Bike and Peds on the Hoan: it’s the law.

If the Wisconsin DOT wants to use federal funds for the project, they may have to allow bicycles and pedestrians on the Hoan Bridge.  In 2010 the Federal Highway Administration released a general policy statement on including bicycle and pedestrian accomodations in highway projects:

Policy Statement

The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life — transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.

Authority

This policy is based on various sections in the United States Code (U.S.C.) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Title 23—Highways, Title 49—Transportation, and Title 42—The Public Health and Welfare. These sections, provided in the Appendix, describe how bicyclists and pedestrians of all abilities should be involved throughout the planning process, should not be adversely affected by other transportation projects, and should be able to track annual obligations and expenditures on nonmotorized transportation facilities.

That general policy is backed up with more specific language in Title 23 of the United States Code section §217, which  requires that bridges being replaced with federal funds include safe accommodation for bicyclists:

 Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways

(e) Bridges.‐‐In any case where a highway bridge deck being replaced or rehabilitated with Federal financial participation is located on a highway on which bicycles are permitted to operate at each end of such bridge, and the Secretary determines that the safe accommodation of bicycles can be provided at reasonable cost as part of such replacement or rehabilitation, then such bridge shall be so replaced or rehabilitated as to provide such safe accommodations.ii

23 U.S.C. 217(g) Planning and Design.–

  1. In General.–Bicyclists and pedestrians shall be given due consideration in the comprehensive transportation plans developed by each metropolitan planning organization and State in accordance with sections 134 and 135, respectively. Bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways shall be considered, where appropriate, in conjunction with all new construction and reconstruction of transportation facilities, except where bicycle and pedestrian use are not permitted.
  2. Safety considerations.–Transportation plans and projects shall provide due consideration for safety and contiguous routes for bicyclists and pedestrians. Safety considerations shall include the installation, where appropriate, and maintenance of audible traffic signals and audible signs at street crossings.

Under 23 U.S.C. 217(e), bridge deck replacement and rehabilitation must consider bicyclists:

23 U.S.C. 217(e) Bridges.–In any case where a highway bridge deck being replaced or rehabilitated with Federal financial participation is located on a highway on which bicycles are permitted to operate at each end of such bridge, and the Secretary determines that the safe accommodation of bicycles can be provided at reasonable cost as part of such replacement or rehabilitation, then such bridge shall be so replaced or rehabilitated as to provide such safe accommodations.

There are several examples of shared use paths along or within Interstate or other freeway rights-of-way. Nearly all have obvious barriers (walls or fences) or grade separation between the freeway and the shared use path.

Examples

I-94 bridge from Hudson, Wisconsin to Minnesota from Google maps. The green line denotes the bike and pedestrian path on the bridge.

  • I-5, Portland, Oregon. There are several locations where there are shared use paths within or adjacent to Interstate rights-of-way in Portland OR, such as the Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River, and adjacent to I-5. I-205 in northeast Portland has a separated path for several miles. There are portions of shared use paths along or near other Interstates in Portland. Numerous website links are available through web search engines.
  • I-66, Arlington Virginia. A shared use path was built adjacent to I-66 as part of the environmental mitigation. There is always a barrier (usually a sound wall, sometimes a fence) between the Interstate lanes and the path. Crossings over or under the Interstate are grade separated. Where the path is adjacent to the Interstate, it usually (but not always) crosses streets with a grade separation. The portion of I-66 adjacent to the Washington & Old Dominion rail-trail has the Metrorail in the median (a rail-with-highway-with-trail), and provides access to the East Falls Church Metro Station. The Martha Custis Trail provides access into Washington DC.
  • I-70, Glenwood Canyon, Colorado. This is a Best Practice for incorporating various uses along an Interstate highway right-of-way through a canyon. See the March/April 2004 edition of FHWA’s Public Roads Magazine.
  • I-90, Seattle, Washington: There is a shared use path using the I-90 bridge across Lake Washington on the east side of Seattle. See the City of Seattle Bike Maps website.

The League of American Bicyclists has a list of Interstate Bridges with Bicycle Access.  The League also has a very in depth policy guide on bicycles on bridges with suggestions on how to run a grass-roots campaign to advocate for the inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian accomodations on a project.

About these ads

About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Advocacy, Bike facilities and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bike and Peds on the Hoan: it’s the law.

  1. Brent says:

    Great write up Dave. Although you provide other examples of bridges with bike paths, do you know of any precedent for a project as contentious as the Hoan, with an openly adversarial governor and legislature?

  2. Barry Stuart says:

    First we’ll show that it’s feasible to bike the Hoan this June on the UPAF/Miller Lite Ride for the Arts, then we will have even more ammunition for a serious push to get a bike route on the Hoan Bridge. Let’s get our state legislators and County Executive behind a bikeway on the Hoan.

  3. Chris Q says:

    It’s one thing for the Federal government to declare it law, but is that law enforceable? And if so – by whom? Does the Federal government have a means of checking that in fact, bikes are allowed on Carferry Dr. and also on N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., and thus the project must have bike/ped access? Or would some entity here have to sue the state to force them to comply with the Federal law?

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Well, I use the term “law” a bit loosely. There are no FHWA police. This rule was around in 2002 when WisDOT announced their “preferred” on-street alternative to the Hoan bike route. That said, since SAFETEA-LU was passed things have changed. The 2010 FHA policy statement also strengthens the case for a bike path. Yes, the fact that Carferry Dr. and Lincoln Memorial, Michigan Ave., and the park trails all abut the bridge mean the Hoan meets the test of 23 U.S.C. 217(e) ruling on bridges. I would argue that the Hoan is EXACTLY the situation for which the rule was written. We must make the case for this with WisDOT and the regional FHWA office. Both will be involved in the scoping process and the development of the bridge plans. No need to lawyer up yet. We have not even had a formal meeting with WisDOT about the project yet. I will keep readers updated as things progress.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s