We are excited to introduce Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks, a new guide from the USDOT Federal Highway Administration Bicycle and Pedestrian Program that will help make streets and roads in Vermont towns work better and be safer for everyone! The guide is a great new resource for advocates, municipal staff and leaders in Vermont's small towns and rural communities. It applies existing national design guidelines for safer streets and roads in rural settings and highlights small town and rural case studies -- even one from Vermont's own Lyndonville!
It addresses challenges specific to rural areas, recognizes how many rural roadways are operating today, and focuses on opportunities to make incremental improvements despite the geographic, fiscal, and other challenges that many rural communities face.
Two, free, upcoming webinars will provide an introductory training for the guide:
- February 10, 2017; 1:00pm to 2:30 pm hosted by the American Planning Association. Register here.
- February 14th, 2017; 1:00pm to 2:30 pm hosted by the National Center for Rural Road Safety. Register here.
In addition, the Small Towns and Rural Multimodal Networks guide provides information about how to innovate on existing roads, while maintaining MUTCD compliance. Yield Roadways and Advisory Shoulders are two examples (from FHWA).
- The guide references AASHTO resources such as the Guidelines for Very Low-volume Local Roads 2001, which includes discussion of Two- Way Single-Lane Roads, and the A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, which notes that "on residential streets the level of user inconvenience occasioned by the lack of two moving lanes is remarkably low". It also notes that when faced with two-way traffic in a single lane "opposing conflicting traffic will yield and pause on the parking lane area until there is sufficient width to pass" (2011, p. 5-13). Yield Roadways are a common form for low-volume local rural and urban roads, but recognizes that additional research on this facility type will be helpful. It will also be helpful to learn from the experience of other states (such as Oregon) that recommend similar street types in their local design guidelines including the Oregon Neighborhood Street Design Guidelines.
- The guide provides context for this current facility type in order to help local decision makers understand how they fit into current regulations. As of 2016, an approved Request to Experiment is required to implement Advisory Shoulders. Called "dashed bicycle lanes" in the FHWA experimentation process, at least five such experiments are currently ongoing! Beyond local experimentation, the guidance in this document incorporates lessons learned from installations in the UK, where speed and crash reduction benefits were noted after facility implementation. The guide recommends referring to FHWA's Bicycle and Pedestrian Program website for the current approval status of these and other treatments before implementation.
By including these facilities in the Small Towns and Rural Multimodal Networks, FHWA is fostering innovation and encouraging participation in the formal experimentation process. This will help to ensure that conversations about design flexibility and multimodal networks also address rural conditions and meet the needs of everyone. In doing so, this document is intended to foster an ongoing dialogue about multimodal transportation infrastructure needs in small towns and rural areas.