Improving Inventory of and Investment in Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Through Targeted Public Outreach
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Improving Inventory of and Investment in Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Through Targeted Public Outreach

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    The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is committed to providing and maintaining transportation infrastructure for a transportation system of multiple modes, including bicycling and walking. A complete and well-maintained bicycle and pedestrian facility inventory is critical for that mission. Given the large number of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, it is impractical to rely exclusively on VDOT staff for all data collection, processing, and maintenance efforts. A crowdsourcing approach that leverages inputs from volunteers, student interns, or both offers an attractive alternative. In addition, VDOT needs better communication channels to reach out to facility users and collect feedback on facility conditions and needs. The objective of this project is to develop a practical and effective crowdsourcing method for engaging targeted users of VDOT bicycle and pedestrian facilities to improve the existing inventory and meet the data needs for investment prioritization. To achieve this objective, this project reviewed mainstream crowdsourcing approaches that have been applied in the field of transportation and evaluated their applicability in the context of this project. The project team also interviewed agencies of localities in Northern Virginia to understand their practices and bicycling and pedestrian advocacy groups to understand the perspective of potential users. On the basis of these findings, this project developed a hybrid framework to achieve the research objective by integrating geoanalysis, crowdsourcing approaches, and targeted public outreach efforts. The results of this project led to the following conclusions: (1) among the mainstream crowdsourcing approaches, the method based on a dedicated platform and targeted public outreach will be the most effective in helping VDOT improve its bicycle and pedestrian facility inventory and the investment prioritization process; (2) VDOT needs to periodically improve its existing bicycle and pedestrian inventory, which can be addressed by gradually applying the methods developed in this study; (3) practices of local agencies such as the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) curb ramp data collection program and the retrofit prioritization process can inform VDOT about opportunities for future improvement; and (4) InfraHub and the associated data collection process developed in this study can complement myVDOT and assist VDOT in targeted public outreach. The study recommends that (1) VDOT’s Traffic Engineering Division should gradually adopt the framework developed in this study and share information about the InfraHub tool as a means to improve both its bicycle and pedestrian facility inventory and the prioritization process for curb ramp retrofits; (2) VDOT’s Traffic Engineering Division should share information about the differences between the two curb ramp inventories and the strengths of each with appropriate agency staff in the VDOT central office and the districts drawing on findings from this research; and (3) VDOT’s Transportation and Mobility Planning Division should further evaluate InfraHub’s value as a tool for targeted public outreach and geoanalysis for assessing pedestrian accessibility.
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