Regional Transportation Planning

At the regional level, bicycle and pedestrian planning is usually carried out as part of a region's long-range and short-range transportation plan carried by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) or similar regional agencies. The main objectives of these planning functions are usually to coordinate between jurisdictions, develop planning and design guidance for local governments, establish regional priorities for funding, and to develop a unified regional approach to land use and transportation issues.

Long range transportation plans tend to have a 20-year horizon. Although the majority of projects in a long-range transportation plan tend to be auto and transit-related, they often have direct influence on bicycle facilities and activities. As such, projects in the long-range plan should be scrutinized for their ability to serve the needs of bicyclists. It is also possible that long-range plans also contain specific bicycle projects.

Short-range plans, often called Transportation Improvements Programs (TIP), are drawn at the MPO and have a four-year time horizon. These plans guide funding decisions and are often matched with Capital Improvements Plans (CIP) such as those discussed in the Local Planning section.

One important role of MPOs is that they often either provide the funds or conduct the application process for acquiring federal transportation funds to develop bicycle facilities within their jurisdictions. Therefore, inclusion of bicycle facilities in these regional plans often helps implementation at the local level.

Examples of regional bicycle plans can be found in the Sample Plans section.