Facilitate Public Participation

Public involvement and participation is a critical aspect of any planning process. Good interaction with the public not only helps to more clearly define the objectives and outcomes of a given project, it can also result in a supportive constituency for the final recommendations and/or design plan.

There are several important features of public involvement in the nonmotorized transportation (bicycle and pedestrian) planning process:

  1. Provide opportunities for ongoing participation, in all stages of the planning process.
  2. Be inclusive. When in doubt, include people rather than leave them out, even if they may be opposed to the project.
  3. Initiate participation early in the planning process.
  4. Provide ways for the public to become actively involved—through bikeability audits, design workshops, survey data collection, or by simply providing frequent opportunities for public feedback.
  5. Include a wide variety of users and non-users, including people with disabilities, people of different ages (including children), and people with a variety of cultural backgrounds.
  6. Respond promptly to requests for information, and make the process as accessible as possible to the public.

Public involvement techniques

The following are some possible options for engaging the public in the planning process:

  • Hold one-on-one meetings with key individuals.
  • Schedule focus group meetings, where selected groups of individuals are chosen due to their particular interest in bicycle/pedestrian issues.
  • Host open houses, informal meetings that enable participants to talk to project sponsors one-on-one. These meetings are usually "drop -in" style.
  • Organize workshops and charrettes, meetings intended to get the public more actively involved in the design process. Smaller groups work together to brainstorm solutions for particular parts of a plan or project.
  • Develop newsletters and websites that give regular updates to a wide audience. Websites can also be made interactive to enable people to provide their comments online.
  • Perform media outreach. Cultivate contacts with the media (radio, print, TV, etc.) to generate interest in the plan or specific parts of the plan.
  • Arrange special events. Organize a bike ride or community walk with elected officials and citizens to highlight bicycle and pedestrian issues, and to allow more informal discussion of issues.