FHWA publishes new guide on multimodal transport designs for safer streets


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has published a new guide for state, city, and local governments and transportation departments, transit agencies, and planners, which aims to highlight the benefits, and increase the uptake of, multimodal transport networks.

The new FHWA guide, Achieving Multimodal Networks: Applying Design Flexibility and Reducing Conflicts, builds on the work the agency has done, both internally and with industry groups like the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). The design manuals produce by these organizations already encourage a flexible, holistic design approach, which many states, counties, and cities have embraced. However, the FHWA is still concerned about the potential for violating federal guidelines, which can lead to rigidity in road design that leaves out vulnerable road users.

Part 1 of ‘Achieving Multimodal Networks’ makes it clear that flexibility is not only allowed, but encouraged under existing guidelines, pointing to FHWA’s own guidance on the subject as well as references to works from AASHTO, NACTO, and others in the field.

Part 2 provides specific, practical guidance as to how to achieve multimodal design in real-world scenarios. Due to input from a nationwide, multidisciplinary team of planning professionals, the FHWA was able to include case studies from real transportation projects that include everything from bike lanes, to enhanced sidewalks and bus stops. The agency explains that by taking a comprehensive approach to road design, vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children on the way to and from school, all benefit from ‘complete streets’ that help keep them out of harm’s way. This approach is also better for motorists, as these flexible road designs produce a driving environment that is more coherent, predictable, and less likely to result in conflict with other road users.

Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau, said, “At the FHWA, we know that a multimodal transportation network is key to getting people where they need to go, whether they make the trip by car, on foot, on a bicycle, or all of the above. However, when it comes to designing highways and other roads, our local partners are often unaware of the flexibility they have to safely accommodate all road users – including bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders.

“That’s why we have published this new guide to help states, local governments, transit agencies, and others make the most of their road infrastructure. Overall, we’re proud to contribute this resource toward the growing movement for multimodal transportation networks. By working together and thinking creatively, we can make our transportation system safer and more accessible for all.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).