TxDOT says the new policy emphasizes its commitment to invest in projects that are bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Under the new guidelines any shoulder on a new or reconstructed road must be at least 14 feet wide. That will give cyclists a tad more space to ride since the norm has usually been between 11 and 12 feet. Tom Beeman is an engineer with TxDOT’s Design Division.
“This would allow them just a little bit extra room for them to be in that lane, and for a car to either maneuver around them or be able to move into the other lane a little bit and give them some room, and hopefully make a safer atmosphere for it. That would be our minimum design.”
Beeman says, in some cases, main lanes may become slightly narrower to allow for a wider shoulder. He says TxDOT will also be adding more sidewalks and widening existing ones in some places to make it easier for people to walk on a continuous route.
“The world’s changing. A lot of people are now walking or they’re using bikes for fitness, or to commute just to cut down on the gas price. The cost of gas is going up so they may be taking shorter trips or living closer. We’re developing communities that are much more dense and we have all modes of transportation that we’re trying to provide for.”
TxDOT’s requirements come a year after the US Department of Transportation issued a policy statement underscoring the importance of integrating walking and bicycling into transportation projects. The new guidelines take effect after August 31st. They only apply to roads built or maintained by TxDOT.