Managing Non-motorized Facilities

Best Practices For Managing Sidewalks and Pathways


TDM Encyclopedia

Victoria Transport Policy Institute


Updated 22 May 2014

This chapter describes best practices for managing non-motorized facilities such as walkways, sidewalks and paths. It provides guidelines for sharing such facilities among different types of users, public education and enforcement programs, and facility maintenance standards.


Wit and Humor

“Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change

from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow,” - Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.




Non-motorized facilities including walkways, sidewalks, crosswalks, paths, pedestrianized streets, pedestrian plazas, bike lanes and highway shoulders. These are developed through Complete Streets, Non-motorized and Carfree planning. Once established they require appropriate management and maintenance programs. Roadways are also used by non-motorized modes and so non-motorized users’ needs should be considered in roadway planning, management and maintenance.


Types of Non-motorized Facilities





Public paths and trails

Pedestrian streets

Bike lanes


Non-motorized facilities must often accommodate a diverse range of users and activities (called “modes”), including those listed below.


Non-motorized Facility User Categories (“Modes”)

People standing or sitting

People (usually children) playing games


Individual walkers

Groups of walkers

Walkers with pets

Walkers with strollers and handcarts

Walkers with physical disabilities

Hand-powered wheelchairs

Motorized wheelchairs

Joggers and runners

Skaters and skateboards


Children on bikes

Adults on bikes

Bicycles with trailers, tandems and three-wheelers

Electric powered bikes



Service and emergency vehicles



Different modes have different physical requirements and abilities. For example, some are more sensitive to surface irregularities or require more space than others. Although a person walking alone typically requires just 18-24 inches of width, a couple walking side-by-side, a person in a wheelchair or pushing a cart, a runner, bicyclist or person with a pet on a leash all require additional space.


Non-motorized facilities contain various types of “furniture” such as signposts, parking meters, mail boxes, garbage cans and sometimes cafe seating. When people pass each other or an object on the path, they require adequate shy distance (extra space between vehicles or pedestrians as they pass each other). Non-motorized facilities should also accommodate users’ need to stop along the public right-of-way, for example, to rest, enjoy a viewpoint or shop window, have a conversation, or play. Although a sidewalk or path may have a generous nominal width, its functional width may be much smaller due to various obstacles. In general, increased diversity requires wider sidewalks and paths to accommodate different types of users and avoid conflicts. Standard pedestrian level-of-service ratings often overlook these factors, resulting in designs that fail to accommodate users.


Conflicts sometimes develop over the use of non-motorized facilities. There are two general ways to address these conflicts:


·         Separate modes and restrict uses. For example, prohibit the use of skates, scooters and bicycles on sidewalks, with the assumption that they will use the roadway or will not be used at all in an area.


·         Manage facilities for shared use by establishing and promoting user behavior guidelines concerning maximum speed and which mode must yield to each other, and where necessary, establishing and enforcing regulations.


In practice, most non-motorized facilities have some degree of shared use. It is infeasible to create separate facilities for each mode everywhere, and conflicts can still develop even on separated facilities, for example, between walkers, wheelchair users and runners on a sidewalk, and between slow and fast cyclists on paths.


Rather than focusing on specific modes, it is usually more productive to manage non-motorized facilities based on the priority, performance and behavior of individual users. For example, although cyclists should generally ride on the road rather than a sidewalk, sidewalk cycling can be appropriate in some situations, such as when a child or other inexperienced cyclist rides along a busy arterial or bridge with narrow lanes, the adjacent sidewalk is adequately wide and has minimal traffic. Strict enforcement of a no-cycling-on-sidewalks rule will effectively prohibit cycling by some types of users (children and inexperienced adults) on some corridors. As a result, the no-cycling-on-sidewalks rule is often ignored by users and not enforced by officials because they consider it unreasonable.


Similarly, rather than debating whether electric powered vehicles such as motorized scooters and Segway ( belong on sidewalks or roadways, it may be more productive to identify under which conditions they belong on sidewalks and how they should behave when using them, and under which conditions they belong on roadways and their appropriate behavior there (Liu and Parthasarathy, 2003).


It is not usually the different modes that create conflicts as much as unsuitable user behavior. A 12 miles-per-hour (mph) runner does not belong on a crowded sidewalk any more than a cyclist or powered scooter at that speed, while a skater or cyclist going 6 mph is better off using a sidewalk, if it is not too crowded, than on a narrow roadway with high speed vehicle traffic.


In practice, virtually any non-motorized facility requires some degree of management involving a combination of education and enforcement regarding the safe and considerate sharing between different types of users. Table 1 compares various modes in terms of their priority (based on whether they help provide Basic Mobility or tend to be more recreational uses) and performance (size and speed). Of course, these are general factors that may need to be modified to address the needs of a particular situation.


Table 1     Non-motorized Facility Users Compared

User Type


Size (Width)


Risk to Others


People standing or sitting












Walkers with children


Medium to large

Medium to low



Walkers with pets


Medium to large

Medium to low

Moderate to High


Human powered wheelchairs



Low to medium



Motor powered wheelchairs






Joggers and runners

Medium to high





Skates, skateboards and push-scooters




Moderate to High


Powered scooters and electric human transporters (Segway)




Moderate to High


Handcarts, wagons and pushcarts


Medium to large

Low to medium

Moderate to High


Human powered bicycle

Medium to high

Medium to large

Medium to low

Moderate to High


Motorized bicycle


Medium to large

Medium to low

Moderate to High



Medium to high



Moderate to High


This table compares various modes that use non-motorized facilities.



This information can help decision-makers develop appropriate guidelines and regulations to manage the use of non-motorized facilities based on the performance and value of each mode. Below are examples:


·         Higher-priority modes should have priority to lower-priority modes. For example, recreational modes (such as skateboards) should yield to modes that provide Basic Mobility (such as walking and wheelchair users) if conflicts exist.


·         Lower-speed, smaller modes should be given priority over higher-speed, larger modes. For example, bicycles should yield to scooters, and scooters should yield to walkers.


·         Maximum speeds should be established for each mode, based on the physical design of the facility (i.e., some facilities may only accommodate 10 mph cycling, while others can accommodate 15 mph cycling). Maximum allowable speeds should decline as a pedestrian facility becomes more crowded or narrower.


·         If facilities cannot accommodate all potential modes, higher-priority modes should be allowed and lower-priority modes should be required to use roadways. For example, cycling, skating and equestrians may be allowed on pedestrian facilities at uncrowded times and locations, but not at busy times and locations.


·         Special efforts should be made to accommodate a wide range of users (including cyclists, skaters and runners) where there are no suitable alternative routes (e.g., adjacent roadways are unsuitable for such modes).


·         At least some public trails should be designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities, including people in wheelchairs (Universal Design). These should have washrooms and drinking fountains that meet accessibility standards.


·         Cyclists, skaters and motorized modes should reduce their speed when using mixed use paths (6-12 mph maximum, depending on conditions) and yield to non-motorized modes. People who want to go faster should use roadways.


·         Public officials should clearly indicate when and where pets are forbidden, when and where they are allowed if leashed, and when and where they may run free. It is important to have some parks where dogs may run unleashed.


·         Owners should be responsible for the behavior of their pets and clean up their droppings.


·         All modes should use extra caution when passing children and pets.


·         Special consideration may be given to equestrians, since horses are easily frightened and difficult to maneuver.


·         Users should be expected to clean up trash (including their pet’s droppings). Adequate garbage cans should be provided.



Many conflicts between users can be avoided by simply educating users. For example, public trails can have a code of conduct posted on signs and promoted on brochures and maps. Professional staff and volunteers can be stationed along trails at busy times to share information and get feedback from users. User organizations (walking and cycling clubs, equestrian groups) are often willing to help. 


Sharing the Path

The following are guidelines for cyclists on how to share public trails, from the League of American Bicyclists’ “Sharing the Path Better Bicycling Fact Sheet” (


1. Courtesy

Respect other trail users; joggers, walkers, bladers, wheelchairs all have trail rights.

Respect slower cyclists; yield to slower users.

Obey speed limits; they are posted for your safety.


2. Announce when passing.

Use a bell, horn or voice to indicate your intention to pass.

Warn other well in advance so you do not startle them.

Clearly announce "On your left" when passing.


3. Yield when entering and crossing.

Yield to traffic at places where the trail crosses the road.

Yield to other users at trail intersections.

Slow down before intersections and when entering the trail from the road.


4. Keep right

Stay as close to the right as possible, except when passing.

Give yourself enough room to maneuver around any hazards.

Ride single file to avoid possible collisions with other trail users.


5. Pass on left

Scan ahead and behind before announcing your intention to pass another user.

Pull out only when you are sure the lane is clear.

Allow plenty of room, about two bike lengths, before moving back to the right.


6. Be predictable

Travel in a straight line unless you are avoiding hazards or passing.

Indicate your intention to turn or pass.

Warn other users of your intentions.


7. Use lights at night

Most trail users will not have lights at night; use a white front and red rear light.

Watch for walkers as you will overtake them the fastest.

Reflective clothing does not help in the absence of light.


8. Do not block the trail

For group rides, use no more than half the trail; don't hog the trail.

During heavy use periods (holidays and weekends) stay single file.

Stop and regroup completely off of the trail.


9. Clean up litter.

Pack out more than you pack in.

Encourage others to respect the path.

Place all litter in its proper receptacle.


10. Limitations for transportation.

Most paths were not designed for high-speed, high volume traffic.

Use paths keeping in mind their recreational nature.

It might be faster to use roads and avoid the traffic on the paths during heavy use.



The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (FHWA, 2000) includes standard “Share the Road” and “Share the Trail” signs, and guidelines for the design of advisory signs. The following factors should be considered when developing information materials:

·         Accuracy - it reflects current rules and laws.

·         Clarity - the important concepts easy to understand and apply.

·         Accessibility – it attractive and easily available to the intended audience.



Trail Etiquette (From the Seattle Bicycling Guide Map (


All Users

  • Show Courtesy to other trail users at all times.
  • Use the right side of the trail except when otherwise designated.
  • Always pass on the right.
  • Keep dogs on leash (maximum length 8 feet) and remove pet feces from trail.



  • Yield to pedestrians.
  • Give audible warning when passing pedestrians or other cyclists.
  • Ride at a safe speed. Slow down and form a single file in congested conditions, reduced visibility, and other hazardous conditions.



  • Stay to the right side of the trail except when otherwise designated.
  • Watch for other trail users.
  • Listen for audible signals and allow faster trail users (runners and bicyclists) to pass safely.


(This map also includes the text of state and local traffic laws related to bicycling, and other helpful cycling information.)



Multi-Use Trail Etiquette (

The following text is included in maps and brochures for the Galloping Goose trail in Victoria, BC.

The key word is multi-use. Share the trail. Keep right except to pass. Motorized vehicles are prohibited (except for motorized wheelchairs). Respect private property adjacent to the trail.

·     If you’re on foot or on wheels, pass horseback riders with caution – horses can spook at startling noises or motions.

·     If you’re on horseback, let other trail user know when your horse is safe to pass.

·     If you’re cycling, yield to pedestrians, control your speed, and warn – call out or use a bell – other trail users before passing.

·     If you’re walking your dog, keep it under control or on a leash, and please pick up its droppings.



The report Conflicts on Multiple-Use Trails: Synthesis of the Literature and State of the Practice (Moore, 1994) provides guidelines for developing programs to manage trails, which are summarized below. Although this report is primarily concerned with recreational, off-road trails, the guidelines are generally appropriate for managing any non-motorized facilities, including sidewalks and bicycle paths.


Twelve Principles For Minimizing Conflicts On Multiple-Use Trails


1. Recognize Conflict as Goal Interference - Do not treat conflict as an inherent incompatibility among different trail activities, but goal interference attributed to another's behavior.


2. Provide Adequate Trail Opportunities - Offer adequate trail mileage and provide opportunities for a variety of trail experiences. This will help reduce congestion and allow users to choose the conditions that are best suited to the experiences they desire.


3. Minimize Number of Contacts in Problem Areas - Each contact among trail users (as well as contact with evidence of others) has the potential to result in conflict. So, as a general rule, reduce the number of user contacts whenever possible. This is especially true in congested areas and at trailheads. Disperse use and provide separate trails where necessary after careful consideration of the additional environmental impact and lost opportunities for positive interactions this may cause.


4. Involve Users as Early as Possible - Identify the present and likely future users of each trail and involve them in the process of avoiding and resolving conflicts as early as possible, preferably before conflicts occur. For proposed trails, possible conflicts and their solutions should be addressed during the planning and design stage with the involvement of prospective users. New and emerging uses should be anticipated and addressed as early as possible with the involvement of participants. Likewise, existing and developing conflicts on present trails need to be faced quickly and addressed with the participation of those affected.


5. Understand User Needs - Determine the motivations, desired experiences, norms, setting preferences, and other needs of the present and likely future users of each trail. This "customer" information is critical for anticipating and managing conflicts.


6. Identify the Actual Sources of Conflict - Help users to identify the specific tangible causes of any conflicts they are experiencing. In other words, get beyond emotions and stereotypes as quickly as possible, and get to the roots of any problems that exist.


7. Work with Affected Users - Work with all parties involved to reach mutually agreeable solutions to these specific issues. Users who are not involved as part of the solution are more likely to be part of the problem now and in the future.


8. Promote Trail Etiquette - Minimize the possibility that any particular trail contact will result in conflict by actively and aggressively promoting responsible trail behavior. Use existing educational materials or modify them to better meet local needs. Target these educational efforts, get the information into users' hands as early as possible, and present it in interesting and understandable ways.


9. Encourage Positive Interaction Among Different Users - Trail users are usually not as different from one another as they believe. Providing positive interactions both on and off the trail will help break down barriers and stereotypes, and build understanding, good will, and cooperation. This can be accomplished through a variety of strategies such as sponsoring "user swaps," joint trail-building or maintenance projects, filming trail-sharing videos, and forming Trail Advisory Councils.


10. Favor "Light-Handed" Management - Use the most "light-handed approaches" that will achieve area objectives. This is essential in order to provide the freedom of choice and natural environments that are so important to trail-based recreation. Intrusive design and coercive management are not compatible with high-quality trail experiences.


11. Plan and Act Locally - Whenever possible, address issues regarding multiple-use trails at the local level. This allows greater sensitivity to local needs and provides better flexibility for addressing difficult issues on a case-by-case basis. Local action also facilitates involvement of the people who will be most affected by the decisions and most able to assist in their successful implementation.


12. Monitor Progress - Monitor the ongoing effectiveness of the decisions made and programs implemented. Conscious, deliberate monitoring is the only way to determine if conflicts are indeed being reduced and what changes in programs might be needed. This is only possible within the context of clearly understood and agreed upon objectives for each trail area.



Using Bike Lanes

The following are guidelines for cyclists on how to use bike lanes, from the League of American Bicyclists’ “How To Ride in Bike Lanes Better Bicycling Fact Sheet” (


1.Safety considerations.

Bikes are not required to travel in bike lanes when preparing for turns.

Never ride within three feet of parked cars; beware of the door zone.

Avoid bike lanes that you think are poorly designed or unsafe; alert your local government.



Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turn lane.

Bike lanes should stop before an intersection to allow for bikes to make left turns.

Always signal as you move out of a bike lane into another traffic lane.



Report obstructions and poor maintenance to your local government.

Avoid riding immediately adjacent to curbs where trash collects.

If debris forces you out of the bike lane, signal your move out into traffic.


4.Parked cars

Never ride within three feet of parked cars.

Watch for brake lights, front wheels, signals and driver movements.

Position yourself in the field of vision of a motorist pulling out of a parking space.


5.Right turns

Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turning motorist.

Move out of the right turn lane if you are not turning right.

Ride in the rightmost lane that goes in the direction that you are travelling.


6.Left turns

Move out of the bike lane well in advance of the intersection; signal every move.

Position yourself in the rightmost left-turning lane.

Reposition yourself after executing the turn; remain clear of parked cars.



Safety Programs

Pedestrian and bicycle safety training can reduce conflicts and increase Security, particularly for children. A number of resources are now available to assist parents, teachers, and traffic agencies develop suitable programs based on a realistic appreciation of children’s learning and behavior comprehension.


Pedestrian Education for Children

Children on the Move ( is a website that provides information on children’s transportation safety.


Kerbcraft; Smart Strategies for Pedestrian Safety (1998), UK Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions ( A curriculum for teaching children how to cross streets where there is no traffic signal.


NHTSA (1999), Pedestrian Safety Toolkit, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (


Perils for Pedestrians ( is a cable television series promoting awareness of issues affecting pedestrian safety. Their website includes advocacy tips and links to other pedestrian organizations.


Problems of Attention and Visual Search in the Context of Child Pedestrian,  Behaviour, UK DETR, (, 1999. 


Pedestrian/Bicyclist Resource Kit, FHWA (


Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool, FHWA-RD-99-192, FHWA (202-493-3315;


Speed Kills, The Benefits of Slower Speeds, and Why Reduce Speeds, UK Anti-speed Campaign (


Study Addresses Safety Of Children On Their Way To And From School,  CUTR, (, 1998.


Bicycle Safety Education

BTS, Pedestrian and Cycling Publications, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, USDOT, (


The Bicycle Information Center ( provides information on non-motorized transport planning and programs.


Canadian Cycling Association ( manages the Can-Bike cycling education program.


Anne Fritzel (2000), Smart Moves for Washington Schools, Climate Solutions (


League of American Bicyclists Education Programs ( provides a variety of resources.


Way To Go! School Program ( provides a variety of safety education strategies and materials, and information on increasing walking and cycling to school.



Planning for Large Pedestrian Crowds

Experience from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, by Ian Napier, Secretary, Pedestrian Council of Australia


Up to half a million pedestrians were moved in, out or through the Homebush Bay site on the busier days of competition and from my observation and others reports it worked very well. The lessons from it were:


·         Avoid, where possible, two-way pedestrian routes. (The main flows were organised in huge one-way converging and diverging loops and where necessary temporary overpasses had been put in so that the conflicting flows could cross.)


·         Keep people moving where possible. This of course has its limits. People will start to resent being moved just for the sake of it especially if they know the territory and are aware that they are being sent the long way round. Generally there is the reassurance however that one is making progress.


·         Keep people informed at all times. The information is in a number of forms ­ the fixed signs using internationally recognisable symbols wherever possible, -large programmable message screens (more familiar as warning signs for roadworks on highways), - people with loud hailers on raised positions able to direct and inform the crowds, easily identified staff (in this case usually volunteers) able to monitor progress and answer questions at ground level. ­ fixed and clearly identified information booths.


·         Keep people amused/entertained- here we were blessed with an army (not THE army, although they were in the background if needed) of good natured, tolerant, and often very amusing, volunteers who have been hailed as the secret of Sydney. Street performers and musicians were located at critical points where queues were anticipated. There were even stories of railway staff breaking into song and announcing trains in rhyming couplets.


·         Provide escape routes and eddy spaces so that people don’t feel trapped in crowds


·         Provide shady and sheltered places that people can rest and relax between events.


·         Provide diversions for children of all ages.


·         Build in sufficient flexibility to cope with varying numbers and unexpected eventualities. For example, queuing races (barriers used to shape lines) can be short circuited when the crowds are smaller.


·         Raising (or lowering as the case may be) expectations in order to modify behaviour. By the time the Olympics arrived no one in their right mind expected that they could drive all the way to events. They expected queues and long walks and in the end seemed to accept that with good humour.



Traffic Law Enforcement

Appropriate traffic law enforcement can prevent conflicts and collisions, and help instill lifelong traffic safety habits in young people. A teenager who has spent years violating bicycle traffic laws with impunity is being poorly prepared to become a responsible car driver. Safety experts recommend targeting the following cycle traffic violations:

·         Motorist’s failure to yield or stop for pedestrians and cyclists when required by traffic law.

·         Excessive motor vehicle speed.

·         Intoxicated driver and cyclists.

·         Cyclist’s failure to yield when required by traffic law.

·         Cyclist riding in the wrong direction, against traffic.

·         Cyclists riding at night with inadequate lighting.



An effective enforcement program must overcome various barriers. Police officers may be unfamiliar with traffic rules and laws as they apply to bicycles, cyclists’ rights to use the roadway, or how to effectively enforce bicycle traffic laws. Non-motorized traffic violations, particularly by children, tend to be considered a low priority by officials and the general community. Standard traffic fines may appear excessive for children. Cyclists and pedestrians may ignore citations unless police departments develop a suitable processing system.


A bicycle “diversion” program allows offending cyclists to take a cycling safety workshop as an alternative to paying a traffic fine (i.e., they are “diverted” from the court system). Police departments can run such workshops internally or contract with an outside expert. Such programs are popular because they emphasize safety rather than punishment, and help develop cooperation among police, parents, and bicycle safety advocates. Scout troops, school groups, and parents often attend the safety workshops voluntarily. Here’s how such programs typically work:


·         Cyclist is ticketed for violating a traffic law.


·         If the cyclist is a child, police send a standard letter to their parents describing the violation, emphasizing the importance of observing bicycle traffic laws for the sake of safety, asking the parent to bring the child to a bicycle safety workshop (typically offered monthly or semi-monthly) within a specified time period (such as three months), and inviting the parent to contact the program coordinator if they have any questions.


·         If the cyclist attends the workshop the traffic ticket is void.


·         If the cyclist fails to attend the workshop in the specified period, the ticket is processed.


·         Police and courts coordinate to allow efficient processing of cyclist traffic tickets.



Facility Maintenance

It is not enough to simply build facilities for non-motorized travel. A non-motorized facility plan should include maintenance policies. It should identify the agencies responsible for maintaining facilities, the maintenance standards that are to be applied, how users should report maintenance needs, and special activities such as snow clearing and litter cleanup.



Minimum Cycling Dimensions

Walton and Murray (2012) measured how cyclists passed pinch points in cycle lanes and road shoulders to determine the relationship between the width of available space for a cyclist and the likelihood of a cyclist traversing the edge line and moving into the motorised vehicle stream. They reached the following conclusions:


  1. Cyclists need at least 0.4m of clear space to the right (left in left-hand drive jurisdictions) edge-line at a pinch point which will afford a continuous trajectory or path continuity. When provided with 0.4m to 0.8m almost all cyclists will ride left of the white line despite the presence of a pinch point.


  1. If the far right of the roadside has an object higher than 0.1m then the minimum space to preserve a cycle trajectory is 0.5m. Where objects encroach on a cyclist’s handlebars (eg fences) there should be 1m of clear space for the cyclist. Although the risk of doors opening from parked cars was not studied specifically, with only one site having parked cars as an obstacle, these will require additional site-specific design considerations when accounting for cyclist space.


  1. In narrow lanes or shoulders, cyclists will often keep just to the right of the lane line or edge line, despite having extra clear, well-maintained space further to the right in which to ride. When provided with 1.1m of space, most (around 80%) cyclists remain within 40mm of the edge line.


  1. Cyclists anticipate pinch points and will minimise the angle of approach, given available space and forewarning of the narrow point. Any pinch point with a sight line of at least 20m will allow the cyclist to negotiate the site and give the perception of maintaining a steady course.


  1. 1.5m of space or more (eg to match design guidance) is preferred by cyclists. However, there is evidence from this research that at pinch points extending over short distances (eg 5m, the approximate length of the longest pinch point in the study) there is a continuity advantage in providing cycling space down to a width of 0.5m.


  1. Cyclists on mountain bikes are considerably more variable in their behaviour and much less likely to be influenced by the presence of roadside objects.



Trail and Path Maintenance

·         Establish a maintenance policy and plan – Establish written procedures that specify maintenance standards, schedule, quality control, and follow-up that will be used for pedestrian facilities, based on “current best practices.”


·         Repairs – Inspect trails and paths regularly for surface irregularities, such as potholes and cracks, and damage to signage and lighting. Repair potentially hazardous conditions quickly. 


·         Cleaning – Maintain a high standard of cleanliness. Provide adequate garbage cans and regular garbage pickup.


·         Establish a citizen reporting system – Encourage citizens to report pedestrian and bicycle facility maintenance needs, garbage and graffiti, and other problems. Publicize a particular telephone number and email address for submitting information.


·         Sweeping - Establish a seasonal sweeping schedule. In curbed areas sweepings should be picked up, on open shoulders, debris can be swept onto gravel shoulders. In the fall, provide extra sweepings to pick up fallen leaves.


·         Vegetation – Vegetation may impede sight lines, or roots may break up the travel surface.  Vegetation should be cut back to ensure adequate sight lines, and intrusive tree roots may be cut back to keep the walkway surface smooth and level.


·         Drainage – Malfunctioning drainage systems may cause accumulations of water at pedestrian crossings.


·         Snow Removal – Snow and ice can make pedestrian travel slow and hazardous. Snow should be removed from sidewalks to ensure safe passage of pedestrian facilities.


·         Animal control – Establish guidelines for pet behavior. Indicate where dogs must be leashed and where they may run free. Require dog owners to remove droppings, and provide adequate garbage cans. Some communities even maintain a supply of plastic bags along trails, to help dog owners perform this service.


·         Street Markings – bike lane and crosswalk markings may become difficult to see over time. These should be inspected regularly and retraced when necessary.


·         Utility Cuts – Poorly performed sidewalk cuts for utilities may leave an interrupted surface for pedestrians. Cuts in sidewalk should be back filled with concrete to the sidewalk grade – so the result is as smooth as a new sidewalk.


·         Volunteers and Sponsorships – where funding is limited, volunteers and sponsors can help patrol, clean and maintain public trails and related facilities.



Roadway Maintenance

What may be an adequate pavement surface for automobiles (with four wide, low-pressure tires) can be hazardous for cyclists (two, high-pressure tires). Small rocks, branches, and other debris can deflect a wheel, minor ridges in the pavement can cause spills, and potholes can cause wheel rims to bend. Wet leaves are slippery and cause cyclists to fall. Gravel blown off the travel land by traffic accumulates in the area where bicyclists ride. Broken glass can easily puncture tires. Below are some types of targeted maintenance:


·         Surface Repairs – Inspect bikeways and road shoulders regularly for surface irregularities, such as potholes, pavement gaps or ridges. Such hazards should be repaired quickly. 


·         Sweeping - Establish a sweeping schedule. Sweeping road shoulders of accumulated sand and gravel in the springtime, and fallen leaves in the autumn where they accumulate. Sweepings should be picked up rather than just pushed aside in areas with curbs. Driveway approaches may be paved to reduce loose gravel on paved roadway shoulders.


·         Pavement Overlays – Where new pavement is installed, extend the overlay to the edge of the roadway. If this is not possible, ensure that no ridge remains at the edge of the road shoulder or bike lane. Do not leave a ridge within the bike travel area. Drain grates should be within 6 millimetres of the pavement height to create a smooth travel surface. Special attention should be given to ensure that utility covers and other road hardware are flush with new pavement.


·         Rail Crossings – Rail crossings can be hazardous to cyclists, particularly if they are at an oblique angle. Warning signs and extra space at the road shoulder can allow cyclists to cross at a 90º angle. A special smooth concrete apron or rubber flange may be justified at some crossings.


·         VegetationVegetation may impede sight lines, or roots may break up the travel surface. Vegetation should be cut back to ensure adequate sight lines, and invasive tree roots may be cut back to preserve the travel surface.


·         Street Markings – bike lane markings signal loop indicators may become hard to see over time. These should be inspected regularly and retraced when necessary.


·         Snow removal – Road plowing should extend into the lane space used by cyclists. Spot salting intersections often creates a hazardous icy patch just past the melted intersection. Trails that get significant winter cycling should be plowed unless they are relegated to ski/snowshoe users.


·         Roadway Markings – Whenever roadway markings are used, traction or non-skid paint should be used to avoid the markings becoming slippery in wet weather.



Related Chapters

For more information on ways to improve and encourage non-motorized modes see Non-motorized Transportation Planning, Pedestrian Improvements, Bicycling Improvements, Universal Design, Complete Streets, Non-motorized Encouragement, Bicycle Parking and Evaluating Non-motorized Transport. For information on creating more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly street conditions see Traffic Calming, Carfree Planning, Vehicle Restrictions, Speed Reductions, Smart Growth, Address Security Concerns and Context Sensitive Design. For integrating non-motorized transportation with transit see Bike/Transit Integration and Transit Oriented Development.



Best Practices

Below are some best practices for reducing user conflicts on non-motorized facilities.

·              Recognize that trail conflicts may exist.

·              Provide adequate trail opportunities.

·              Minimize the number of contacts between users in problem areas.

·              Involve users as early as possible in planning trails.

·              Understand user needs.

·              Identify the actual sources of conflict.

·              Work with affected users.

·              Promote trail etiquette. Post a “Code of Conduct” on signs and printed on maps.

·              Maintain cleanliness, including removal of dog excrement.

·              Encourage positive interactions among different users.

·              Favor “light-handed management” (i.e., education before enforcement).

·              Plan and act locally.

·              Monitor progress.


Wit and Humor

A woman rushes to see her doctor, looking worried and strung out. She rattles off: “Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What's WRONG with me, Doctor!?”


The doctor looks her over for a couple of minutes, then calmly says, “Well, I can tell you that there isn’t anything wrong with your eyesight…”



Examples and Case Studies

A New Approach to Improving Cycling; Bicycle Diversion Training Programs

by Eleanor Lippman, California Association of Bicycling Organizations Newsletter, CommuniCABO, Fall 2000


We all know that bicyclists are expected to operate their bicycles by the same rules of the road as do motorists. Both bicyclists and motorists have equal responsibility to follow all laws and regulations in the vehicle code. However, the question of what to do about bicycle scofflaws often comes up. Should police actively enforce the laws and ticket bicyclists for infractions of the vehicle code?


Several cities have looked at the statistics pertaining to bicycle collisions and have concluded that deaths and injuries to cyclists can be significantly reduced by education and training bicyclists as compared to merely recommending the use of a bicycle helmet.


Since studies clearly show that bicyclists are solely at fault in about half of the reported crashes resulting in injury or death, some police departments are addressing the issue directly using a refreshingly new concept called Bicycle Diversion Training programs. Rather than police issuing tickets to bicyclists leaving riders no option but to pay hefty fines (and possibly have the infraction appear on their driving records), some cities are using the Bicycle Diversion Training Program to change the behavior of bicyclists.


How does Bicycle Diversion Training Program work? Police (ideally police who are trained cyclists and understand how the vehicle code applies to bicycles) issue tickets to bicyclists who break traffic laws. Instead of paying a fine (running a red light results in a fine of $271) or making a court appearance, the cyclist is offered the opportunity to attend a safety training workshop. Training is designed for the age level of the bicyclist; it includes rules of the road, common traffic events and proper response, equipment and clothing that contributes to bicycle safety. In some cases, training includes videos and practical exercises including the use of mock cities or actual trips on city streets. Training ends with a test to emphasize important teaching points and participants who complete the program are given a gift that relates to safety (such as a helmet or headlight). The goal is to provide training to change behavior rather than to be punitive.


Bicycle Diversion Training Programs are established and effective. Tempe, Arizona, University of California at Davis through their Transportation and Parking Services, Huntington Beach, California, as well as Walnut Creek and Brentwood in Contra Costa County California, have adopted Bicycle Diversion Training Programs. The advocates among us would do well to spread the word to public officials to encourage all local jurisdictions to develop their own programs.


We can make a difference by contacting local officials and encouraging them to establish:   

·         An education program for bicyclists.

·         A program that in lieu of paying a traffic fine or going to court, bicyclists can attend an education program and finally.

·         An end to police turning a blind eye to illegal and unsafe bicycling practices.



References And Resources For More Information


Troels Andersen, et al. (2012), Collection of Cycle Concepts, Cycling Embassy of Denmark (; at


Alliance for Biking & Walking ( is a coalition of local and state bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations that provides information and support for advocacy and planning.


Alta Consulting (2001), Rails-With-Trails: Lessons Learned, U.S. Dept. of Transportation (; at


America Walks ( is a non-profit organization that supports walking improvements.


Bill Brunton (2006), Electric Personal Assistance Mobility Devices” (EPAMD) I.E. Segways – Considerations Before Recognition As A Disability Device In Ontario, Report For Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Innovative Mobility (


Bicycle Information Center ( provides information on non-motorized transport planning and programs.


Complete Streets ( is a campaign to promote roadway designs that effectively accommodate multiple modes and support local planning objectives.


FHWA (2000), Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Federal Highway Administration (


FHWA (2012), “Traffic Monitoring For Non-Motorized Traffic,” Traffic Monitoring Guide, US Federal Highway Administration (; at


Megan Fowler, Warren Lloyd and Cameron Munro (2010), Shared Path Widths, Via Strada (, for VicRoads; at; summary poster at  


Thomas Gotschi and Kevin Mills (2008), Active Transportation For America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking, Rails To Trails Conservancy (; at


Edward L. Hillsman, Sara J. Hendricks and JoAnne K. Fiebe (2012), A Summary of Design, Policies and Operational Characteristics for Shared Bicycle/Bus Lanes, Project No. BDK85 977-32, National Center for Transit Research (, Florida Department of Transportation; at


ITDP (2011), Better Street, Better Cities: A Guide To Street Design In Urban India, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (; at


ITE (2001), Alternative Treatments for At-Grade Pedestrian Crossings, Institute of Transportation Engineers (; summary at


Todd Litman (2003), “Economic Value of Walkability,” Transportation Research Record 1828, Transportation Research Board (, pp. 3-11; available at


Todd Litman (2005), Whose Roads? Evaluating Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways, VTPI (; available at


Todd Litman (2006), “Managing Diverse Modes and Activities on Non-motorized Facilities: Guidance for Practitioners,” ITE Journal, Vol. 76, No. 6 (, June 2006, pp. 20-27; at


Todd Litman (2013), Evaluating Active Transport Benefits and Costs: Guide to Valuing Walking and Cycling Improvements and Encouragement Programs, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at; originally published as “Bicycling and Transportation Demand Management,” Transportation Research Record 1441, 1994, pp. 134-140.


Rongfang (Rachel) Liu and Rohini Parthasarathy (2003), Urban Street: Is There Room for Segway Human Transporter (HT)?, 2nd Urban Street Symposium, Anaheim, California (


Roger L. Moore (1994), Conflicts on Multiple-Use Trails: Synthesis of the Literature and State of the Practice, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-PD-94-031, distributed by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking (; available at


NACTO (2012), Urban Bikeway Design Guide, National Association of City Transportation Officials (; at


NHTSA, Resource Guide on Laws Related to Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (, contains a compilation of U.S. vehicle and traffic laws that affect walking or cycling.


R.S. Patten, et al (2006), Shared Use Path Level of Service Calculator: A User’s Guide, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (, US Department of Transport Federal Highways Administration; at


PBIC, Image Library (, by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center ( provides an extensive collection of photographs related to walking and cycling.


Pedestrian Information Center ( is a pedestrian planning and safety information clearinghouse supported by the Federal Highway Administration.


Probike/Prowalk ( organizes conferences on pedestrian and bicycle planning.


Amanda Taylor Poncy, Hannah Twaddell and Jana Lynott (2012), Policy and Design Considerations for Accommodating Low-Speed Vehicles and Golf Carts in Community Transportation Networks, AARP Public Policy Institute (; at


PROWAC (2007), Accessible Public Rights-of-Way: Planning and Designing for Alterations, Public Rights of Way Access Advisory Committee, Access Board (; at


Kent Robertson (1990), “the Status of the Pedestrian Mall in American Downtowns,” Urban Affairs Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 2, Dec. 1990, pp. 250-273.


Collin Roughton, et al. (2012), Creating Walkable and Bikeable Communities: A User Guide to Developing Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans, Center for Transportation Studies at Portland State University (; at


Sterling (2013), Cycling Safety–Considerations For Users And Designers, Australian Office of Road Safety (; at


VTSP (2003), Trail Safety and Courtesy for Bicyclists and Users of Other Wheeled Devices, Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol (


Darren Walton and Stephen J. Murray (2012), Minimum Design Parameters For Cycle Connectivity, Report 432, NZ Transport Agency (; at


Charles Zeeger, et al (2002), Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide: Providing Safety and Mobility, Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (, Highway Safety Research Center, Federal Highway Administration, Publication FHWA-RD-01-102.

This Encyclopedia is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to help improve understanding of Transportation Demand Management. It is an ongoing project. Please send us your comments and suggestions for improvement.




Encyclopedia Homepage

Send Comments


Victoria Transport Policy Institute

1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC,  V8V 3R7,  CANADA

Phone & Fax 250-360-1560

“Efficiency - Equity - Clarity”