Scoring points for walking and biking
Have you ever been fired up at a conference? Inspired by what you’ve learned and eager to put it into practice? Last summer I participated in a conference session highlighting how regional planning organizations around the country are moving the needle—adopting policies and making investments in infrastructure to encourage more biking, walking and use of transit. Call me a transportation geek, but my wheels really started turning, thinking about how our regional planning organizations could move the needle (further) here in Colorado.
Putting it into practice
Over the last nine months, Bicycle Colorado helped present the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians to the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) as the organization worked on updates to the Denver region’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) policy. The TIP will guide a variety of transportation investments throughout the Denver region over the next four years.
Through a call for projects process, communities in the DRCOG region can apply for TIP funding. DRCOG will score, evaluate and ultimately award $174 million in funding across eight different project types including roadway, transit and bicycle/pedestrian. Traditionally, the greatest percentage of funding has been awarded to roadway projects, including roadway capacity, reconstruction, and operational improvements. Therefore, getting more bicycle/pedestrian elements (i.e. bike lanes or multi-use paths) into more roadway projects presented a key opportunity and has been a main focus of our recent regional policy work.
Through our attendance at multiple meetings, collaboration with key stakeholders and closely tracking extensive revisions to the TIP policy, we have good news to report. We’ve been successful in getting new bicycle and pedestrian points added to the scoring criteria for the three types of roadway projects mentioned above:
- 8 points for providing a physically-protected (vertically separated) bike lane
- 2 points for a bicycle or pedestrian facility directly touching a school property
- 2 points for a bicycle or pedestrian facility directly touching a transit station, including higher frequency bus stops
- 1 point for installation of bicycle counters
So how does this move the needle for biking and walking?
When a community submits a TIP application for a roadway reconstruction project, for example, it can earn 8 points (of a possible 100) by including a protected bike lane in the project. If the improvement were to capture all the elements listed above, the applicant could earn up to 13 points, and project applications with a higher score have a better chance of being funded. As demand for safe walking and biking options grows throughout the region, metro area governments should leverage these new points to increase their chances of seeing their projects funded and help meet this growing demand.
What can you do?
Is your community pursuing some of the $174 million for a roadway project? Contact your local public works or traffic/engineering department and ask. Ask whether they are aware of these new points in the scoring criteria and if these elements have been included in the proposed projects. Remember, 13 points could be the difference in your community receiving TIP funding. TIP applications are being accepted now through September 24.
Grateful for the collaboration
Thanks goes out to the local groups, DRCOG staff, committee members and other partners who helped develop and support adoption of these changes, and a special thanks to Kaiser Permanente for its continued funding of our regional policy program.