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FAQ's : Bicycle Planning

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

How much does it cost to do a bicycle and/or pedestrian plan?

How much do bicycle and pedestrian facilities cost?

Which are the best cities for bicycling and walking?

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 (TEA-21). A number of states and metropolitan planning organizations (What is an MPO?) have chosen to develop separate bicycle and pedestrian plans, and most have integrated bicycle 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 reiterates 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:
    "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."
Click here to read descriptions of statewide, regional and local planning documents.

Click here to access the Federal Highway Administration guidance on implementing the Federal transportation law, including the planning process.

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


How much does it cost to do a bicycle and/or pedestrian plan?

Somewhere between $50,000 and $500,000! Obviously the answer depends on a lot of variables and assumes that the development of the plan will likely be done by outside consultants. Factors affecting the cost include:
    • How big is the area and population covered by the plan?

    • Is the plan going to cover both bicycle and pedestrian issues or just one of the two?

    • Is the plan primarily a policy document (setting standards, policies, guidance etc) or will it result in the identification of a network of facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians, and will the planning extend to include engineering drawings and studies for particular projects?

    • How much public involvement will there be?

    • How long will the plan take to complete?

    • Does the plan include a user map, or other significant printed pieces? If so, how many copies will be printed, how many colors used etc.?

    • Will the plan include a detailed assessment of bicycle and pedestrian suitability or levels of service?

    • How sophisticated are the agencies involved? For example, is this their first nonmotorized plan, or an update? Do they have extensive GIS capabilities and experience or not?
So, a small city of 50,000 people might be able to develop a useful plan for a bicycle network, which prioritizes projects and establishes bicycling policies, for under $100,000. However, that amount of money wouldn't go far in a city like Los Angeles or Chicago unless the plan was primarily a policy document. Large cities, such as Philadelphia or Houston, might need to spend $300,000 to $500,000 to get a plan that identifies a network of bicycle facilities, rewrites city policy and design manuals to include bicycling, and has an appropriate amount of public involvement and outreach.

Few pedestrian-only plans have been developed in the United States, and those cities that have adopted them - for example, the City of Portland, Ore. - have often done the work in-house with their own staff. The Maricopa Association of Governments Pedestrian Master Plan, covering the Phoenix metro area, cost in the region of $200,000 and included the development of new tools for analyzing pedestrian needs and improvements.


How much do bicycle and pedestrian facilities cost?

The answer depends a lot on whether the project involves purchasing additional right of way, major drainage and ditch work, and other important factors. The Oregon state bicycle and pedestrian plan, for example, notes that "Bike lane striping can cost as little as $2,000 per mile, but reconstructing a roadway requiring right-of-way and drainage improvements can cost as much as $2 million per mile." link

However, some states do provide estimates of the costs of bike facilities, excluding the cost of purchasing right-of-way. (link to RTF)
    Florida Department of Transportation (1999)

    Bike path per mile, 12 foot wide, railroad conversion:    $128,000
    Bike lanes per mile, 5 foot each side, pavement extension:    $189,000
    Paved shoulders per mile, 5 foot each side, rural:    $102,000
    Bike lockers (for 2 bikes):    $1,000

    Virginia Department of Transportation (2000)

    Bike path per mile, 10 foot wide:    $92,000
    Bike lanes per mile, 4 foot each side w/curb and gutter:    $270,300
    Bike lanes per mile 5 foot each side w/mountable curb:    $281,100
    Bike lane stripe, four inch line:    60 cents per linear foot
    Wide curb lane, 2 feet each side:    $48,600
    Paved shoulders per mile, 4 feet each side:    $69,200
    Bike locker (for 2 bikes):    $670-$930
    Bike rack (10-12 bikes):    $325-$730

    Wisconsin DOT Bicycle Transportation Plan

    Wisconsin uses the "marginal cost" approach: the per unit costs of bicycle improvements are those costs over and above the costs of the project without bicycle accommodation. Typically, right-of-way costs and the costs of relocating utilities are not included in this estimate for bicycle facilities.

    Paved shoulder, 3 feet both sides; over gravel shoulder:    $20,000 per mile
    Paved shoulder, 5 feet both sides; over gravel shoulder:    $33,000 per mile
    Wide curb lane (one or two feet added, both sides):    $15-50,000 per mile
    Bike lane, five/six feet, both sides:    $25-90,000 per mile
    Bike path (final limestone surface):    $10,000 per mile
    Bike path (asphalt, 12 feet, landscaped etc):    $200,000 per mile min.

    The wide curb lane and bike lane figures have a range that depends on the use of asphalt versus concrete, width of lane as measured from curb face.
Walking facility costs:
    New York State DOT, Region 8 Cost Estimates, 1994

    Sidewalk construction, 5 feet wide:    $99,000 per mile, or $3.75 per sq. foot
    Four-way pedestrian signal:    $15,000 per unit
    Striping, four inch stripes:    $9,504 per mile, or $1.80 per linear foot

    Vermont Agency of Transportation, 1996

    Asphalt sidewalk, 4 feet, no curb:    $1.50 per sq. foot
    Concrete sidewalk, 6 feet:    $3.33 per sq. foot
    Striping, 12 inch strip:    $1 per meter

    Florida DOT, 1999

    Sidewalks, both sides, 5 feet width:    $46,000 per mile
    Sidewalks, both sides, 6 feet width:    $54,000 per mile
    Walk/Don't Walk Signal System, four corners:    $3,700
Maintenance costs:

Which are the best cities for bicycling and walking?

Bicycling Magazine tries to answer this question every couple of years, and you can find out their ranking by viewing this summary of their findings. A new ranking of cities appears in the November 2001 issue of the magazine and features many of the same cities from previous years. One issue they always have to deal with is size: there are several smaller cities (e.g. Davis, Calif.; Gainesville, Fla.; Chico, Calif.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Corvallis, Ore.) that are bicycle-friendly but Bicycling Magazine usually focuses on cities with a population greater than 200,000.

Other ways to find out if your city is bicycle-friendly? Check with the League of American Bicyclists to see if they have designated your community a "Bicycle Friendly Community". Their formal recognition program requires certain conditions to have been met, including provision for bicyclists on the ground, staff support and resources devoted to bicycling, and other criteria.

Another good indication of bicycle-friendliness is the number of people riding! Although it's not a perfect number, the decennial census tells us how many people get to work by bicycle. In 1990, the metropolitan areas with the most bicycle commuters were:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) Percent of journeys to work on bicycle Population Number of people riding to work
1. Chico, CA MSA 3.9% 69,561 2,727
2. Gainesville, FL MSA 3.6% 92,175 3,318
3. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA MSA 3.3% 179,258 6,002
4. Eugene-Springfield, OR MSA 2.9% 126,571 3,659
5. Bryan-College Station, TX MSA 2.9% 55,820 1,598
6. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO MSA 2.6% 92,809 2,404
7. Madison, WI MSA 1.9% 204,399 3,970
8. Tucson, AZ MSA 1.9% 291,553 5,486
9. Champaign-Urbana-Rantoul, IL MSA 1.8% 89,190 1,638
10. Sacramento, CA MSA 1.8% 685,945 12,440
11. Iowa City, IA MSA 1.7% 53,410 922
12. Yuma, AZ MSA 1.4% 40,798 574
13. Phoenix, AZ MSA 1.4% 996,495 13,930
14. Honolulu, HI MSA 1.2% 437,518 5,460
15. Boise City, ID MSA 1.2% 103,285 1,240
16. State College, PA MSA 1.2% 57,114 685
17. Provo - Orem, UT MSA 1.2% 104,035 1,224
18. Sarasota, FL MSA 1.1% 112,341 1,285
19. Bellingham, WA MSA 1.1% 60,439 680
20. Bloomington, IN MSA 1.1% 51,537 576
21. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA MSA 1.1% 3,200,833 34,882
22. Merced, CA MSA 1.1% 68,697 732
23. Lawrence, KS MSA 1.1% 40,660 429
24. Albuquerque, NM MSA 1.0% 228,955 2,387
25. Salinas-Seaside-Monterey, CA MSA 1.0% 164,270 1,665

The equivalent numbers for walking to work are:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA)  Percent of journeys to work by walking Population Number of people walking to work
1. Jacksonville, NC MSA 15.4% 86,801 13,371
2. State College, PA MSA 15.4% 57,114 8,775
3. Iowa City, IA MSA 13.3% 53,410 7,114
4. Champaign - Urbana - Rantoul, IL MSA 11.4% 89,190 10,194
5. Lawton, OK MSA 10.4% 51,707 5,356
6. Lafayette - West Lafayette, IN MSA 10.3% 63,081 6,506
7. Bloomington, IN MSA 9.6% 51,537 4,949
8. Bloomington - Normal, IL MSA 9.2% 66,695 6,117
9. Killeen - Temple, TX MSA 8.8% 119,088 10,538
10. Madison, WI MSA 8.2% 204,399 16,859
11. Lawrence, KS MSA 7.9% 40,660 3,231
12. La Crosse, WI MSA 7.8% 49,125 3,820
13. Jamestown - Dunkirk, NY MSA 7.5% 61,148 4,582
14. Fayetville, NC MSA 7.5% 137,134 10,235
15. Clarksville - Hopkinsville, TN MSA 7.4% 83,872 6,245
16. Fargo - Moorhead, ND MSA 7.3% 78,446 5,741
17. Dubuque, IA MSA 7.1% 41,584 2,973
18. Salinas - Seaside - Monterey, CA MSA 7.1% 164,270 11,651
19. Burlington, VT MSA 7.1% 70,491 4,976
20. Columbus, GA MSA 6.9% 110,773 7,670
21. Muncie, IN MSA 6.9% 54,007 3,727
22. St. Cloud, MN MSA 6.9% 93,271 6,425
23. Wichita Falls, TX MSA 6.8% 56,615 3,831
24. Eau Claire, WI MSA 6.7% 63,584 4,291
25. Columbia, MO MSA 6.6% 56,860 3,774

There are also tools available to help you rate the walkability and bicycle-friendliness of your community. The Walkability Checklist (download the checklist at provides an easy-to-use form to fill out as you take a walk in your neighborhood, and a bicycling equivalent is in the works.