The National Academies

NCHRP 08-163 [RFP]

Defining Appropriate Design and Accommodation Thresholds for Active Transportation in a Context-Driven Approach

Posted Date: 1/23/2023

  Project Data
Funds: $550,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 7/25/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jennifer L. Weeks
   Phone: 202/334-2122
   Email: jlweeks@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 3/8/2023
Fiscal Year: 2023


A common approach used in transportation design is to set minimum accommodations or guidelines, such as a minimum width, for a sidewalk or bikeway. Such guidelines provide for a basic level of infrastructure quality in cases where they are applied. The concept is also used at the planning level; for example, some Complete Streets policies specify minimum accommodations for pedestrians and bicycles. However, the minimum accommodations are frequently used as the default or preferred width in all cases, even though these widths often do not provide a level and quality that will significantly increase the use of walking, bicycling, and rolling, particularly among all types of users and in areas where greater walking, bicycling, and rolling activity is possible. Research is needed on the design flexibility and the different levels of accommodation recommended for different contexts and roadway types.


The objective of this research is to develop an active transportation guide and tool (or tools) that provide a decision-making framework for the adoption and implementation of supportive active transportation infrastructure and design ranges that provide better safety, comfort, and accessibility while still serving all surface transportation users and functions.

Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.


Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.

Task 1. Conduct a comprehensive literature review that addresses accommodations for active transportation in facility design as well as specific examples of design ranges and values, guidelines, tools, and decision-making techniques adopted or applied by transportation practitioners in the United States and internationally. Seek information regarding the impact of various designs on different roadway functions, uses, and users.  

Task 2.  Conduct broad practitioner engagement through a survey or other means proposed by the research team. The engagement should strive to identify and discuss the application and effectiveness of various roadway design policies, guidelines, practical approaches, tools, and methods adopted by agencies across diverse geographic and transportation contexts that provide flexibility in road and right-of-way design to achieve better safety, comfort, and level of service for active transportation. 

Among the issues to explore in the outreach are: 

  • The specific conditions, including different land uses, rights-of-way, and roadway functions under which agencies apply flexible designs that accommodate different users;
  • The effects of different design policies, guidelines, practical approaches, tools, and methods on various roadway users with a focus on the implications for safer, more comfortable, and accessible active transportation. This would include users of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, ages, and abilities;
  • The benefits and costs of implementing and maintaining various design ranges and values on transportation performance of various modes;
  • The barriers that impede the implementation of flexible active transportation design in different contexts, including but not limited to internal agency policies and priorities; and
  • The specific needs or gaps in knowledge, data, methods, tools, and techniques that may facilitate a more balanced and flexible approach to roadway design to accommodate active transportation with other major transportation functions, e.g., freight and transit.

Note: All surveys to be distributed by the research team must be reviewed and approved in advance by NCHRP. Researchers should consider the limitations of written survey questionnaires and the impacts of “survey fatigue” on our stakeholders.  Proposers may consider the use of focus groups, Internet/web-based technologies, social networking sites, and industry conferences or other techniques that may be appropriate.

Task 3.  Prepare specific case studies of successfully integrated design flexibility in projects, identified through Tasks 1 and 2. Case studies should include a variety of project types, land uses, geographies, and roadway functions to the extent practicable. The case studies should seek information on the policies, practices, strategies, and funding sources applied towards implementing the projects.

Task 4. Based on the data collected in Tasks 1-3, assess how the implications of applying specific minimum design values adopted for different transportation modes has affected the safety, comfort, and accessibility of active transportation.

Task 5. Identify and evaluate various approaches, design flexibilities, and/or ways of communicating design approaches that better serve the safety and comfort of active transportation users while addressing the barriers to providing flexible or context-driven designs.  

Task 6. Prepare an interim report that documents the research conducted, conclusions drawn from the research, and outline the content and format of the final deliverables of this research.

Note: The research team shall be prepared to present the interim report and product outline at a meeting to be convened by NCHRP.  Approval will be required by NCHRP before the team may proceed to Task 7.

Task 7.  Prepare draft guide, decision-making framework, tool(s), and other deliverables of this research. The deliverables are expected to include:

  • Performance criteria and qualitative, quantitative, and/or surrogate measures used in decision-making regarding the application of different active transportation design;
  • Ranges of active transportation design values and other accommodations;
  • Succinct communication materials targeting different audiences, such as executive offices, planning and design professionals, and members of the general public. The use of creative design and graphics is encouraged;
  • A conduct of research report that describes and documents the full research project; and
  • An implementation plan focused on the practitioner that markets and encourages adoption of the products of this research, including training materials, opportunities to present material in conferences and other venues, and potential opportunities for integration into industry design standards and guides (see Special Note I).

 Task 8.  Prepare final deliverables for publication.

Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.


A. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2022. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow.

B. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

C. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations.

D. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at https://www.mytrb.org/OnlineDirectory/Committee/Details/6770. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest.

E. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

F. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, capacity, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue.

 Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

G. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

H. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

I. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.

The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf

J. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

K. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs.

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/viH6fu35I4kCcIm5gxNG 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 3/8/2023.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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