A flexible, non-traditional approach to planning provides a learning environment for UDOT and stakeholders and empowers community members to see active transportation opportunities.
Many know about the Road Respect cycling tour – it’s an outreach and education effort, started in 2011, that promotes bicycling and emphasizes safe, respectful cycling and driving. Road Respect has moved beyond annual tours and built on the good will generated by cyclist-ambassadors.
Today, Road Respect Community – an off-shoot of the annual Road Respect Tour – connects UDOT with communities and policy makers to plan and improve active transportation options.
Under the Road Respect Community Program, cities and towns throughout Utah are leveraging and building on what they already have in place to create comprehensive approaches to bicycle planning. The program begins with a forum that examines issues and solutions having to do with local bicycling. The forums bring together representatives from UDOT, local cities and counties, planning and law enforcement agencies, cycling advocates, and community members who have an interest in active transportation.
The initial forum centers on addressing the concerns of the community. Then community members are invited to take the ideas generated during the forum and work with local government leaders and UDOT to improve area active transportation in an ongoing process. “We have enjoyed a lot of success in our Road Respect Community program,” explains Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Bike-Pedestrian Coordinator. “The forums have put several communities on the fast-track to improving active transportation options.”
Example: Moab Main Street
An intense business, trucking and travel corridor, Moab Main Street is also a route cyclists use to get to the many trails that let tourists experience the beautiful, matchless red rock landscape. Business owners along the corridor are glad to accommodate the influx of tourists. But the community members, cycling groups and leaders were concerned with how to get cyclists around town and on and off trails safely.
The issues forum in Moab helped educate the stakeholder groups about available options along the multi-use corridor. “When we left Moab, there was a much better understanding by the locals about the mobility issues UDOT was faced with on a street that needed to accommodate a wide variety of users, from pedestrians and bicycles, to large trucks,” says Tuddenham. Together, the forum attendees came up with ideas for mapping and signs. UDOT is now looking at solutions for pedestrian crossings. These efforts will help improve mobility and safety for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. Community members will continue to work with UDOT to find additional solutions.
“With Road Respect Community forums, we are able to get people together in an informal, nonthreatening settng,” says Tuddenham. Such a setting can foster trust, enhance dialogue among disparate groups. Once citizens are able to voice their concerns and be trained about options, ideas for solutions inevitably follow. Road Respect Community forums have:
- Helped community groups, including local cities or county planning or law enforcement agencies, and cycling advocacy groups, understand how UDOT functions.
- Connected UDOT with communities to strengthen the relationship between UDOT regional offices and the public.
- Empowered communities to take the lead, with UDOT support, to develop active transportation plans and activities.
UDOT U is funding a report about the program so other UDOT programs can use the collaboration and training approach as a model.
Road Respect Community is a grass-roots effort that fosters education and action. The program has moved UDOT forward in the effort to unite with community groups and other government agencies to collaborate and develop active transportation plans across the state.
This guest post was originally published in the UDOT U Summer 2014 newsletter.