Connected active transportation networks provide access to where people want to go. They are essential to dramatically increasing the number of people who walk, bike and take transit. Gaps in the network or indirect connections to destinations may expose active transportation users to situations they think are unsafe or uncomfortable. They may also make a trip less convenient. Both are significant reasons to avoid walking or biking. There are four focus areas for improving connectivity for active transportation users:

  • Enhance short trip opportunities. Over 20 percent of trips are a mile or less, 33 percent are two miles or less and 45 percent of all trips are three miles or less. Yet the majority of these trips are made by driving.2 Many of these trips could be made by walking and biking if high quality and direct connections to neighborhood destinations such as shopping, schools, transit and recreation were provided.
  • Close gaps. High comfort active transportation networks are subject to the weakest link principle. Any gap that exposes the user to a stressful situation will likely result in that person choosing a different route or not to walk or bike for their next trip. Closing gaps such as a missing sidewalk segment or a dropped bike lane at an intersection are essential to developing a connected network. Severe gaps in an active transportation network, such as those created by interstate highways or natural features such as rivers, can render a network ineffective even if the remaining legs are high quality.
  • Direct, seamless transitions. The active transportation network is made up of many facility types. These include sidewalks, shared use paths, bike lanes, and neighborhood shared streets. An important aspect of network connectivity is providing direct and seamless transitions between these facilities. This is achieved with consistent and intuitive design that accounts for the interaction of different modes.
  • Intermodal connections. Given the vastness of the MAG region and distances between destinations, walking and biking are not always viable transportation choices. Providing high- quality first - last mile walking and biking connections to transit can expand the reach of these modes as well as the reach of transit.

2. [National Household Travel Survey 2017.]

Transportation Planning Project Manager
Kay Bork