Mar 292013
 

The AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 4th Edition is the definitive, nationally recognized set of standards governing key aspects of bikeway design, including bicycle facility design, planning and maintenance as well as bike parking.  It was released in 2012.  Please contact me if you want to view or borrow my copy.

The document costs $144, even for individuals.

The guide is used by thousands of government agencies across the U.S. to guide design and planning efforts.   However, citizens looking to review the document in order to participate in government decisions must either pay $144 for their own copy or find a hardcopy owned by someone else (or view the online version on the owner’s computer screen).  It’s unclear how many words of the guide you can quote (in a letter written to your local or state officials, for example) before running into copyright restrictions.

AASHTO allows you to view the table of contents at no charge.  Guide errata are viewable for free, just not the correct parts.

If you quote any parts of the document, consider sending between 1 and 14,400 checks for one cent each (according to the percentage of the document quoted) to:

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
444 N Capitol St. NW, Suite 249
Washington, DC 20001

The guide has some weaknesses.  For example:

  • It provides no guidance regarding protected bike lanes (or cycle tracks) an important new facility type.
  • It specifies dimensions for bike lanes and sharrows without making it clear that these should be treated as absolute minimum values, not default values (see photo).  This is likely to result in too many bike lanes and sharrows in the “door zone”.

Photo from 2012 AASHTO guide depicting bike lanes. Door zone issue is not noted.

Increasingly, designers are referring to an alternative set of standards called the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, which is free.  It avoids some of the shortcomings of the AASHTO guide.  The guide is published by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).  There is an online version of this guide as well as a print version (print version consists of two files, a base document and Annotated Plans).

The other essential guide at the federal level is the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD, which governs signs, pavement markings and signals.

You can also review the previous version of the AASHTO guide, published in 1999, here.

See also this overview of all state and local standards relevant to Montgomery County.

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