Performance & Analysis

An important step in bicycle and pedestrian planning is to identify and prioritize locations needing planning and policy attention. A systematic procedure is needed to identify what (and where) countermeasures should be implemented. There will always be more areas that need support than funds available. Thus, a prioritization system needs to be developed to rank the various competing projects.

  • General options for focusing efforts
    • • Targeting areas in which it is urgent to act because the benefits would be considerable.
      • Identifying areas with highest actual or potential bicycle or pedestrian activity, but poor conditions, seems logical and politically acceptable.
      • Combining pedestrian- and/or bicycle-related projects with other investments (such as maintenance or resurfacing projects). This strategy can save time and money for future projects.
      • Starting with less controversial projects. For example, illumination may come first, as an agreement with the utility company makes it easy to do so right away. A more controversial countermeasure, such as a traffic circle, may have to wait until the political or design issues have been settled.
  • Options for geographically-focused efforts
    • • A location with a spatially-specific problem can be targeted.
      • A corridor problem may be evident at several sequential intersections or along the roadside of a corridor; investments may be required throughout the corridor, not just at a single location; fixing one location may not be enough.
      • A targeted-area problem may repeat itself in a neighborhood or other area where conditions are similar throughout. Similar to the corridor problem, the nature of the roadway is such that fixing a spot area may leave other potential areas untreated; the solutions are very likely to be the same all around the neighborhood. A neighborhood or targeted area problem may be common throughout a local area due to unique circumstances such as a large university, commercial or business district, or other neighborhood characteristic.
      • An entire jurisdiction problem is common to an entire city, county, or state and is usually caused by an undesirable practice such as failing to routinely install sidewalks or paved shoulders for pedestrians or failing to provide streetlights. Once it has been determined that a problem is one of these types, the next step is to determine whether the appropriate solution is an operational/construction, general design, or an education/enforcement approach. These approaches should usually be coupled with a policy change to ensure that the improvement is institutionalized.

Level and Quality of Service

When analyzing the level of service (LOS) for motorized traffic, engineers and planners tend to focus on speed, delay, and space. However, these factors aren’t as important for roadway users traveling by foot or by bike (or even transit). An LOS model for bicyclists and pedestrians incorporate “quality of service” by accounting for measures like comfort, safety, and ease of mobility. An LOS model can help determine areas where bicycle and pedestrian levels of service are insufficient and identify possible safety problems.

The 2010 Highway Capacity Manual (HCM 2010) includes methodologies for calculating a bicycle level of service (BLOS) and pedestrian level of service (PLOS). The LOS can be calculated for a variety of system elements, including signalized intersections and urban street segments. The resulting numeric score and grade of the pedestrian or bicycle environment is based on geometric design and other conditions, including the volume and speed of traffic in the outside travel lane, pavement condition, and heavy vehicle percentage. The HCM 2010 includes service measures for autos and transit, which can be analyzed and compared simultaneously with the level of service for bicyclists and pedestrians.

More information on bicycle and pedestrian level of service can be found in these videos developed by the Florida DOT available through PBIC's YouTube channel:

  1. A Summary of Florida's Multimodal Level of Service Research
  2. 2005 Ride for Science - Tampa
  3. 2004 Walk for Science - Sarasota
  4. 2002 Ride for Science - Orlando

Intersection Safety Indices

The Pedestrian and Bicyclist Intersection Safety Indices (ISI) are free tools that practitioners can use to prioritize pedestrian crossings and bicyclist intersection approaches with respect to safety. Bicyclists and pedestrians are considered separately since intersection characteristics affect these users differently. Sites with the highest ISI values should receive a more in-depth safety evaluation.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT)

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT) is a crash typing software product intended to assist state and local pedestrian/bicycle coordinators, planners and engineers with improving walking and bicycling safety through the development and analysis of a database containing details associated with crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists. Version 2.1.1 is now available for download.