U.S. Bicycle Route System > Corridor Plan Updates & Routing Within Corridors

Process to Approve a Route within a Corridor

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Paul V:
Following is a draft procedure for establishing a United States Bicycle Route (USBR) within a corridor as proposed by AASHTO. 

For more information on the USBR program, please see:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/nbrn/usbikewaysystem.cfm

This procedure was written with USBR 35 in mind.  It was written in a way that it could be used by other corridors as well.

Your comments are requested. 


United States Bicycle Route Establishment Procedure

1. Definitions

a. AASHTO - American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

b. Approved Route - A Route approved by AASHTO as a USBR.

c. Corridor - An area proposed by AASHTO for a potential USBR route.

d. Corridor Committee - A committee of Destination municipalities formed by invitation to consider establishing a USBR.

e. Destination - A municipality through which the Route must pass.

f. Destination Criteria - Destinations are municipalities in the USBR corridor which have as a minimum: lodging, restaurants and grocery stores.  Historic cities and villages have priority in selection of Destinations.  Destinations shall be selected so as to form a route which is roughly parallel to the corridor.

g. DOT - A state department of transportation.

h. Draft Route Amendment - A change to the turn by turn description of the Route.

i. Metropolitan Planning Commission - a regional governmental planning organization which coordinates transportation planning over a number of municipalities and road commissions.

j. Notice of Intent - A letter stating that the Corridor Committee has been formed and that it intends to establish a USBR.

k. Route - A turn by turn description of a bicycle path which connects Destinations, from the starting point to ending point of the state corridor.

l. Municipality - A city, village or township.

m. Road Organizations - An entity which has the authority to design, construct and maintain roadway or trailway, typically a city, road commission or DOT.

n. Proposed Route - A Route which has received assent by all Road Organizations, either by approval or by nonaction.

o. Route Application - An application for a USBR prepared on a form provided by AASHTO.

p. Route Criteria - Route Criteria as outlined in the May 11, 2009 memo from the Task Force on US Bicycle Routes:
Specific Route Criteria: Considerations when Choosing Roads and Trails
Primary Considerations – Specific Routes should meet as many of the following as practicable:
1. When applicable, meet the planning, design, and operational criteria in the AASHTO Guide for Development of Bicycle Facilities.
2. Offer services and amenities such as restaurants, accommodations, camping, bicycle shops, and convenience/grocery stores at appropriate intervals.
3. Go into the centers of metropolitan areas, using low-traffic and/or off-road bikeways when possible. Bypass routes could be considered to accommodate users who don't wish to enter the city or who are seeking a less urban experience.
4. Include spurs to target destinations (universities or other educational institutions, recreational areas, or other attractions) and to multimodal nodes such as airports and rail, bus, and transit stations.
5. Follow natural corridors and provide terrain suitable for cycling, avoiding extremely hilly and limited visibility winding roads when feasible.
6. Consider appropriate combinations of low daily traffic, low truck traffic, wide paved shoulders, lane striping, adequate sight distance, and traffic speed in order to be bicycle friendly.
7. In urban areas, be suitable for utility cycling (commuting, access to shopping, schools and universities, recreation centers, etc.). Consideration should be given to bicycle routes that can be used as evacuation routes for emergency situations.
8. Include major existing and planned bike routes, including both on-road facilities and off-road shared use paths and trails that are suitable for road bikes.
Secondary Consideration
9. May include short stretches of high quality unpaved roads if needed to connect highly desirable paved road sections. (These roads should maintain the standard of road bike suitability).

q. Route Hearing - A publicized posting of a route on an internet site with notification to other entities.  A Route Hearing may include public meetings.

r. State Bicycle/Trail Organization - A statewide recognized non profit organization whose purpose is to promote bicycling and/or bicycle trails.  (In Michigan, this would include both the League of Michigan Bicyclists and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance).

s. USBR - United States Bicycle Route as promulgated by AASHTO.

2. Procedure

a. Forming a Corridor Committee

1. The governing body of a municipality located in a Corridor may invite other municipalities to form a Corridor Committee.  A Corridor Committee may be formed for a state or may be formed with members from more than one state.

2. A Letter of Invitation shall provide background information on the United States Bicycle Route Corridor and request that the municipality approve a resolution joining the Corridor Committee and appointing a representative to the Committee.

3. A Corridor Committee shall be formed by the adoption of resolutions joining the committee of not less than 7 and not more than 11 municipalities. 

4. A Corridor Committee may meet and vote in person, by conference call, by internet forum or other means of communication.  The Corridor Committee shall adopt by-laws which include election of a chairperson, vice-chairperson and secretary.  A record of meetings shall be made as minutes, which shall be publicly available.

b. Notice of Intent

1. A Corridor Committee shall send a Notice of Intent to AASHTO, the State DOT, Metropolitan Planning Commissions in the Corridor area and the State Bicycle/Trail Organizations. In areas where a corridor crosses a state boundary, a Corridor Committee shall send a Notice of Intent to the DOT of adjacent states or provinces, and to the Road Organization and Metropolitan Planning Organization of the areas impacted by the corridor.  A Corridor Committee may send a Notice of Intent to other stakeholding groups, such as local bicycle groups.

c. Selection of Destinations

1. A Corridor Committee shall propose Destinations along the Corridor, through which a Route shall be established.  A Corridor Committee shall consider Destination Criteria.  A Corridor Committee may create a mission statement for the Route to assist in the selection of Destinations.  A Corridor Committee shall by majority vote establish Destinations for the Corridor. 

d. Notifying Interested Organizations

1. A Corridor Committee shall identify affected Road Organizations which are responsible for design, construction and maintenance of streets and roads in the areas through which a route may connect Destinations.  A Corridor Committee shall request recommendations for bicycle routes which connect Destinations in the area of the Road Organization's responsibility.  In areas where a corridor crosses a state boundary, a Corridor Committee shall contact the Road Organizations of adjacent states or provinces and request a recommendation for a connection point at the state border. A Corridor Committee shall transmit Route Criteria to the Road Organization.

2. A Corridor Committee shall notify Municipalities which are selected as Destinations and request recommendations for bicycle route between that Municipality and adjacent Destinations, including a route within the Municipality.  A Corridor Committee shall transmit Route Criteria to the Destinations.

3. A Corridor Committee shall contact Metropolitan Planning Commissions in the Corridor area and request recommendations for routes connecting Destinations.  In areas where a corridor crosses a state boundary, a Corridor Committee shall contact the Metropolitan Planning Organization of adjacent states or provinces and request a recommendation for a connection point at the state border.  A Corridor Committee shall transmit Route Criteria to the  Metropolitan Planning Commissions in the Corridor area.

4. A Corridor Committee shall contact State Bicycle/Trail Organizations and request recommendations for routes connecting Destinations.  In areas where a corridor crosses a state boundary, a Corridor Committee shall contact the State Bicycle/Trail Organizations of adjacent states or provinces and request a recommendation for a connection point at the state border.  A Corridor Committee may contact other interested stakeholder groups and request recommendations for routes connecting Destinations.    A Corridor Committee shall transmit Route Criteria to the State Bicycle/Trail Organizations and other stakeholder groups.

5. A Corridor Committee shall provide a list of contacts which it has made to all contacted groups and organizations to encourage cooperation in preparing a Draft Route.

e. Draft Route Process

1. Based on responses from interested organizations, the Corridor Committee shall prepare a Preliminary Draft Route.

2. A Corridor Committee shall set a Draft Route Hearing.  Road Organizations, Destination Municipalities, Metropolitan Planning Organizations in the corridor area, the State Bicycle/Trail Organization and other stakeholder groups shall be invited to participate in the Draft Route Hearing.  The Draft Route Hearing shall be held by publishing a Draft Route on an internet site and providing a means to post comments.  The Corridor Committee is encouraged provide notice through press releases, State Bicycle/Trail Organization websites, newsletters, and other means.  The Draft Route Hearing shall be available for review and comment for no less than 21 days. There may be a public meeting held in one or more locations, with no less than ten days notice prior to the meeting to Destinations, Road Organizations, Metropolitan Planning Organizations in the corridor area, the State Bicycle/Trail Organization and stakeholder groups.  Draft Route public meetings, if held, shall be subject to the Open Meetings Act. 

3. Upon completion of the Draft Route Hearing, the Corridor Committee shall prepare a map and turn by turn route which meets the requirements of AASHTO for application to the USBR program.  The Corridor Committee shall consider the Draft Route and may approve it by majority vote. 

f. Road Organization Review of Draft Route

1. Upon approval of a Draft Route, the Corridor Committee shall transmit the Draft Route to all Road Organizations which have authority over roads or trails included in the Route.  Affected Road Organizations will be requested to amend or approve the Draft Route.  If an Amendment is proposed to the Draft Route, the amendment shall be transmitted to the two Destinations which are connected by that portion of the Draft Route, Road Organizations which have jurisdiction of portion of the Draft Route between the aforenamed Destinations, the Metroplitan Planning Organization, DOT and  the State Bicycle/Trail Organization.  The Corridor Committee may transmit the proposed amendment to stakeholder groups.

2. A Road Organization shall respond within 90 days of transmittal of a Draft Route by either a resolution of approval of the Draft Route, or by submitting a Draft Route Amendment.  A Draft Route Amendment shall show a change in the Draft Route in a similar form as a Draft Route is presented.  If a Road Organization does not respond within 90 days of transmittal of the Draft Route with either a Resolution of Approval or a Draft Route Amendment, then the Draft Route shall be certified as an Approved Route by the Corridor Committee.  A Road Organization may request in writing an extension of an additional 90 days for review of the Route.

g. Road Organization Draft Route Amendment

1. If a Road Organization proposes a Draft Route Amendment, a Draft Route Amendement Hearing shall be held by the Corridor Committee by publishing the amended routes on an internet site and providing a means to post comments.  The Draft Route Amendment Hearing shall be available for review and comment for no less than 21 days. There may be a public meeting held in one or more locations, with no less than ten days notice to Destinations, Road Organizations, the Metropolitan Planning Organizations within the corridor, the State Bicycle/Trail Organization and stakeholder groups prior to the meeting. 

2. Upon completion of the Draft Route Amendment Hearing, the Corridor Committee shall request that the Road Organization resubmit the Draft Route Amendment to the Corridor Committee, with or without any changes which the Road Organization desires to make.  The Corridor Committee shall accept the decision of the Road Organization on the Draft Route.  If there is a disagreement between two Road Authorities regarding a connection point on the boundary between jurisdictions, the Corridor Committee shall attempt to mediate and facilitate an agreement on the route.  If there is no agreement after six months of mediation, the Corridor Committee shall then select a route which best meets the requirements of the Route Criteria.

h. DOT Review

1. Upon completion of all Draft Route Amendment Hearings, the Corridor Committee shall publish the Proposed Route on an internet site.  The Corridor Committee shall complete an application to AASHTO for establishment of the Route in the USBR system.  The Corridor Committee shall transmit the completed application to DOT for DOT review. 

i. Application Submittal to AASHTO

1. The DOT shall review the Proposed Route.  Upon DOT acceptance of the Route Application, DOT shall sumbit the application to AASHTO.  If any changes are desired, whether to the application or to the Route, the DOT shall transmit those desired changes to the Corridor Committee.  The Corridor Committee shall consider those changes and may amend the application, except that any change to a portion of the Route must also be approved by the Road Organization with authority over that portion of the Route, following the procedure outlined in the Road Organization Amendment of Draft Route. 

j. Disbandment of the Corridor Committee

1. Upon AASHTO approval of the Route, the Corridor Committee shall disband.

k. Amendment of Route after AASHTO Approval

1. Any person or organization which desires to amend an Existing Route approved by AASHTO shall request that the Road Organization with jurisdiction over that portion of the Route  publish and  consider the amendment using the Draft Route Amendment procedure, except that the Road Organization with jurisdiction shall take on the responsibilities of the Corridor Committee for the amendment process.

l. Amendment of Destinations

1. Any person or organization which desires to change Destinations on the Route shall request that the Corridor Committee reform with representatives from the original member Municipalities to consider removal or addition of a Destination to the Route.

KerryIrons:
This is a highly detailed work process, and probably would work well for some states.  However, it may not be applicable in all cases for many reasons, and we need to let each state develop a process that works for them.  Readers of this forum should not assume that the process laid out here is somehow "official" or required.

Paul, where did this come from?  It sounds like a procedure developed by a DOT?  It appears to be oriented toward the activities within a state, but initial applications for a USBR will need to involve multiple states to establish specific routing.  Certainly there will be times when a lot of route work will need to take place within a state. 

I understand the desire to have a critical mass of organizations involved ("not less than 7 and not more than 11 municipalities") and the need to keep such a group to a manageable size, but in remote western state locations, 7 municipalities might cover 100s of miles, while in dense population areas, 11 communities might cover less than 25 miles.

So, this is not to call the process outlined as wrong, but rather to point out the need for flexibility.  As a template for groups working on route implementation, it has a lot to offer, but it should not be viewed as "the way."

RCMoeur:
Thanks for posting this - and it could be a good start toward a template for a process - but I'll have to agree with Kerry. It seems to be too detailed, and somewhat prescriptive. I could easily see agencies objecting to such a process (the situation is usually complicated enough without making it more complicated).

If I get time, I'll see if I can come up with some constructive suggestions.

--
Richard C. Moeur
Chair, AASHTO Task Force on US Bicycle Routes

GSullivan:
Thanks Paul for pulling this all together. It really does have some important pieces spelled out in it. Let's keep talking about how we might simplify it so that it creates a working template that states can use (and then they can add relevant pieces vs. removing process that doesn't apply). It would be great to have other forum members take a stab at different versions.

cdavey:
OK. I'll rise to the occasion and bite. I immediately see two problems with this procedure draft:
(1) It looks like it was written by a Good German -- all things are forbidden except for what is allowed.
(2) Only a career bureaucrat who has long since become accustomed to working in bureaucracy could write this piece of micro-management and think that it actually could work practically in the real world.

Here's the first difficulty I see, and this comes from looking at just the first sentence of the draft. Only a municpality may organize a committee. I live in a small city of 15,000 people. Include the surrounding suburban area (which would add three additional municpalities) and the population totals 50,000. The city is the terminus for a rail-trail conversion, although the last segment into town is just coming to the construction phase. Like many cities large or small it has suffered a decline and is seeking ways to revitalize its downtown. They have finally come to understand the economic potential of bike routes/rail-trail conversion, etc., and are supportive of the trail and what it can do for the city. There is even consideration being given to laying out a series of bike routes through the city to connect destination points -- schools, the library, the YMCA, historical points of interest. These is even discussion of extending the route westard out of town toward a local state park 15 miles away.

However, the nuts and bolts work of this is not being done by the city. If you asked the city employees to take this on, it wouldn't happen. They would feel put upon, wouldn't have the time, etc. And that night even be true given the fact that the city can't afford a lot of full time employees and those they have probably are actually already swamped with bureaucratic busywork. It would never get done, especially when you would expect them to get into all the notifications, meetings, reviews, etc, that this procedure calls for. The procedure seems to assume the municpality has a bicycle co-ordinator to deal with it all. Please show me a city of 15,000 who can afford to hire a bike co-ordinator or be fortunate enough to luck into having someone do this as a volunteer, will you? I won't hold my breath while you go look. And if a small city has this problem, how does the guy who wrote this think a VILLAGE is going to have the resources to do something like this? Puh-leeese.

All of the development I mentioned two paragraphs ago is is being done by the local trail council and private individuals volunteering their time. I know. I'm one of those private individuals. The completion of the trail into town has run into an unexpected brownfield problem. Three people -- myself, one other biking nut, and the trail council president -- are working on an alternative trailhead location. It too may have a brownfield problem, but if it does, we think we can figure out a way to solve it and end up with a super trailhead location in the city. We three are also the ones who are looking at how to lay out the routes through the city, and also the extension to the local state park.

The point of this story is this: flexibility is better than prescription in getting something like this done. Instead of a micro-management nightmare like this procedure, why not use good management practices instead? Simply state: Here are the goals we want to reach. Here are some guidelines and things you need to consider in reaching those goals. Then go to people you know or people who surface, make sure they are competent to get the job done well and right, and turn them loose. If you've done your job right as a manager, they'll probably do their job right as a worker.

In addition, because of the political nature of gathering support, working with people, getting funding, etc., for this type of project, there will always be a certain amount of making it up as you go along that cannot be prescribed in advance.

I see this draft starts to address two of the big areas that need to covered:
(1) Design Criteria -- I think the route criteria at (p) in the definitions are complete as guidelines as to what we want in a route
(2) Political/Common Sense Criteria -- all the excruciating detail in (2) through (5) boils down in one shape or form to common sense understanding of who you need to talk with, how do you work wth them to get the project done, and remembering to keep everyone informed who has a need to know as you go along. They can surely be reduced to something more like that. It is the project manager's job to find and/or select those people who have that kind of common sense understanding that allows them to get the job done successfully.

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