Major national win for bicycling and walking in new federal Performance Measures

The Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation has been part of a national coalition of groups that have been working to ensure that walking and bicycling were included in proposed Performance Measures for our national transportation system.

New federal Performance Measures for transportation are a major advance
New Performance Measures are a major advance

The danger was that the measures would focus on, and support, only motorized transportation. That would mean that federal policy and funding would all move in that direction--towards support of motorized automobile travel only, neglecting public transit, walking, bicycling, trails, and other transportation options.

The end result would be to deny these legitimate transportation modes their fair share of federal transportation funding. Federal policy sets the standard for state and local spending, so the effects of the new policy will cascade down to affect nearly every transportation project in the country, for multi-lane high-speed freeways to neighborhood sidewalks.

Thanks to hundreds of groups and many thousands of citizens who responded to the federal request for comments and feedback, the new performance measures are a significant improvement over the original proposal.

The Performance Measures will affect everything from policy to spending priorities on billions of dollars worth of future federal transportation spending, so this is an important move forward.

Caron Whitaker of the League of American Bicyclists summarized the updated policy:

Because of your support, US DOT has acknowledged that biking and walking have a role to play in reducing congestion and improving air quality!
Late yesterday the US Department of Transportation released their final version of performance measures – including air quality, congestion and performance of major roads. US DOT’s initial proposed measures focused exclusively on cars by measuring only the speed or travel times or cars and trucks. . . .

This week, USDOT made available the revised system performance rule, which is vastly improved due to comments and suggestions they received.  They reported that over 95 percent of the comments they received- including the roughly 6000 sent by League advocates and member organizations-  called for multi-modal transportation measures and/or greenhouse gas emissions measures.

Here is a short summary of the changes to the rules:

A Multi-modal measure

·The rule creates a multi-modal performance measure that will measure the percent of travel made by non-single occupancy – as a measure to reduce congestion. States will have to establish targets to increase biking, walking and transit. 

State DOTs will have to track their impact on Carbon Dioxide emissions.

·Under the new rule, state transportation agencies will be required to plan for and monitor the impact of their project on green house gas emissions. This will apply to National Highway System roads, including both interstate and other major roads such as arterials and state highways.

·This should encourage states and MPOs to invest in biking and walking projects to help reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Measuring passengers not just vehicles.

·Finally the performance measures will still measure travel time and vehicle speeds but will also account for the number of people in those vehicles. (person-miles instead of vehicle miles)- this will incentivize transit , carpooling and ride –share options over single occupancy vehicles


Many thanks to all citizens and groups who took time to respond to the advocacy alert on this issue, and many thanks to the League for taking leadership on important initiatives of this type. 

Of course, passing policies like this and implementing them are two different things.  That's why we'll need your support moving forward to ensure that the good policy that has now been approved, will actually be implemented.

Policies like this are a major focus of our conversation with the Missouri Congressional Delegation and staff at the National Bike Summit. Supporting MoBikeFed's annual presence at the Summit is one way your membership helps support policy change of this type.


Working to pass and implement policies and procedures that support walking, bicycling, and trails at every level--local, state, and federal--is an important element of our goal to build a world-class bicycle, pedestrian, and trails transportation network in Missouri. That is one of four key goals in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality!