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  • Posted Jul 12, 2015

What does Des Moines have to do to be a SILVER Bicycle Friendly Community?

As you may know, Des Moines retained the BRONZE Bicycle Friendly Community status and did not receive SILVER.

The BRONZE award will be current for four years, so the designation will be up for renewal in August 2019. At that point Des Moines will be reevaluated. As fellow cyclists, PLEASE read through these recommendations, get involved and help to make as many improvements as possible in the meantime.

Words from the Bicycle Friendly Community Program Manager at the League of American Bicyclists...

Our Bicycle Friendly Community review panel was very pleased to see the current efforts and dedication to make Des Moines a safe, comfortable and convenient place to bicycle.

Below, reviewers provided recommendations to help you further promote bicycling in Des Moines. Key recommendations are highlighted in bold.

We strongly encourage you to use this feedback to build on your momentum and improve your community for bicyclists.

There may also be initiatives, programs, and facilities that are not mentioned here that would benefit your bicycling culture, so please continue to try new things to increase your ridership, safety, and awareness.

The cost of bicycle facilities and possible funding options are discussed on the last page of this report.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Engineering

Provide formal implementation guidance for your Complete Streets policy.

Develop a design manual that ensures the safe and appropriate accommodation of bicyclists or endorse the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

Develop and implement streetscape design guidelines that foster a pleasant and comfortable environment for pedestrians and cyclists. Beautiful streetscaping has also shown to increase community livability and pride, reduce crime and increase property values.

Require a mix of uses throughout the community or adopt a form or design-based code to allow for flexible land uses that provide a convenient and more comfortable built environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

Consider changing downtown one way roads to two way to improve network connectivity and shorten distances. Ensure to add bike lanes when a road is restriped.

Ensure good connectivity of your street network by adopting connectivity policies or standards. A well connected street network is associated with more walking, biking, and transit use due to greater directness of travel and more route choice options.

Regulations that require bike parking for new developments and major renovations of existing developments can secure private funding. See this model bicycle parking ordinance for guidance.

Pass an ordinance that would require larger employers to provide shower and locker facilities.

Continue to increase the amount of high quality bicycle parking throughout the community. Ensure that people arriving by bicycle have a secure and legal place to lock their bikes at popular destinations.

Continue to expand the bike network, especially along arterials, downtown and outside of downtown, through the use of different types of bicycle facilities. On roads where automobile speeds regularly exceed 35 mph, it is recommended to provide protected bicycle infrastructure such as protected bike lanes/cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes or parallel 10ft wide shared-use paths (in low density areas).

Note that shared lane markings should only be used on low speed roads. On-street improvements coupled with the expansion of the off-street system will encourage more people to cycle and will improve safety. Ensure good connections for bicyclists between the local and regional trail network, bicycle facilities such as Ewing Park, and the street network. These improvements will also increase the effectiveness of encouragement efforts by providing a broader range of facility choices for users of various abilities and comfort levels.

Ensure that all new and existing bicycle facilities conform to current best practices and guidelines – such as the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide (preferred), 2012 AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities and your DOT’s own guidelines. Upgrade substandard facilities to improve safety and usability.

Adequately maintain your off street bicycle infrastructure to ensure usability and safety. Increase the frequency of sweepings, remove snow quickly and consistently and address potholes and other hazards faster. Learn more about funding bicycle facility maintenance.

Continue to make intersections safer and more comfortable for cyclists. For example, stripe green bike lanes in high risk intersections such as at the corner of Beaver and 41st street, 3rd Avenue and Grand, and 31st Street and Kingman Blvd.
Provide adequate lighting along key shared-use paths to allow for safer bike commuting before dawn and after dusk.

Education

Bicycle-safety education should be a routine part of primary and secondary education, and schools and the surrounding neighborhoods should be particularly safe and convenient for biking and walking. Work with your local bicycle groups or interested parents to develop and implement a Safe Routes to School program for all schools. Click here for an exemplary bicycle safety curriculum designed for fourth and fifth grade students. For more information on Safe Routes to School, see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Safe Routes To School Toolkit or visit www.saferoutesinfo.org.

Continue to expand your public education campaign promoting the Share the Road message. Ensure that the campaign message clearly conveys that both motorists and cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road. Use Share the Road street signs that could be interpreted as being directed only at cyclists with caution. Some communities prefer to use the regulatory "Bikes May Use Full Lane" sign instead.

Conduct a distracted driver campaign to increase awareness. The NHTSA provides a Distracted Driver Campaign Starting Kit.

Offer bicycling skills training opportunities for adults more frequently or encourage your local bicycle advocacy group or bike shop to help. There are options from short videos and 1-2 hour courses to more in-depth training incorporating in-classroom and on-bike instruction. Other education materials, such as the League Quick Guide, offer the opportunity to share bike education in an easily accessible format. For more information visit: http://bikeleague.org/ridesmart.


Encouragement

Step up promoting bicycling as a means of transportation. For example, celebrate Bike to Work Day.

Encourage local businesses to provide discounts for customers arriving by bicycle or promote existing bicycle discount programs.

Encourage more local businesses, agencies, and organizations to promote cycling to their employees and customers and to seek recognition through the Bicycle Friendly Business program. Businesses will profit from a healthier, happier and more productive workforce while the community will benefit from less congestion, better air quality, increased amenities and new destinations for cyclists, new and powerful partners in advocating for bike infrastructure and programs, and business-sponsored public bike events or classes. Your community’s government should be the model employer for local businesses, and your chamber of commerce or local business association can help promote the program and its benefits. The League offers many tools to help promote the Bicycle Friendly Business program in your community.

Encourage Drake University, Des Moines University, Grand View University and other local institutions of higher education to promote cycling to students, staff, and faculty and to seek recognition through the Bicycle Friendly University program. Many colleges and universities have embraced the growing enthusiasm for more bicycle-friendly campuses by incorporating bike share programs, bike co-ops, bicycling education classes and policies to promote bicycling as a preferred means of transportation. The community will benefit as well: Communities near BFUs have a higher number of regular bicyclists (as many students bike to campus, shops and restaurants), less congestion around campus, safer streets, and university-hosted public bicycle events, programs, and classes. The League offers many tools to help promote the Bicycle Friendly University program in your community.


Enforcement

Police officers should be initially and repeatedly educated on traffic law as it applies to bicyclists and motorists. Training is offered by the International Police Mountain Bike Association, the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here are some recommended Law Enforcement products: Roll Call Video: “Enforcing Law for Bicyclists” and Enhancing Bicycle Safety: Law Enforcement’s Role (2-hour self-paced interactive video training). Ensure that police officers also receive training on racial profiling awareness in multimodal transportation enforcement.
Ask police officers to target both motorist and cyclist infractions to ensure that laws are being followed by all road users. Ensure that bicycle/motor vehicle crashes are investigated thoroughly and that citations are given fairly.

Ensure that police officers report cyclist crash data and potential hazards to the public works department, traffic engineers and transportation planners to timely identify sites in need of safety improvements for cyclists.

Pass additional ordinances that protect cyclists
, e.g. implement penalties for motor vehicle users that ‘door’ cyclists, and ban cell phone use while driving. Ensure that local law enforcement receives training on any new bicycle-related laws.


Evaluation & Planning

Hire a Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator.

A Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator reviews development proposals to ensure that local bicycle/pedestrian requirements are incorporated and to assess bicycling and walking impacts, develop and implement educational and promotional programs, write grant proposals, serve as the public contact for bicycling/walking inquiries and complaints, educate other staff about state and federal facilities standards and guidelines, and coordinate with neighboring cities, transit agencies and other departments to implement policies and projects. See this report on the importance of Bicycle & Pedestrian program staff.

Have your Bicycle Advisory Committee meet monthly to step up your Bicycle Friendly Community efforts.

Ensure that there is dedicated funding for the implementation of the bicycle master plan.

Conduct at least annual community-wide research on bicycle usage to more efficiently distribute resources according to demand. Conduct counts on roads and trails, count parked bicycles at schools and transit stations (if applicable), or conduct a statistically relevant community bicycle survey. The National Bicycle
and Pedestrian Documentation Project is a good resource for manual counts.

Ensure that your bicycle counts capture the gender of cyclists. If women ride significantly less than men, this gender gap can be addressed through infrastructure improvements, and targeted education and encouragement efforts. Learn more at bikeleague.org/womenbike.

Adopt a target level of bicycle use (percent of trips) to be achieved within a specific timeframe, and ensure data collection necessary to monitor progress.

Expand efforts to decrease the number of crashes involving a bicyclist. Analyze crash data using tools such as Intersection Magic and the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crash Analysis Tool. Adopt a Vision Zero plan to improve road safety for all road users. To learn more about Vision Zero, visit visionzeronetwork.org.


COSTS AND FUNDING OPTIONS

Costs

Building a new roadway for motor vehicles can cost millions of dollars to construct, and many of the pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure facilities are extremely low-cost in comparison. Use this database to review up-to-date estimates of infrastructure costs of pedestrian and bicycle treatments from states and cities across the country.

Federal Funding

Since 1992 bicycle and pedestrian projects have been eligible for federal transportation funding. To learn more about what federal funds are available for bicycle projects, use Advocacy Advance’s interactive Find it, Fund it tool to search for eligible funding programs by bike/ped project type or review the same information as a PDF here.

State Funding

Biking and walking dollars aren't only available from the federal government. States can also have their own revenue sources that can be used to fund active transportation. Use this report and an online tool to explore your state’s funding sources for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Local Funding

Local governments can also create their own revenue streams to improve conditions for bicycling and walking. Three common approaches include: special bond issues, dedications of a portion of local sales taxes or a voter-approved sales tax increase, and use of the annual capital improvement budgets of Public Works and/or Parks agencies. Bicycle facility improvements can also be tagged on to larger projects to create economies of scale that results in reduced costs and reduced impacts to traffic, businesses, and residents. For example, if there is an existing road project, it is usually cheaper to add bike lanes and sidewalks to the project than to construct them separately. To learn more about public funding of bicycle infrastructure improvements, visit pedbikeinfo.org/planning/funding_government.cfm.

Resources and Support


Advocacy Advance offers several tools, resources, and workshops to help advocates and agency staff maximize eligible funding programs.

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