The National Academies

NCHRP 07-14 [Completed]

Guidelines for Analysis of Investments in Bicycle Facilities

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: University of Minnesota
Principal Investigator: Kevin Krizek
Effective Date: 10/17/2003
Completion Date: 8/21/2005


Transportation decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels are examining the role of bicycling in response to traffic congestion, increased travel times, and environmental degradation. Through ISTEA and TEA-21, funding has been made available to develop bicycle facilities, both on and off road; however, greater public investment in bicycle facilities warrants a more comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits. The U.S. DOT National Bicycling and Walking Study (1994) called for doubling the percentage of trips made by bicycling and walking to 15 percent. To make the best use of transportation funds, there is a need for better information on the effects of bicycle-facility investment on bicycle use and mode share, and the resulting environmental, economic, public health, and social benefits. The results will be useful in making decisions about developing modal options and providing more transportation choices.


The objective of this study is to provide transportation decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels with guidelines to evaluate the projected costs and benefits of bicycle-facility investments. The guidelines should include a methodology capable of evaluating when facilities are warranted, which particular facility is most appropriate, how investments in bicycle facilities compare with investments in other modes, and how to integrate bicycle-facility cost-benefit analysis into the overall transportation planning process.

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

TASKS (1.) Identify the costs required to plan, design, build, operate, and maintain the different types of bicycle facilities that are currently in use or planned in the United States or in other countries. (2.) Provide a methodology to estimate how these costs will vary depending on geographic location, land use and value, demand, and desired levels of service and access. (3.) Identify and assess the best methodologies currently available for determining the current and potential level of demand for bicycle facilities, taking into account experience in the United States and other countries.
(4.) Identify, quantify, and document the benefits associated with the use of bicycle facilities. The study should identify the full range of direct and indirect benefits to cyclists, pedestrians, motor vehicle and transit users, local economies, and society as a whole. These benefits would include, but not be limited to, safety (of cyclists and other system users), the environment, energy, public health, right-of-way preservation, social and community benefits, and other quality of life enhancements. The study should also consider associated effects of providing bicycle facilities, such as increased use of transit and pedestrian facilities, reduced roadway congestion, travel time, and changes in land-use patterns. Comment on the extent to which benefits can be increased by effective education and enforcement. (5.) Based on the information collected in Tasks 1 through 4, prepare a modified working plan to accomplish the remaining tasks and achieve the overall project objective. The working plan should provide an outline or table of contents of the Task 7 guidelines, as well as details of the Task 9 field testing plan and proposed agencies to be included. (6.) Submit an interim report, within 6 months, to document Tasks 1 through 5 for review by the NCHRP. The contractor will be expected to meet with the NCHRP approximately 1 month later. The contractor shall not begin work on the remaining tasks without NCHRP approval. (7.) Develop draft guidelines to provide federal, state, and local transportation decision makers with a method to evaluate bicycle-facility investments based on projected costs and benefits. The guidelines should be designed to help make the following decisions:
  • When and where bicycle facilities are warranted;
  • The most appropriate type of facility (including, but not limited to, bike lane, shoulder, wide curb lanes, trail, bridge, secure bicycle parking, or multimodal connections such as bike racks on buses or bike/car park-and-rides for transit);
  • How bicycle-facility investment compares with investments in other modes; and
  • How to integrate bicycle-facility cost-benefit analysis into the overall transportation planning process.

(8.) Submit the Task 7 draft guidelines for review by the NCHRP. (9.) Conduct field testing of the acceptability and ease of use of the guidelines in at least three agencies. The field tests should be dispersed geographically and include at least one state DOT, one local transportation agency, one transit authority, and a range of facility types under consideration.
(10.) Revise the guidelines based on the panel review and field test results and submit them for review by the NCHRP.
(11.) Briefly describe how the results of Tasks 1 through 4 could be used in a future project to develop a methodology for the assessment of benefits and costs of investing in pedestrian facilities. (12.) Submit a final report that documents the entire research effort and includes the Task 10 guidelines as a stand-alone document. In addition, provide a companion executive summary and a PowerPoint presentation that outlines the research results.

Status: Completed.

Product availability: The report is published as NCHRP Report 552.

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