PBIC is kicking off a new national study on BikeShare Programs

bike to school day

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) and Toole Design Group will be conducting an independent, national study of current bike sharing programs in the United States. The final report, which is anticipated to be released in the late summer or early fall, will be a resource of information about the implementation of the different bike sharing schemes and provide a guide for cities that are considering investments in bike sharing infrastructure.

The study will explore the evolution of bike sharing in the US, define success factors, examine funding models, explain demographic and geographic trends affecting the implementation of programs, recommend a step-by-step approach for implementation in cities in the start-up phase and discuss measures to increase demand and expansion of existing programs.

The research team has solicited information on bike share program implementation from State, County and City Departments of Transportation charged with implementing bike sharing programs in their localities. The project is guided by a National Bike Sharing Committee comprised of experts from implementing agencies. The Committee facilitates the exchange of best practices and ideas on different program goals, infrastructure requirements, funding programs and system sustainability, vendor selection and management, and community engagement, which are necessary for development and expansion of a bike sharing system.

Preliminary findings will be presented at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC in the Wednesday, March 21 session, "Bikes: An On-Demand Mobility Solution" and will be made available on PBIC's website, bicyclinginfo.org.

PBIC updates its graduate-level course materials

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has updated the materials for its Graduate-Level Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Course. PBIC provides all materials instructors need to train future planners about bicycle and pedestrian needs, including a syllabus, homework assignments, lectures and reading lists.

While PBIC has offered these materials for several years, the current materials have been updated based on the latest safety and planning research and in response to feedback from students and instructors.

An example syllabus and reading list is available at http://www.walkinginfo.org/training/university-courses/masters-course.cfm. To assure access to the lecture materials and student assignments is limited to instructors, individuals must register with PBIC to receive the full course materials. To register, please visit http://www.walkinginfo.org/training/university-courses/masters-course-registration.cfm.

Gear up for the first-ever National Bike to School Day

bike to school day

Prepare to switch gears this spring. The National Center for Safe Routes to School is coordinating the first-ever National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Bike to School Day builds on the popularity and success of International Walk to School Day, which is celebrated across the country–and the world–each October, and encourages a bike-focused celebration in the month of May. The National Center, which serves as the information clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program, is planning the inaugural event in partnership with the League of American Bicyclists, the organization that leads the celebration of National Bike Month.

"Communities and schools have been holding spring walk and bicycle to school days for years," said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. "This inaugural celebration not only provides an opportunity for schools across the country to join together to celebrate National Bike to School Day but also to build off of the energy of National Bike Month."

"Celebrating Bike to School Day will increase the excitement surrounding 2012 National Bike Month," said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. "Bike Month–including Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day–has grown year after year and we're pleased to add a school- and kid-focused event to the celebration this year."

Save the date and stay tuned! A newly redesigned version of walktoschool.org will be unveiled in early April with more information about Bike to School Day and new event planning resources and tools, including a new GIS-powered walking and bicycling route mapping tool. A "Win a Bike Rack" contest also is being planned to help build excitement and encourage registration of both events and resources for this inaugural event. Bookmark walktoschool.org and check back often to learn more.

Featured Case Study: Using Walk Score for Neighborhood Planning in Washington, DC



Walk Score is a web-based tool developed by Front Seat, a civic software company based in Seattle. The product was launched in 2007 and was initially embraced by real estate professionals as a way to promote properties with good walking amenities. Front Seat's vision for the product was to inspire real estate ads to include a measure of walkability in property descriptions: "2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1,000 square feet, Walk Score 87 (4)." Since then, the product has been tailored to meet the needs of other fields, such as news media, academia, and public-sector research and planning. The Washington, DC Office of Planning is one of the governmental entities employing Walk Score's data in its regional- and neighborhood-scale planning efforts.


Front Seat's relationship with its local planning community alerted it to a then-new buzz word in planning: walkability. Inspired by 1) the need of planners to better measure walkability, 2) the Sightline Institute's work on mapping walking distances in different neighborhood types,(1) and 3) the understood benefits of walking, Front Seat wanted to address the challenge of promoting car-lite lifestyles.

A market for this product had been developing as planners and researchers began studying the concept of walkability and its effects on regions and neighborhoods. The DC Office of Planning (DCOP) is led by Director Harriet Tregoning who, according to one staffer, is a "data guru" who advocates for the use of data and statistics for making stronger arguments and justifications. Under her leadership, DCOP searched for new ways to integrate numerical measures of walkability into existing conditions analyses in developing plans (2). While academic research provides insight into the measures of the built environment that relate to walkability (3), an easy- and ready-to-use tool and data source would address the need more directly. They chose Walk Score as the appropriate measure to fill the gap.


Walk Score uses an algorithm that scores each address in a city on a scale of 0 - 100. Points are awarded based on the proximity of the address to nearby amenities such as restaurants, grocery stores, parks, and transit stops. Amenities within a quarter-mile of the address receive the maximum amount of points available, while amenities at greater distances receive less. The current version of the product uses "as-the-crow-flies" distances from the address to nearby amenities. A beta version, called Street Smarts Walk Score, refines the algorithm by using network distances and weights for different types of amenities (e.g. grocery stores are viewed as three times more important to walkability than banks, parks, schools, books, or entertainment options) (5). Street Smarts Walk Score is available online as a preview.

Director Tregoning sees opportunities to combine the Walk Score with affordability indices, retail attraction, and regional and neighborhood planning initiatives (6). Through her championing of the technology, staffers in DCOP now use Walk Score routinely when developing plans to understand how easy it would be to encourage pedestrian activity in certain areas and where pedestrian conditions could be improved. Because of its improved methodology using network distances and amenity weights, DCOP prefers the Streets Smarts Walk Score.


One example planning effort in which Walk Score was used is the 14th Street Corridor Vision Plan and Revitalization Strategy, an ongoing effort within DCOP. Gizachew Andargeh, Neighborhood Planning Coordinator in Ward 7 of DC, provided information about how the product was used (7). The 14th Street plan was initiated by a citizen-led effort to improve physical storefronts and the quality and variety of commercial retail options along a 1.2-mile stretch between Spring Road and Longfellow Street. The ongoing effort has utilized Walk Score as an existing conditions metric, identifying an initial score of 70 at a representative address. The scores range from the mid-60s to the mid-80s along the corridor with the highest scores at the southern end. With this score, the area is classified as somewhat to very walkable, which DCOP used as a gauge of the feasibility and effectiveness of promoting more pedestrian activity along the corridor. DCOP was also able to use the Walk Score as a means of guiding conversations in advisory committee meetings.

As this effort is ongoing, Andargeh said DCOP has not utilized the Walk Score as a performance measure, but expects to do so in two to three years after improvements have been made. While the original Walk Score was used in this study, Andargeh said he plans to use the Street Smart Walk Score in the future.

Andargeh also expressed some limitations of the tool and stressed the need to use it only in conjunction with other methods, such as site visits and conversations with community members. It cannot measure the quality of the pedestrian experience (such as visual appeal or relevance of retail options), upon which the 14th Street planning effort had been predicated.


Use of Walk Score's website is free. Data provided by request for research purposes varies based on the information requested. For up to 10,000 addresses, Walk Score (and the related Transit Score) are $500. Street Smart Walk Score for these points is an additional $1,000.


Andargeh noted several limitations of relying on Walk Score, and the company acknowledges its shortcomings explicitly (8). While the algorithm is based on recent research around walkability, it does not account for these factors that also affect the propensity to walk: (9)

Because of these limitations, Walk Score cannot be relied upon as a comprehensive indicator of walkability and should be used with these caveats in mind.

Other Potential Uses

In Director Tregoning's presentation to the 2010 Smart Growth Conference, she noted several potential uses for Walk Score including tracking plan implementation progress and investment evaluation, defining regional activity centers, and as an employer recruiting tool (10).

Use of Walk Score within planning documents can also help raise the public's awareness of the tool, which is intended to stimulate a preference for active lifestyles and awareness of the concept of walkability. It can help frame conversations with advisory committees and prioritize areas of focus in small area or corridor plans.

A natural extension of the product itself is the development of a future scenario modeling tool, enabling cities and regions to measure how walkable an area will be in the future given planned zoning and development. As of April 2011, this functionality has not yet been developed (11).

Durham, North Carolina-based Triangle Transit recently developed a "Neighborhood Transit Readiness Scorecard" tool using Walk Score data for rating transit- and pedestrian-friendly communities, the methodology of which is repeatable by any individual or local government using GIS. Triangle Transit highlights the scorecard's utility for assessing what types of investments and regulatory changes are necessary to create these types of "livable" environments, making future scenario testing possible. The scorecard is based on research done by Robert Cervero and Reid Ewing, which finds that "Three D's" of the built environment are determinants of walkability: design, density, and diversity (12). The scorecard utilizes Walk Score, which measures the variety of amenities within walking distance of an address, as a proxy for land use diversity. Triangle Transit used the scorecard to grade several neighborhoods in its service area to determine those that are already transit-supportive and those that will need improvements before regional rail is implemented (13).

Walk Score's algorithmic framework lends itself to a "bike score" methodology as well. This would come with all the benefits and limitations of Walk Score, but would be an additional standardized measure of bikeability. The Walk Score team is currently collecting users' suggestions on the most important components of a bike score (14).

Lastly, additional qualitative data about places could be added. Because data on crashes is publically available nationally through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (15) and crime data is available through websites like SpotCrime (16), these elements of walkability appear to be feasible additions to the Walk Score algorithm, making it a more comprehensive measure. Conversations with a SpotCrime representative revealed that this type of data integration is feasible. Yelp or other customer review data could be used to gauge the quality of retail in an area, adding another layer of sophistication to the tool.


Terra Curtis
Graduate student, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, funded by the US Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, does not endorse specific products or manufacturers. Trade and manufacturers' names appear in this case study only because they are considered essential to the object of the document. An attempt was made by the author to ensure that all information was balanced and factual at the time preceding publication. If you have additional information or suggestions for case study content, please contact PBIC at pbic@pedbikeinfo.org.

For additional resources and references, visit http://www.walkinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=4729.

New Resources

The following resources have been recently added to the PBIC Online Library, a centralized, Web-based collection of pedestrian- and bicycling-related materials. To search the library, please visit www.walkinginfo.org/library or www.bicyclinginfo.org/library.

Going on a Road Diet
Safer Vulnerable Road Users: Pedestrians, Bicyclists, Motorcyclists, and Older Users
When Distracted Road Users Cross Paths
Virginia Tech Capital Bikeshare Study
Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for Walking and Cycling
Retrofitting the Suburbs to Increase Walking
Trail and Transit Connections – Assessment of Visitor Access to National Wildlife Refuges
Proven Safety Countermeasures
Assessment of Driver Yield Rates Pre- and Post-RRFB Installation in Bend, Oregon
Better Streets, Better Cities – A Guide to Street Design in Urban India
Signalized Intersection Enhancements that Benefit Pedestrians


Biennial report ranks cities and states on walking and biking

The Alliance for Walking and Bicycling has released its third biennial Bicycling and Walking in the US: 2012 Benchmarking Report. The report offers government officials, advocates, and those working to promote bicycling and walking a variety of data from all 50 states and the nation's 51 largest cities.

Topics covered in the report include:

The report also includes data tables and graphs that show how states and cities stack up. Bicycling and Walking in the US: 2012 Benchmarking Report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through the additional support of AARP and Planet Bike. To download the report, go to http://www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/site/index.php/site/memberservices/2012_benchmarking_report/.

2010 saw the fewest fatalities from motor vehicle crashes in more than 60 years

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2010 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 32,885 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the US in 2010. That was the lowest total since 1949 and a 2.9 percent decline from 2009. Injuries, however, ticked up in 2010, with 2.24 million people injured in motor vehicle crashes, up from 2.22 million in 2009.

NHTSA released its annual FARS report in December 2011. The report breaks down crashes by several categories, including transportation mode, location of crash and alcohol involvement. While most transportation modes saw a decline in fatalities, large trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrian-involved fatal crashes saw a slight increase from 2009. Pedestrian fatalities climbed about 4 percent from 4,109 deaths in 2009 to 4,280 deaths in 2010. Estimated pedestrian injuries increased 19 percent from 59,000 in 2009 to 70,000 in 2010. Bicycle-related injuries and fatalities did not increase.

For more information, visit http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/811552.pdf.

FHWA releases updated countermeasure memorandum

The Federal Highway Administration's Office of Safety has updated its Guidance Memorandum on Promoting the Implementation of Proven Safety Counter Measures for 2012. The memorandum "highlights when and where (the FHWA) believes certain processes, design techniques, or safety countermeasures should be used."

The memorandum, last issued in 2008, provides information on nine countermeasures: Roundabouts, corridor access management, backplates with retroreflective borders, longitudinal rumble strips and stripes on two-lane roads, enhanced delineation and friction on for horizontal curves, safety edges, medians and pedestrian crossing islands in urban and suburban areas, pedestrian hybrid beacon, and road diet.

The FHWA notes that while agencies can still consider the application of all countermeasures listed in the 2008 memo, the 2012 guidance includes the latest safety research.

A link to the memo, along with details about all of the safety countermeasures, can be found at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures.

FHWA's Spotlight on Pedestrian Safety continues to show positive results

The Federal Highway Administration's Spotlight on Pedestrian Safety continues to produce positive results, according to the effort's latest update.

The effort has been working since 2004 to produce pedestrian safety improvements in cities and states with the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities. So far, the communities that have benefitted from the more than $1 million spent on the program have seen a 12.1 percent drop in fatalities and a 21.8 percent drop in the fatality rates. The most recent evaluation of the program, which included an analysis of bicycle related fatalities as well, suggested that federal officials work with its partner agencies to continue to "combine their safety-oriented resources and messages with design-, planning-, and operationally oriented resources to give State and local planners a more comprehensive look at all bicycle-pedestrian issues."

FHWA has renewed the program and is adjusting the list of areas for targeted improvements, adding new states and cities while removing some from the initial list. To read the full report, see http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/12janfeb/03.cfm.

2012 National Bike Summit

The 2012 National Bike Summit is set to take place March 20-22 in Washington, D.C. The Summit includes a full day of programming divided into six conference tracks: The Ask, Plan B, Capacity, Dirt, Economics and Friend Me. The full schedule is available at http://www.bikeleague.org/conferences/summit12/summit_schedule.php.

Online registration is open until March 15, though attendees can register onsite. For more information, visit this page or e-mail at Katie@bikeleague.org.

New APHA fact sheet on safe routes to school for children of all ages and abilities

Transportation systems and policies impact health in myriad ways, partly via providing safe streets and opportunities for physical activity. A new fact sheet from the American Public Health Association contains statistics and examples that highlight the connections between safe routes to school programs and health. Several health and transportation-related fact sheets are housed on APHA's transportation reports and fact sheets web page, and all are available for download. And be sure to check out APHA's new complete streets and health fact sheet online as well! Those fact sheets can be found at http://www.apha.org/advocacy/reports/facts/.

National Public Health Week coming in April 2012

The American Public Health Association is celebrating National Public Health Week 2012 from April 2 to 8. The theme for this year's health week is "A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement." NPHW will build upon the National Prevention Strategy to create a healthier nation by promoting healthy behaviors in several public health areas, including Active Living. You can download the NPHW brochure and sign up to receive updates on the NHPW website, nphw.org.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Issues in the News

The following is a brief compilation of pedestrian- and bicycle-related news stories from around the world. Web links to the following news stories are time sensitive, so some stories might not be accessible after the initial publication date without required registration.

Giving city streets built-in safety features
New York Times
Boulder study sheds light on bicycle, pedestrian accidents
Daily Camera
Kitsap County begins work plan for 'nonmotorized highway'
Kitsap Sun
Jefferson Street to be upgraded for pedestrians
The San Francisco Chronicle
More pedestrian signage on the horizon in Des Plains
Des Plains Patch
Quincy starts new pedestrian safety program
Boston Globe
Residents praise Delaney Street safety plan, but wish it could come sooner
Pedestrian medians under construction on Westmoreland Street
McLean Patch
Montgomery City Council passes 3-foot rule for bicyclists' safety
Montgomery Adviser
Bicyclists offer mixed views of Winnetka's tentative bikeway plans
Glencoe News
Bayshore bike lanes represent progress, more to come in 2014
Tampa Bay Times
Tulare County adopts 'Share the Road'
Visalia Times-Delta
Vehicle v. pedestrian accidents spike in Lee

Upcoming Events

ITE 2012 Technical Conference and Exhibit
Pasadena, CA
Ninth Active Living Research Annual Conference
San Diego, CA
2012 National Bike Summit
Washington, DC
National Main Streets Conference
Baltimore, MD
2012 APA National Planning Conference
Los Angeles, CA
32nd Annual National Recreation Resource Planning Conference
Baton Rouge, LA
The 20th Congress for the New Urbanism
West Palm Beach, FL
2012 Weight of the Nation
Washington, DC
Sixth International Conference on Pedestrian and Evacuation Dynamics - PED 2012
Zurich, Switzerland
Lifesavers Conference
Orlando, FL
Forth Urban Street Symposium
Chicago, IL
Velo-City Global 2012
Vancouver, BC

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

730 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Campus Box 3430
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430
Phone: 1.888.823.3977
Fax: 919.962.8710