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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Availability and Use of Pedestrian Infrastructure Data to Support Active Transportation Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25995.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Availability and Use of Pedestrian Infrastructure Data to Support Active Transportation Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25995.
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4 Background In March 2010, the U.S. DOT released a policy statement reflecting the department’s support for the development of fully integrated transportation networks. The policy is to “incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycle facilities into transportation projects.” Further guidance states, “Accordingly, transportation agencies should plan, fund and implement improvements to their walking and bicycling networks, including linkages to transit.” The policy statement recognizes, at the highest levels of government, that walking is a funda- mental mode of travel for all communities and critical to comprehensive transportation plan- ning. Planning for pedestrian travel relies on our understanding of existing public infrastructure, land use, demographics, health and safety. While pedestrian data are collected for specific proj- ects or initiatives, they often are collected with a single use in mind (e.g., asset management or ADA planning). This practice of limited data collection is not cost-effective or consistent with current FHWA policies that recommend movement toward more comprehensive asset manage- ment. Information about pedestrian infrastructure is necessary to ensure effective and efficient planning for walking in the United States. It also is desirable to understand the current state of data collection efforts. Synthesis Objective The objective of this synthesis is to document and summarize current DOT practices for stor- ing, collecting and sharing pedestrian infrastructure data. This information will help agencies tailor the data collection process to build data infrastructure that supports various uses. Synthesis Scope and Approach This synthesis documents and summarizes current methods of state DOT practices for collecting, storing and sharing pedestrian infrastructure data. It also touches on differences in how pedestrian networks are defined and which attributes are collected, as well as how data currently are used and desired future use. Finally, this synthesis explains the rationale behind different data collection strategies. The information was collected in three ways. First, a literature review was conducted to pro- vide background on the status of transportation infrastructure data collection by state DOTs. The literature review covered roadway data, along with bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure. Second, a survey requesting information on current pedestrian infrastructure-data-related prac- tices was distributed to state bicycle and pedestrian coordinators via an email list maintained C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

Introduction 5 by FHWA. DOT staff from 40 states (80%) responded to the survey. Finally, follow-up phone interviews were conducted with representatives from five state DOTs to expand on their survey answers and specific topics related to: • Sources of pedestrian infrastructure data (e.g., collection by the state or submission by local partners). • Type and extent of infrastructure data collected (shoulders, sidewalks, trails and crossings on some roadways and for some projects vs. for all roadways and all projects). • Concerns related to data sharing. The state DOTs selected for follow-up interviews represent various conditions and illustrate the range of current data collection practices, including: • Data collection techniques, staff understanding of existing data, and the amount and type of infrastructure data collected. • Impact of limited staff capacity and limited funding vs. robust funding and dedicated state capacity. • Varied motivations for data collection (e.g., meeting an ADA mandate vs. efficiencies in funding and maintenance). • Multiplicity of data storage and usages within an individual agency. Report Organization The synthesis of practice is organized into the five chapters described here: Chapter 1 – Introduction. This chapter introduces the synthesis, providing background infor- mation and summarizing the document’s scope and organization. Chapter 2 – Literature Review. This chapter summarizes and presents findings from the lit- erature review. Relevant topics covered in the review include the need for infrastructure data and federal reporting standards for the nation’s roadway network. The remainder of the review examines pedestrian infrastructure inventories conducted by several states and one MPO. It also describes pedestrian networks; coverage of data; collection and attributes collected; data collection management and sharing practices; data consistency; data maintenance and update strategies; and program funding. Chapter 3 – State of the Practice. Results of the survey of state practices are presented in this chapter by topic area. The chapter first discusses survey content generally and then follows the ordering of subjects discussed in Chapter 2. Chapter 4 – Case Examples. This chapter summarizes the information provided by the five state DOTs selected for interviews. These states were selected to represent the variety of data collection practices across state DOTs. Chapter 5 – Conclusions. The synthesis concludes with a summary of key observations and suggested areas for further research that could improve the state of pedestrian infrastructure data collection. Appendices – Two appendices are included with the synthesis. Appendix A presents the survey questionnaire, and Appendix B provides responses to the survey. Most survey answers were collected within the Survey Gizmo platform, which was configured to allow users to skip specific questions. The survey logic is not represented.

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In March 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a policy statement supporting the development of fully integrated transportation networks. The policy is to “incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycle facilities into transportation projects.”

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Synthesis 558: Availability and Use of Pedestrian Infrastructure Data to Support Active Transportation Planning documents how state DOTs are collecting, managing, sharing, and analyzing pedestrian infrastructure data.

Documenting and summarizing current DOT practices for defining, storing, collecting and sharing pedestrian infrastructure data will help agencies tailor the data collection process to build data infrastructure that supports various uses, leading to more consistent and efficient planning and management of pedestrian infrastructure.

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