The City of Milwaukee Bicycle Plan provides the long-term vision for the development of a community-wide bikeway network usable by all residents for all trip types. Implementation of the Plan will take place in small steps over many years. The following strategies and action items are provided to guide Milwaukee toward the vision identified in the Plan.
Milwaukee staff should strategically pursue infrastructure projects. Ideally, staff should pursue capital improvements funding or grant funding for short-term bicycle improvements first. However, if grant requirements or construction in conjunction with another roadway project make construction of a lower priority project possible, then the community should pursue funding sources for that project regardless of priority.
At the end of each fiscal year, Milwaukee should publish a public report documenting the status and on-going actions for all bicycle and pedestrian projects. This report may be combined with the prioritization review discussed below.
Policy 1.1 Pursue capital improvements funding or grant funding for higher-priority bicycle and pedestrian improvements first.
Policy 1.2 In the case where grant requirements or construction in conjunction with another roadway project make construction of a lower priority project possible or required by law, pursue funding sources for that project regardless of priority.
Policy 1.3 Install approved bicycle and pedestrian projects simultaneous with road improvement projects scheduled in the same area, regardless of the priority placed upon the bicycle or pedestrian project.
Policy 1.4 Review current posted speeds on major streets; identify opportunities for posted speed reductions, especially on roadways where bicyclists and motorists will share the same lanes.
Policy 1.5 Publish a public report documenting the status and on-going actions for all bicycle and pedestrian projects at the end of each fiscal year.
Projects have been prioritized based on facility type. This list should be reviewed every fiscal year, with new projects added, completed projects removed, and the priorities revised as conditions change. This strategy also represents an opportunity to correspond with nearby jurisdictions to collaborate on regionally-important walkways and bikeways.
Annually review and update the bikeway and walkway project list with input from appointed persons within the City of Milwaukee and other relevant agencies. The updated list should be shared with the public.
Policy 2.1 Annually review and update the Bicycle Plan project and program list.
Policy 2.2 Share updated Bicycle Plan project list with the public and other jurisdictions.
Policy 2.3 Review and update the Plan as needed, at a minimum of every five years.
Strategy 3: Integrate Bicycle Planning into Milwaukee’s Planning Processes
This Plan presents a vision for the future of bicycling in Milwaukee. To ensure that that vision is implemented, the Plan must become a living document that is incorporated into the day-to-day activities of planning, design, funding, construction and maintenance in Milwaukee. This plan recommends several ways for bicycle planning to be integrated into the planning process.
Policy 3.1 Incorporate a bicycle facilities checklist into the Plan review process.
Policy 3.2 Adopt a bicycle parking ordinance and other local policies that promote bicycling.
Policy 3.3 Consider adopting a “Complete Streets” policy to ensure that bicycle and pedestrian facilities are included in all major construction and reconstruction projects. Bicycle facilities should be addressed at the project scoping stage.
Policy 3.4 Require sufficient right-of-way to be set aside for bicycle facilities as redevelopment projects occur.
Policy 3.5 Ensure that appropriate bicycle facilities are built in new developments in accordance with this Plan and other relevant plans.
Policy 3.6 Ensure that bicycle infrastructure improvements are funded through a dedicated funding source.
Strategy 4: Implement Education, Encouragement and Enforcement Activities
Augment the expanded bicycle and pedestrian network with education, encouragement and enforcement activities to encourage more walking and cycling among Milwaukee residents. These supporting programs are critical to the success of the Plan and have been prioritized based on ease of implementation and cost.
Policy 4.1 Pursue grant funding for higher-priority programs first.
Policy 4.2 Seek funding for other supporting programs as appropriate.
Policy 4.3 Work with schools, youth groups, and other parties to provide education and encouragement programs to Milwaukee residents.
Policy 4.4 Work with the Police Department, media, advocacy and safety groups to create an educational program to educate pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers of rights, responsibilities and safe practices to share the road comfortably and safely.
Recommended Complete Streets Policy
There is a growing movement in the U.S. to integrate non-motorized transportation in the planning, design and operation of roads, bridges and transit projects, called ‘Complete Streets.’ At the national level, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) developed a model bicycle and policy framework in 2001. The policy is based on the principle that bicyclists and pedestrians have the right to move along or across all roadways unless specifically prohibited from doing so. The national policy has served as guidance for State DOT’s and public works agencies throughout the U.S. It has recently evolved into the idea that streets are only complete when they address the needs of all modes of transportation, including walking and bicycling. This approach includes providing for transit, ADA compliance and facilities for people of all ages and abilities.
Complete Streets principles are “federal, state, local, or regional level transportation laws, policies, or principles which ensure that the safety and convenience of all users of a transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users, children, older individuals, motorists, and individuals with disabilities, are accommodated in all phases of project planning and development.”12 This section provides guidance for Complete Streets policy elements.
Elements of Complete Streets Policies13
1. The Principle
Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street.
Creating complete streets means changing the policies and practices of transportation agencies.
A complete streets policy ensures that the entire right of way is routinely designed and operated to enable safe access for all users.
Transportation agencies must ensure that all road projects result in a complete street appropriate to local context and needs.
2. Elements of a Good Complete Streets Policy
A good complete streets policy:
Specifies that ‘all users’ includes pedestrians, bicyclists, transit vehicles and users, and motorists of all ages and abilities.
Aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network.
Recognizes the need for flexibility: that all streets are different and user needs will be balanced.
Is adoptable by all agencies to cover all roads.
Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way.
Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that requires high-level approval of exceptions.
Directs the use of the latest and best design standards.
Directs that complete streets solutions fit in with context of the community.
Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
An effective complete streets policy should prompt transportation agencies to:
Restructure their procedures to accommodate all users on every project.
Re-write their design manuals to encompass the safety of all users.
Re-train planners and engineers in balancing the needs of diverse users.
Create new data collection procedures to track how well the streets are serving all users.
What are the Benefits of Complete Streets?
Complete streets improve safety. They reduce crashes through safety improvements. One study found that designing for pedestrian travel by installing raised medians and redesigning intersections and sidewalks reduced pedestrian risk by 28 percent.14 Complete streets also improve safety indirectly by increasing the number of people bicycling and walking. A recently published international study found that as the number and portion of people bicycling and walking increases, deaths and injuries decline.15
Complete streets encourage more walking and bicycling. Public health experts are encouraging walking and bicycling as a response to the obesity epidemic, and complete streets can help. One study found that 43 percent of people with safe places to walk within ten minutes of home met recommended activity levels, while just 27 percent of those without safe places to walk were active enough.16 Residents are 65 percent more likely to walk in a neighborhood with sidewalks.17 A study in Toronto documented a 23 percent increase in bicycle traffic after the installation of a bike lane.18
Complete streets can help ease transportation woes. Streets that provide travel choices can give people the option to avoid traffic jams, and increase the overall capacity of the transportation network. Several smaller cities have adopted complete streets policies as one strategy to increase the overall capacity of their transportation network and reduce congestion. An analysis by the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute found that non-motorized transportation options can replace some vehicle trips, and in urban areas where more people commute by foot or bicycle, people drive fewer miles overall.19 In Portland, Oregon, a complete streets approach has resulted in a 74 percent increase in bicycle commuting in the 1990s.20
Complete streets help children. Streets that provide room for bicycling and walking help children get physical activity and gain independence. More children walk to school where there are sidewalks. Also, children who have and use safe walking and bicycling routes have a more positive view of their neighborhood.21 Gaining in popularity across the country, Safe Routes to School programs, will benefit from complete streets policies that help turn all routes into safe routes.
Complete streets make fiscal sense. Integrating sidewalks, bike lanes, transit amenities, and safe crossings into the initial design of a project spares the expense of retrofits later. Jeff Morales, the Director of Caltrans when the state of California adopted its complete streets policy in 2001, said, "By fully considering the needs of all non-motorized travelers (pedestrians, bicyclists, and persons with disabilities) early in the life of a project, the costs associated with including facilities for these travelers are minimized.”22
An effective complete streets policy should prompt transportation agencies to:
Restructure their procedures to accommodate all users on every project
Re-write their design manuals to encompass the safety of all users
Re-train planners and engineers in balancing the needs of diverse users
America Bikes requests that Congress establish a series of performance measures for state and local agencies to ensure that bicycling and walking become safe and convenient options throughout the transportation system.
Policy 1. As an element of good roadway design, all projects involving new construction or reconstruction of roadways shall consider accommodation of bicyclists and pedestrians. This principle shall apply to all federal, state and local recipients of funds authorized under Titles 23 and 49, including federal land management agencies.
Exceptions to this requirement would be possible where:
Bicyclists and/or pedestrians are not permitted to operate (e.g., on limited access highways).
There is a demonstrable lack of need (e.g., in cul-de-sacs ).
Provisions would exceed a reasonable percentage of the overall costs of the project (e.g., 20 percent).
1 Includes signs every 500’ and pavement markings every 200’; also includes minor intersection treatments.
2 Includes pavement marking every 200’; and warning sign every 500.’
3 Maintenance costs for on-street bikeways are included as part of the annual roadway maintenance budget. These costs are an estimate of maintenance required on bikeway facilities (e.g., bicycle wayfinding signage and more frequent roadway patching to maintain a quality riding surface).
4 Additional route details are included in Working Paper #4.
5 Additional route details are included in Working Paper #4.
6 Additional route details are included in Working Paper #4.
20 City of Portland, Office of Sustainable Development. Local Action Plan on Global Warming, 2005 Progress Report.
21 Ewing, R. Will Schroeer, William Greene. School location and student travel: Analysis of factors affecting mode choice. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1895, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2004, pp. 55–63.