Are states and cities required to plan for bicycling and/or walking?

There is no legal requirement for states or cities to develop stand-alone bicycle and/or pedestrian plans. However, bicyclists and pedestrians must be considered in the statewide and metropolitan transportation plans required by Federal law (SAFETEA-LU). A number of states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) have chosen to develop separate bicycle and pedestrian plans, and most have integrated bike and pedestrian planning - to some degree, at least - in their overall transportation plans. Significantly, bicycle and pedestrian projects must be included in these planning documents to be eligible for federal transportation funds.

More details:
In 1991, Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) that created a new transportation planning process for States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). The process was not altered significantly by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), passed in 1998. Federal law requires states and MPOs to plan for the "development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities (including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities) that function as an intermodal transportation system." State and MPO plans are further required to consider projects and strategies to increase the safety and security of the transportation system for nonmotorized users.

TEA-21 reiterated in the Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways section (1202) that planning for bicyclists and pedestrians should be an integral part of the ongoing transportation planning process, and that projects and programs identified in the planning process should be implemented. More specifically, it stated that:

- "Bicyclists and pedestrians shall be given due consideration in the comprehensive transportation plans developed by each metropolitan planning organization and State."
- "Bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways shall be considered, where appropriate, in conjunction with all new construction and reconstruction and transportation facilities, except where bicycle and pedestrian use are not permitted."
- "Transportation plans and projects shall provide due consideration for safety and contiguous routes for bicyclists and pedestrians."

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act -- A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was passed into law in August 2005. It continued the programs for bicycling and walking established in ISTEA and TEA-21, included several new directives, increased funding for some programs, and gave other programs more flexibility. Key provisions in SAFETEA-LU regarding bicycling and walking include:

- Provision of $612 million over five years for a new Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program designed to make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to school
- Increased funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which requires a minimum of 70 percent of the trails be suitable for walking and bicycling
- Nearly 26 percent increase in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program funding to help communities support less polluting non-motorized transportation modes like walking and bicycling
- Creation of the new Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to provide more funding for pedestrian and bicycling safety
- Creation of a non-motorized transportation pilot program in four separate cities to fund non-motorized transportation infrastructure projects to study the extent to which walking and bicycling can represent a major portion of the transportation solution in certain communities

Additional Resources:
Descriptions of statewide, regional and local planning documents.

Federal Highway Administration Guidance on bicycle and pedestrian provisions of Federal transportation Legislation.

Federal Highway Administration Guidance on implementing the Federal transportation law, including the planning process.

Resources available for purchase from FHWA:
FHWA-PD-97-053 Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Under ISTEA
FHWA-HI-94-028 Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning
(training course participant workbook)