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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
FHWA Highway Safety Programs

A Resident's Guide for Creating Safer Communities for Walking and Biking


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturer' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of this document.

1. Report No.


2.Government Accession No. 3.Recipient's Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

A Resident's Guide for Creating Safer Communities for Walking and Biking

5.Report Date

January 2015

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Laura Sandt, Libby Thomas, Kristen Langford, and Dan Nabors

8.Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
8300 Boone Blvd., Suite 700
Vienna, VA 22182

10. Work Unit No.(TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12.Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Federal Highway Administration
Office of Safety
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

13.Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Guide; 2014-2015

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes

The contract manager for this report was Tamara Redmon (FHWA Office of Safety). Highway Safety Research Center (UNC-HSRC) were subcontractors to VHB; Laura Sandt was the Principal Investigator from UNC-HSRC. Gabe Rousseau (FHWA), Leah Walton and Paula Bawer (NHTSA), and other USDOT staff reviewed the guide and provided valuable feedback. Authors of the original guide, A Resident's Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities, upon which this guide is based, include: Laura Sandt, Robert Schneider, Dan Nabors, Libby Thomas, Colleen Mitchell, and RJ Eldridge. Credit goes to NHTSA for its contributing role in the education and enforcement section of the original guide and for funding pilot-testing of the original guide with 15 community groups across the U.S. he purpose of that testing was for community groups to assess pedestrian safety needs in their community and develop and implement educational, engineering, or enforcement projects to address those needs based on information provided in the guide. The feedback and findings from the effort contributed greatly to improving the content for this current version, including incorporating the lessons learned into useful community success stories. Images are from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center Image Library (taken by Dan Burden, Ryan Snyder, Mike Cynecki, Michael Ronkin, and guide authors), the National Center for Safe Routes to School, project staff (including HSRC, Toole Design Group, and VHB), Dan Gallagher, the City of Seattle, the City of Boulder, the NC Complete Streets Planning and Design Guidelines, and the contributors credited in the community success stories.

16. Abstract

This guide is intended to assist residents, parents, community association members, and others in getting involved in making communities safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. The guide includes facts, ideas, and resources to help residents learn about traffic problems that affect pedestrians and bicyclists and to find ways to help address these problems and promote safety among all road users. The guide includes information on identifying problems, taking action to address pedestrian and bicycle concerns, finding solutions to improve safety, and resources to get additional information.

17. Key Words

Pedestrian, safety, education, enforcement, engineering, community action, local partnerships, walkable, bikeable

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia 22161.

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price

About This Guide

People need and want communities where streets are safe, accessible, and comfortable for all users, including those traveling by car, foot, bike, or mass transit. Streets that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly have many benefits, including:

  • Safer environments, where you are less likely to be in a traffic collision or get injured.
  • Better access to more destinations, providing more choices in how you can get where you want to go without relying on a car.
  • More opportunities to be physically active, which can improve your health and overall quality of life.
  • Opportunities for everyone, which includes people with disabilities.

It takes the commitment and involvement of many people to build and maintain places that are safe and friendly for walking and bicycling. This guide is designed to be used by anyone looking for ways to improve the safety and comfort of their neighborhood streets, whether they are just beginning to learn about traffic safety or are already part of an established community safety or advocacy group. Residents can make a difference by raising awareness of pedestrian and bicycle safety issues and pushing for change.

This guide provides examples from other communities working to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. It includes ideas and resources to help residents learn about issues that affect walking and bicycling conditions, find ways to address or prevent these problems, and promote safety for all road users. The Resource Sheets at the end of the guide contain checklists, tip sheets, worksheets, and sample materials – these materials can be adapted to meet the needs of your community, or distributed to others working to improve pedestrian and/or bicycle safety. The guide provides an introduction to common safety issues and includes references to other resources and materials for those interested in more in-depth information.

Keep in mind that pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements often happen in stages. Even minor changes take time and may require effort from various individuals or agencies. This guide is a starting point and will help you be more efficient and effective, but patience and follow-through are crucial to your success.

Communities need "Complete Streets" that are safe and accessible for everyone
Communities need "Complete Streets" that are safe and accessible for everyone


A Resident's Quick Guide for Creating Safer Communities for Walking and Biking follows along with this guide and highlights some key activities that you and your community group can implement to help improve safety for all road users in your community. Use it as a quick reference of ideas to help you plan your role as an active participant in efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.