing projects for a year or two if the consideration of bikeways is not complete but solutions appear workable or likely. When considering delaying a project, it is important to ensure that the delay will not lead to significantly worse pavement conditions that may not be able to be resurfaced. The second box in Figure 2 reflects when this occurs. This is also the appropriate time to return to earlier questions that arose as the preliminary resurfacing list was established. A key question is whether a method to include the bikeway has been determined. Changes to the bike plan or nearby existing bikeways that impact the project or connections to the project should also be considered at this time.

Therefore, FHWA "Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects" provides us with recommendations for how roadway agencies can integrate bikeways into their resurfacing program. By installing bicycle facilities during resurfacing projects, agencies can create connected networks of bicycle facilities in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This document also discusses methods for including bikeways on resurfacing projects (lane narrowing/lane diet, roadway reconfiguration/road diet, parking removal and shoulder paving) and cost plus material considerations as well as several case studies throughout the country. For additional information download at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/resurfacing/resurfacing_workbook.pdf


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