Along a historic parkway in Virginia, the National Park Service (NPS) will soon begin improvements to enhance safety for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. In a recent news release, the NPS announced planned safety measures for the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which runs along the Potomac River near George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. The Parkway serves recreational and tourism users, as well as a growing number of commuters, which has led to increased congestion and safety challenges.
The recommended improvements stem from a major safety assessment conducted by WTI and Mead & Hunt on behalf of the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) of USDOT. The GWMP Traffic and Safety Context Sensitive Solutions Assessment, led by Principal Investigator Natalie Villwock-Witte, studied traffic conditions and crashes at nine intersections on the Parkway, then developed individual recommendations for each. Proposed alternatives were designed to enhance safety, while maintaining the character of a national park setting. The full report is available on the project webpage.
Could a scenic bikeway attract more bicycle tourists to the parks, historic sites and other attractions in your area? Is your agency responsible for operating and maintaining a rural road where a bikeway is proposed? A new resource is now available that can help agencies that oversee rural roads develop safe routes that enhance bicycle travel networks.
Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners is a U.S. Federal Highway Administration toolkit developed by WTI, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Association of Oregon Counties. This toolkit is intended not only to help Oregon agencies navigate the scenic bikeways designation process, but to assist other land management agencies, road owners, and bicycle proponent groups to work together to develop bikeways.
Resources in this guide will help project partners to:
Identify and discuss key factors for making decisions about bikeway designations,
Address common concerns such as safety, liability, funding and maintenance,
Communicate effectively with bicycle groups, road owners and the public, and
Follow a clear process for developing bikeway designation programs.
“As bicycle travel and tourism continue to grow in popularity across the country, more communities are working to attract bicycle tourists to spend money in their area,” said Principal Investigator Rebecca Gleason; “At the same time, agencies that oversee these rural roads are concerned about the safety of people biking on roads that may have active logging and that lack maintenance funds. We hope this new resource will help balance the opportunities presented by scenic bikeways with the concerns of the agencies responsible for operating and maintaining these rural roads.”
Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners is available on the project page of the WTI website.
Improving safety on rural roadways is a multi-faceted challenge – to make progress, it helps to collaborate with many partners. WTI’s Jaime Sullivan, who is also the Manager of the National Center for Rural Road Safety, has been on the road in recent weeks meeting with key safety partners at national meetings and conferences.
At the April annual meeting of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE), Jaime exhibited the Safety Center booth to promote the Center’s resources, trainings, and initiatives. Montana LTAP Director Matt Ulberg was also in attendance. NACE, LTAP, the Safety Center, and the West Region Transportation Workforce Center have all been collaborating on the development of a Local Road Safety Certificate that will provide engineers and transportation professionals with specific training on assessing safety challenges and implementing countermeasures.
Jaime then traveled to the Safety Committee meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), where she presented an update on the Local Road Safety Certificate program. She was also invited to give a presentation on the safety components of the NCHRP Rural Research Road Map project, which is identifying and prioritizing the most critical issues facing rural transportation. “The AASHTO meeting, which was led by Montana DOT Director Mike Tooley, was a great opportunity to get input and recommendations from transportation leaders and practitioners who see the challenges and consequences of safety issues on a daily basis,” said Jaime; “this firsthand input really improves and invigorates our research and training efforts at the Center.”
Highway agencies systemically screen the road network to identify those sites that are expected to yield the greatest safety benefits from an investment of available improvement funds. Traditional methods for identifying candidate locations tend to focus on well-travelled roadways that experience higher crash frequencies, despite the fact that many low-volume roads may have high levels of risk due to their geometric and roadside features (e.g. curves, low visibility). Further, many of the crashes on remote local roads, particularly those with lower severities, may go unreported.
On behalf of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), WTI will develop a methodology for identifying and prioritizing hazardous locations on local roads at the network level that are deserving of safety improvement funds. Another objective is to engage Montana counties to work closely with MDT on the development of both the methodology and future safety improvement projects. This project will provide MDT with guidance for its safety improvement programs, enhance its outreach efforts to local agencies, and support its Vision Zero safety initiatives.
The National Center for Rural Road Safety will host a free webinar on “Marketing Safety” on Thursday April 25 at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time).
This webinar will provide practical methods of effective communication with stakeholders, leadership, and the public, including five techniques for better communication and marketing, how to write engaging “teaser” messages, and how to use a communications brief to plan outreach activities. This training is directed towards a very broad safety audience, such as law enforcement, planners, engineers, first responders, elected officials, public health, tourism agencies, and safety culture experts. To learn more and to register, check out the Marketing Safety webinar announcement.