What is a state Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, and what are the Coordinator's primary responsibilities?

The 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) mandated that all state departments of transportation have a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator or program manager. A coordinator's primary functions are to institutionalize nonmotorized transportation within a larger state agency and to increase the number of citizens safely bicycling and walking in the state. To do this, coordinators must be generalists who can build internal and external partnerships, manage projects, provide technical review, secure funding, implement safety education programs, work with the public and the media, conduct research, and share resources.

A bicycle/pedestrian coordinator works with advocates, state and local elected officials, business leaders, media, law enforcement, public health officials, transit providers and the general public to build partnerships providing leadership and vision so these groups may embrace and implement facilities and programs that increase the number of residents safely bicycling and walking.

Typically, a local pedestrian/bicycle coordinator's primary responsibility is to implement the programs and projects in the local bicycle and/or pedestrian plans. If these plans do not exist, or are out-dated, managing the development or update of the plans will be a primary task.

Whether or not a plan is in place, a bicycle/pedestrian coordinator often has other responsibilities, such as:

  • reviewing development proposals to ensure that local bicycle/pedestrian requirements are incorporated and to assess bicycling and walking impacts
  • developing and implementing educational and promotional programs, such as Bike to Work Day events
  • writing grant proposals, since local funds are rarely adequate
  • serving as the public contact for bicycling/walking inquiries and complaints
  • staffing the local bicycle and/or pedestrian advisory committee
  • coordinating with neighboring cities, transit agencies and public health staff to implement policies and projects.

A local coordinator must be able to work effectively with staff in other departments to carry out the plans' policies and projects. Since a coordinator cannot implement everything alone, building good relationships with other staff will result in a more successful program. Often, this will involve educating other staff about the jurisdiction's plan(s), and even state and federal facilities standards and guidelines.

A coordinator's focus will vary depending on the job description, home department and time allocated to the role. Typically, the local coordinator will be a planner, and will work on a broad range of tasks. An engineer or public works employee might concentrate more heavily on facility implementation and plan review, while a coordinator in a parks and recreation department may primarily run safety and education programs. Few local jurisdictions will fund a full-time position dedicated to pedestrian and bicycle issues, let alone a coordinator for each mode. A coordinator's responsibilities can, and often do, fit in with other duties.

Resources and more information:

State DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Contact Information

Federal Highway Administration. (1993). The Role of State Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinators (FHWA-PD-93-019). http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=2669