On Friday, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) released a letter and supplemental document, which asked the US Department of Transportation to weaken their guidance on accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians.
The supplemental document, submitted as part of a formal review of regulations, asks that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) withdraw their guidance on the meaning of “due consideration” of bicyclists and pedestrians to make it easier for states to ignore the needs of non-motorized travelers. AASHTO prefers the weaker “consider where appropriate” to allow states to avoid having to justify failure to accommodate bicycling and walking.
This request is misguided. At a time when cities are building entire bicycling networks for the cost of one mile of urban four-lane freeway, bike projects are putting people to work, and benefiting business, this is not the time to move backwards. When more and more states – 23 and counting – are embracing Complete Streets policies, AASHTO should be a leading voice in shaping holistic and comprehensive transportation systems, not resisting them.
In fact, AASHTO’s own 12 year-old Bicycle Guide, due to be up dated this year, says that bicyclists and pedestrians can be expected on any roadway they are legally allowed to operate and therefore should be accommodated.