In Search of Simultaneous Benefits of Infrastructure Provisions on Freight & Bicycle Movements

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Date

2023-10

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Western Transportation Institute

Abstract

The United States has three million miles of rural roadways (U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 2000). Some bicyclists enjoy recreating on low-volume rural roadways because they are looking for long rides to physically challenge themselves. Some rural Americans commute to work by bicycle or travel by bike for other trips (e.g., to the grocery store), whether they are driven by environmental motivators (they do not want to further pollute the environment) or practical purposes (they have limited or no vehicles in their households but still need to make trips). Regardless of the reason, bicyclists can be found on rural roadways. While many riders may self-select onto lower-volume roadways and roadways where there are fewer large vehicles, the limited redundancy of some rural roadway networks may force bicyclists to travel on roadways with higher traffic volumes, with higher posted speed limits, and with large vehicles. With extensive miles in the rural context, the question then becomes: can providing additional pavement in the form of wide shoulders benefit both motorists, particularly those in large vehicles carrying freight, and bicyclists on roadways used by both, or should a separated facility, like a cycle highway, be considered instead? Thus, the purpose of this project is to consider whether wider road shoulders could benefit both freight and bicyclists traveling along rural roadways. Through a literature review focused on the crash experience of bicyclists, the impact of the road design on a bicyclist’s crash experience, the impact of the vehicle type and vehicle technology on a bicyclist’s crash experience, and policies impacting how and where a bicyclist may travel, recommendations and conclusions are made regarding if benefits can be had by both bicyclists and freight (a.k.a., large vehicles) within a corridor.

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