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John Bissell & Associates

US DOT Adopts Bicycle Friendly Policy

By John Bissell
Posted: 2010-03-22 08:47:41
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There is good news for bicyclists from Washington DC. For years the transportation policy in this country – lead by the policy at the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) was all about cars. Recently many communities around the country have decided to use different policies called the Complete Streets standards (see my earlier blog ). The idea of complete street is that the streets are designed to work for all users, not just automobile users (peds, bikes, trucks buses etc).

However, design is always tied to funding. With the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) the Federal Government stopped resisting changes that promoted designs other than auto-centric, however, the bulk of transportation funding was still outside of ISTEA, and thus the automobile was still promoted as the highest and best use of our transportation system.

It looks like these long standing policies are changing. On March 11, 2010 the USDOT issued a policy that will put bicycle and pedestrian road design and funding on par with automobile transportation design and funding ( with the announcement made through Ray LaHood’s blog on March 15 (

This is a big step for the federal government. And even though several jurisdictions like Charlotte, NC and Seattle, WA have made the change to complete streets, most have not. With the federal government adopting a policy giving cyclists and pedestrians equal priority to cars, other jurisdictions will start to make changes, even if they don’t like bikes. They’ll change to get the funding. And since funding is where it really is, this policy will lead change.

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