General Implementation Considerations

Changing the status quo can be a daunting task, even if you have built successful coalitions and partnerships and everyone agrees change is needed. It requires persistence, patience, and a well-crafted strategy. Consider the following questions as you work toward improving walking and bicycling in your community.

Do you have a plan?

Communities routinely develop plans to guide the process of managing transportation needs. You need to know if there is already a plan in place that addresses your concerns. City, county, or regional transportation agency plans relevant to bicycle and pedestrian issues include:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan
  • Transportation Plan, including the Bicycle and Pedestrian Element
  • Pathways, trails, pedestrian, and bicycle plans

The plan and the process used to develop it are key factors in successful implementation. Effective plans usually:

  • Reflect public input
  • Consider local data
  • Establish priorities or criteria for establishing priorities
  • Include a list of projects or establish a process for developing a list
  • Include funding sources for listed projects
  • Identify the person(s) or position(s) responsible for implementing the plan
  • Include a time table for implementation
  • Include a process for evaluating the success of the plan

If no plan exists or it is not adequate, your first step is to get a plan developed. See the guide, How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan for more information-although the guide is focused on pedestrian plans, much of it is relevant to the bicycle planning process as well. Plans are most likely to be successfully implemented if all affected parties are involved in the process from the beginning. Setting up a partnership, coalition, or steering committee before embarking on the planning process will help ensure support for the final product.

If your community will not develop a plan, you can work with your partners or coalition to develop your own action plan. An action plan can be as simple as identifying one or two priorities, assessing options, selecting feasible solutions, and deciding how it will be implemented. Involve everyone you can in developing the action plan. See Understand Who Can Help for more information. People are more likely to support the effort if they are consulted before final decisions are made.

Are there dedicated resources for implementation?

Effective plans require a commitment for implementation. Plans are implemented in numerous ways. For example, the plan may require new developments to provide sidewalks on both sides of the street. To achieve this objective, new standards or subdivision guidelines may be needed. Is someone dedicated to making sure this is accomplished? Are new development plans reviewed to ensure they are compliant with the objectives of the pedestrian plan?

Lack of funding is often cited as the reason plan(s) are not implemented. If this is the case, see the section on Funding for ideas on how to support the plan.

Is the impact of the plan being evaluated?

This is a crucial step in implementation. Are planned programs or projects underway or complete? Did they achieve the desired outcome? Answering these questions helps determine if the plan needs to be changed, or if it needs to be implemented in a different way.