Bicycling has been a form of human transportation for hundreds of years and remains a healthy and enjoyable alternative to today’s primarily automobile-centric transportation patterns. Before the invention of the automobile, the League of American Wheelmen led efforts to develop and improve America’s roadways, leading to our modern system of roads and highways. Bicycle safety problems have a long history in the United Stated, dating back to 1896 when a motor vehicle collided with a bicycle on a New York City Street—the first recorded automobile crash. More than a century later, safety continues to be a primary concern for modern bicyclists, with the challenges of traffic congestion, increasing distances between destinations, larger vehicles, and higher speeds.
Bicyclists are recognized as legitimate roadway users. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) bicycle program provides guidance on numerous issues which include examples of statutory language emphasizing that bicyclists are part of the transportation system and concludes that bicyclists “should be included as a matter of routine” in the planning, design, and operation of transportation facilities (FHWA, 1999). The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) notes that bicycle use is recognized as “a viable transportation mode,” and that “All highways, except those where cyclists are legally prohibited, should be designed and constructed under the assumption that they will be used by cyclists” (AASHTO, 1999). With any roadway facility a potential bicycle facility, it is important to understand and accommodate bicyclists.