The National Academies

NCHRP 08-164 [Pending]

Institutional Integration of Active Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: Camille Crichton-Sumners


The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Section 11529, Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program defines ‘‘active transportation’’ as a means of mobility options powered primarily by human energy, including bicycling and walking. Many transportation agencies now believe that active transportation needs should be considered in all transportation projects as it will contribute to improved safety and health and reduce carbon emissions. Active transportation activities, such as walking, bicycling, and rolling (e.g., wheelchairs, roller blades, and e-scooters) have traditionally not been prioritized in transportation project development. There is little research on how to institutionalize active transportation infrastructure, practices, and processes. State DOTs would benefit from research to aid in the increased, integrated, and effective implementation of active transportation.


The objective of this research is to provide an active transportation institutionalization framework and guide for state transportation agencies that provide the following: (1) examples of successful implementation practices; (2) models for partner and stakeholder coordination and public engagement; (3) considerations for organizational structure, policy, process, and procedural changes needed to embed and integrate active transportation into program development, project funding, project delivery, operations, and maintenance; and (4) strategies for overcoming barriers to equity, access, safety, implementation, and institutionalization of active transportation.

Consideration shall be given to, but not limited to, the following concepts or factors:

  • Inclusion of active transportation as a primary purpose for projects and leadership’s consideration of walking and bicycling as system needs; 
  • Organizational structure and scale (including the institutional position of the active transportation/state bicycle and pedestrian coordinator), multilevel agency collaboration, and interdisciplinary collaboration;
  • Timing of decisions made during project development and delivery, including all program phases, operations, and maintenance; 
  • Program planning and development considerations for connecting the active transportation infrastructure;
  • Workforce/staffing challenges including staff knowledge, experience, and attitudes; 
  • Existence of context-sensitive, complete streets, or other policies that balance the needs of users of all ages and abilities in project development and delivery;
  • Active transportation needs and design solutions that are not only based on historical data but also consider future growth and data collection for active transportation users; 
  • Policy conflicts between local, state, and federal agencies;
  • Benefits of active transportation incorporated when calculating a cost-benefit ratio for a project;
  • Use of active transportation pilot, quick-build, and/or demonstration projects; and
  • Equity and systemic biases related to implementing active transportation in multiple transportation modes.


Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how 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 contain sufficient detail to demonstrate the proposer’s understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. 

The research plan should: 

  • Include a kick-off teleconference with the research team and NCHRP convened within 1 month of the contract’s execution;
  • Address how the proposer intends to satisfy the project objective;
  • Be divided logically into detailed phases/tasks necessary to fulfill the research objective and include appropriate milestones and interim deliverables;
  • Include one face-to-face meeting to review an interim report and a web-conference meeting (NCHRP will provide teleconference services); 
  • Include opportunities for the project panel to review, comment on, and approve milestone deliverables; and
  • Include two presentations to appropriate AASHTO technical committees. 

At a minimum, the research plan should include the following activities.


Task 1. Perform a review of literature related to the institutionalization of active transportation. Provide a summary in a Task 1 Report that includes relevant theories, policies, organizational culture, related disciplines, and existing transportation case studies.

Notes: NCHRP approval of the Task 1 Report and the proposed approach to accomplishing Task 2 is required before advancing to Task 2.

Task 2. Identify the state of practice related to the institutionalization of active transportation. 

Task 3. Prepare an Interim Report No. 1 that documents the work completed in Tasks 1 and 2. Include a detailed work plan with selection criteria for participants needed for the tasks anticipated in Phase II. 


Task 4. Interview key state and non-state subject matter experts and stakeholders (e.g., advocacy groups, public health groups, Tribal governments, natural resource/park agencies) to identify challenges to the institutionalization of active transportation.

Task 5. Identify successes and failures impacting policies, structures, and systems, experienced by state DOTs and their key partners when implementing active transportation.

Task 6. Develop an active transportation institutionalization framework that documents stakeholder roles and components needed to bring about systemic changes related to equity, engineering, education, and enforcement. The framework should identify barriers, opportunities, performance measures, and constraints to implementing active transportation.

Task 7. Prepare an Interim Report No. 2 that documents the work completed in Tasks 4 through 6 and includes a detailed work plan for the work anticipated in Phase III.


Task 8. Based on Tasks 1 through 7, convene a pre-approved group of stakeholders from state organizations who are involved in implementing active transportation. The group will participate in the development of an action plan for active transportation institutionalization. 

Task 9. Develop a capability maturity model for organizational assessment of readiness to institutionalize active transportation.

Task 10. Prepare an active transportation institutionalization guide that incorporates the findings from Tasks 1 through 9 and includes, at a minimum: 

  • Strategies used to overcome the challenges to active transportation institutionalization; 
  • Updated active transportation institutionalization framework developed in Task 6;
  • Recommendations for step-by-step actions agencies may undertake to institutionalize active transportation; 
  • List of challenges to integrating active transportation into institutional structures, staffing,  policies, and gaps (e.g., assets and data) as well as a list of misconceptions (e.g., funding, geometric design, safety, economic impacts) that may impede progress in institutionalizing active transportation; and
  • Capability maturity model.

Task 11. Prepare a step-by-step implementation plan that may include ideas for short-term and long-term implementation activities or policy actions that could be undertaken by state and local transportation agencies, the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and other collaborating partners. This would include efforts to fill research gaps, improve the transfer of existing research to practice, and address misconceptions that may cause barriers to implementation.

Task 12. Prepare final deliverables, which at a minimum include:

  1. A conduct of research report that documents the entire research effort and includes a literature review summary, a compendium of research papers, collected data, and a prioritized list of recommendations for future research; 
  2. An active transportation institutionalization guide;
  3. A capability maturity model for organizational assessment; 
  4. A logo-free PowerPoint presentation describing the background, objective, approach, findings, and conclusions;
  5. A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note I for additional information); and 
  6. A draft article suitable for publication in TR News (information regarding TR News publication may be found on the TRB webpage at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/trnews/info4contributors.pdf). 

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