AASHTO To Weaken USDOT Bike Policy [Updated!]



AASHTO To Weaken USDOT Bike Policy [Updated!]

Please read to bottom of article for latest update!

According to a recent email from the League of American Bicyclists reported that AASHTO, apparently the voice of transportation as long as you drive a car, released a letter and supplemental document weakening their guidance on accommodating cyclists and pedestrians.  In a nutshell their letter asks that

the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) withdraw their guidance on the meaning of “due consideration” of bicyclists and pedestrians to make it easier for states to ignore the needs of non-motorized travelers. AASHTO prefers the weaker “consider where appropriate” to allow states to avoid having to justify failure to accommodate bicycling and walking.

In a time when energy prices are rising, we are facing global climate change, and the country is facing an obesity crisis, what are they thinking?  They are supposed to be a “nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states”, so what do they have to gain from letting States off the hook  when it comes to building infrastructure that supports ALL infrastructure users.

Updated 4/22/2011 3:43PM EDT:

AASHTO has released a new letter that withdraws their request to have the Bicycle and Pedestrian guidance altered.  The letter more full describes the reasoning of the request and how the request came to be a part of the submittal to the USDOT’s request for comments process, but notes that the AASHTO Board of Directors will consider the topic at its October meeting.  Bike Portland has a full copy of the letter in it’s coverage.

Independently,  in a call with the Alliance for Biking and Walking on Thursday April 21 it was indicated that USDOT was not likely to consider the request at this point, since the comments process underway does not include the guidance in question.


  • Labann
    Apr 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    What have they to gain…? A fat grant from automotive lobbyists? Aren't you overreacting? Letter never mentions bikes, per se. Sounds more like trying to streamline budgeting process, but could be tossing out some crucial bike bits if you analyze it closely. AASHTO represents state interests, not federal policy. States are financially broke. They welcome bicycling. Cars and trucks create expensive unsustainable damage to roads. Easy solution? Ban motoring. Streets will then belong to "other" users, as it should be.

    Conservative (read anti-bike) commentators (e. g., locally Allen, Cianci, York; nationally Hannity, Limbaugh) fill airwaves and media with selfish prattle aimed at preserving privileges. Why? They perceive a threat to them. Know what… they're right! The pendulum has swung so far onto side of the wealthy, revolution IS possible. Yeah, like the French Revolution… armed insurrection, beheadings, chaos. Around 9 out of 10 are fighting for scraps. Taking huge chunks away from billionaire hoarders is looking mighty attractive. Better do something to keep an well armed nation gainfully employed. But no, they'd rather sink it into overseas hedge funds. Yet this depression is global. Who's to blame?

    Michael Moore said America isn't broke, but he's wrong. All the money is gone to foreign corporations, oriental financiers, and Saudi princes. Americans can't afford infrastructure anymore, $1 trillion/year, much of it stolen by transportation insiders. Be suspicious of huge projects. Welcome routine maintenance, which is mostly labor, so hard to steal millions. Next up? $5 trillion in defense spending.

  • Durishin
    Apr 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm


    Additionally, it will be 25 years before we have the money for bike lanes. So…should we wait until then to ride? Only if we steal $trillions more for new hips for obese 20 year olds.

    Better to teach cyclists of all ages to ride with confidence on today's roads than to wait for new ones (I won't be around that long).

  • Apr 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Aren’t you overreacting? Letter never mentions bikes, per se.

    Good point. I went back and read my original post and realized that I forgot to link in the supplemental comments AASHTO submitted, which does explicitly reference bicycles and pedestrians.

  • Apr 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    @Dick although providing for pedestrians and cyclists doesn't necessarily mean bike lanes. There is LOTS the states should be able to do without big expense.

  • Labann
    Apr 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Here's something they could do immediately. The crosswalk at Sayles Hill Road and RI-146 has a pedestrian activated control. It gives you exactly 20 seconds to run across 6 lanes of vicious high-speed traffic. I could barely bike across. I mean, can't they make it 30? How often do pedestrians even use it?

    Of course, you can't ride from Old Sayles to Reservoir Rd, only by riding directly on dangerous 146, or you'd have to climb Ironmine Hill and go an hour out of your way. It's a whole hunk of state (Lincoln/Woonsocket) that has no real bike accommodations (closed bridge at Wilbur Ave, huge cloverleaf around RI-116). Similar bike unfriendliness exists in Newport, Providence, and Warwick.

    "The regulation presents an undue burden on states to justify exceptional circumstances when not including provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians in a project." There are no such circumstances, which is why it's such an "onerous burden" to explain them away. Smarten up.

  • Labann
    Apr 17, 2011 at 8:45 am

    If you go to this link at AASHTO…
    you’ll find hundreds of documents showing that they are very bicycling friendly and fully support. They even advocate interstate bicycling corridors.

    Again, I think “supplement” was meant more to streamline reporting than undermine basic right to equal treatment under existing laws. But I wouldn’t put it past a bunch of Republican western DOT insiders to ignore cyclists and screw them funding wise. DOTs hate small budget projects like repainting stripes correctly after repaving roads. It’s their way of excluding cyclists, as recently witnessed on Reservoir Avenue in Providence.

  • mattm
    Apr 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    AASHTO historically may be generally friendly to accommodating all road users, but the Supplement very clearly asks Federal DOT to weaken their guidance of when it is appropriate to include non-automobile accommodations. Since the rules get implemented by state DOTs with their own personnel, interpretations and political machinations, a weakening of guidance like this is basically allowing for nothing better than lip service to say that all users were considered and no treatment was deemed necessary for all projects. There is certainly merit to their argument of the disconnect between law and guidance, but if they’re so pro-people, why ask at all? The existing guidance doesn’t commit the state’s specifically to any implementation in any project.

  • msmoritz
    Apr 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Just in from Bike Portland, AASHTO is withdrawing their request for changing the guidance.