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Bikeway Functional Class

I’ve been reading a lot of bike plans lately, and there seems to be a pretty wide variety of frameworks used by agencies to categorize bikeways. In particular, I’m intrigued by the variety of systems used by cities to create functional classifications for bikeways, and how some plans do or do not attempt to correlate bikeway facility class with functional class. This post is mostly just my personal notes, though I thought some folks might find it interesting. Below is a crude simplification of the plans I’ve been reading. Please let me know if you think I’ve missed something major.

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

No clear functional classification, though some routes are in cluded in the Urban Trails and Bikeways System (more research needed to figure out what this means)

Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030

  • Major City Bikeways
  • City Bikeways
  • Local Service Bikeways (all streets not included in one of the above two classifications.)

There is no relationship between functional class and facility type.

Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan

  • Principal Arterial Bikeways
  • Minor Arterial Bikeways
  • Collector Bikeways
  • Neighborhood Bikeways

There is an informal correlation between bikeway functional class and facility type, especially at the high end of the functional classification (Principal Arterials are exclusively trails, as grade separation is one of the criteria).

Denver Moves

Plan does not establish a functional class, though it does establish an “Ease of Use” classification

Austin 2009 Bicycle Plan Update

Plan establishes Super-Routes “intended to serve as attractors to less experienced bicyclists”. Otherwise, does not establish a functional classification. Has also integrated “Ease of Use” into existing facilities map.

Richfield (MN) Bicycle Master Plan

  • Local Routes
  • Recreational Routes
  • Commuter Routes

The plan establishes the functional hierarchy (which it also applies to people and destinations), but does not apply the functional classification to any particular routes.

Rosemount (MN) Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan
West Saint Paul (MN) Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan

(same consultant author)

  • Regional Trail
  • Main Route
  • Local Route
  • Access Route

The plans make broad recommendations about facility types that permits nearly any facility type on any functional class, with the exception that bike boulevards are not recommended for Main Routes

Edina (MN) Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan

  • Primary Route
  • Secondary Route
  • Priority Regional Trail

Plan does not establish a relationship between functional class and facility type.

Philadelphia Walk Bike Pedestrian Master Plan
Pittsburgh Bicycle Plan
Fresno Bicycle plan
Red Wing (MN) Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

No functional classification

 I’m trying to determine whether a bikeway functional class is useful or if it is just an unnecessary complication that doesn’t really facilitate plan implementation. On one hand, it seems logical. On the other hand, as a resident of Minneapolis, the city’s bikeway functional class map doesn’t seem to have had any influence whatsoever in determining what is constructed or not constructed, and some of the designations seem a bit arbitrary and/or unnecessary. What do you think? Is a bikeway functional class a useful way to categorize bikeway facilities?

5 comments to Bikeway Functional Class

  • I think Portland has it right.

  • Walker

    What about Netherlands, Amsterdam, Denmark, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Zurich, Milan, Barcelona, or Tokyo? How do they look?

  • Jumping in way late here (bear with me, I’m at sea), but I think some sort of functional classification makes sense…as long as the classification defines what the jurisdiction wants that route to do. I.e. our “commuter routes”, designed as limited access with bike commuters predominantly in mind.

  • Froggie you are spot on. It is needed. Determination of functional class to plan and construct a bikeway network with facility type does make a difference and is exactly what I am struggling with here for the County of Salt Lake in Utah. The DOT engineering community is still car-centric and does not apply sound engineering principles to the Cycling functional class equation. However, the larger regional governmental players here in Utah (state DOT, MPO, County) have teamed up to determine a regional Back Bone network across 4 counties. This is not state wide but is a start. Checkout Utah Collaborative Active Transportation Study or (UCATS).