How to Make Urban Zones More Pedestrian and Bicycle-Friendly


Pedestrian and Bicycle-FriendlyPedestrian and Bicycle-FriendlyIn this episode, I talk with Tyler Grau, P.E., traffic engineering department manager at Stanley Consultants, about the importance of creating pedestrian and bicycle-friendly urban zones, and the key factors and recommendations for making urban zones more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, including street design, public safety, accessibility, and network compatibility.

***The video version of this episode can be viewed .***

Engineering Quotes:

Pedestrian and Bicycle-FriendlyPedestrian and Bicycle-Friendly

Pedestrian and Bicycle-FriendlyPedestrian and Bicycle-Friendly

Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Tyler:

  • What does it take to make a city pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, and are there any obstacles to achieving this?
  • Could you provide additional information about your involvement in the Park Avenue Road diet implementation project in Waterloo, Iowa?
  • Can you explain what steps were taken to make Park Avenue in Waterloo, Iowa, more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly?
  • What additional recommendations does the engineering team have regarding bike lanes and signals for the project?
  • How much does it cost to transform a corridor similar to the changes made to Park Avenue?
  • What lessons were learned from the implementation of bike lanes and signals on Park Avenue?
  • Could you discuss the findings of the post-assessment study conducted by the city and the MPO regarding the implementation of bike lanes and signals on Park Avenue?
  • Are the bike lanes less safe near the curb, and how do engineers balance safety and functionality when planning the next steps?
  • How can we effectively educate the public about the safer design and its functionality?
  • What are the upcoming plans of the city and the MPO to expand and attract more bicyclists to dedicated systems in downtown Waterloo following the assessment?
  • What are the main advantages of establishing dedicated pedestrian and bike corridors in smaller cities like Waterloo?
  • What opportunities or programs exist for cities seeking assistance to implement similar improvements in their urban infrastructure?
  • Do you have any final advice about making cities better for biking and walking?

Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How to Make Urban Zones More Pedestrian and Bicycle-Friendly:

  • Creating pedestrian and bike-friendly urban areas involves prioritizing infrastructure for walkers and cyclists over cars. This means designing safe, accessible, and connected streets, but it’s expensive and faces resistance from the public and officials. Advocates are crucial for overcoming these challenges and making cities more inclusive and sustainable.
  • The Metropolitan Planning Organization and the city of Waterloo collaborated to make Park Avenue more pedestrian and bike-friendly. They reduced it from four lanes to three, added buffered bike lanes, and lowered the speed limit to 20 mph. By optimizing parking and creating left turn lanes, they improved safety and accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians, promoting sustainable transportation options and enhancing the urban environment.
  • Waterloo, Iowa, straddling the Cedar River, lacked connected trails despite its recreational network. Park Avenue was chosen for its potential to bridge these trails and parks, offering a cost-effective solution due to lower traffic volumes and ample pavement width.
  • Stanley Consultants played a pivotal role in enhancing cyclist safety by finalizing pavement markings, installing bicycle signals, and introducing leading intervals at intersections. They ensured dedicated bike lanes, added signs, and restricted vehicle turns to prevent conflicts, significantly improving safety along the corridor.
  • It’s best to add bike lanes during road resurfacing projects when pavement markings are already being updated. This minimizes costs since you’re already working on the road. Planning and using available resources can help identify suitable corridors economically. This approach also boosts public acceptance compared to more expensive road reconstruction projects.
  • Adding bike lanes by widening roads can be costly and face public opposition due to the loss of traffic lanes. However, combining such projects with existing ones, like resurfacing, can streamline implementation and gain more support.
  • The road reconfiguration had problems with bike lanes next to the curb, leading to parked cars mistakenly blocking them. Better signs and education could help. Maintenance issues, like drainage structures and pavement condition, also affected bike lane safety. The city and MPO are looking into long-term fixes based on these issues.
  • The post-assessment study gathered feedback from residents and city staff who used the lanes, leading to discussions with committees like the Complete Streets Committee. They explored options like better maintenance and enforcing speed limits or moving bike lanes closer to traffic and parking to the pavement edge.
  • Moving the bike lanes closer to intersections reduces zigzagging with turning vehicles, improving safety. Implementing bump-outs at intersections shortens pedestrian crosswalks. With lower speed limits and fewer lanes, some right-turn lanes may not be needed, offering chances to enhance parking areas. The city and MPO are considering adding green paint to improve bike lane visibility.
  • To improve cyclist safety and comfort, there’s a focus on education, better police enforcement for speeding and parking violations, and ongoing maintenance of bike lanes. Plans extend beyond the current corridor to intersecting streets like Park Avenue, creating a connected network to encourage biking and walking. Securing additional funding, including safety grants from FHWA, will help implement these improvements and build a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Improving safety through traffic engineering projects is crucial, following the safe systems approach to prevent severe injuries and deaths. Addressing disadvantaged communities is essential, ensuring access to safe infrastructure for walking, biking, or transit. Promoting active transportation not only enhances public health by reducing pollution and encouraging physical activity, but also improves overall quality of life and supports a healthier climate.
  • Funding sources like FHWA’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Safe Routes to School grants support projects enhancing pedestrian and bicycle facilities. The Safe Streets and Roads for All program offers planning and demonstration grants. Road diets and reconfigurations are proven safety measures, with FHWA providing implementation funds. Agencies should communicate with MPOs and state officials to explore available funding options and develop safety action plans for corridor improvements.
  • Identifying a committed advocate within your city who is passionate about driving change is crucial. Having someone who champions dedicated urban zones, improved quality of life, and vibrant public spaces can make a significant difference. Such individuals can help turn ideas into reality and overcome obstacles to create positive transformations within the community.

More Details in This Episode…

About Tyler Grau, P.E.

Stanley ConsultantsStanley ConsultantsTyler Grau, P.E., is the traffic engineering department manager in the Chicago office of Stanley Consultants. He is responsible for managing Phase I and Phase II projects for DOT, county, and municipal clients. His experience includes completing NEPA studies and contract documents for both federal-aid and locally funded projects. He has experience in all facets of project development, including alternative analysis, traffic analyses, traffic signal warrant analyses, traffic impact studies, crash analyses, extensive ADA design, and traffic signal design. Grau has a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

About the Host: K. James Taylor, Jr.

VerdantasVerdantasK. James Taylor, Jr., P.E., is a licensed professional engineer and an associate vice president at Verdantas, an emerging environmental, engineering, and technical consulting company with a green, sustainable, and people-first approach in the foreground. James has over 17 years of experience in civil engineering in the land development and municipal fields. Land development services include the design of subdivisions and site plans for compliance with local codes and ordinances, civil/site engineering, stormwater management, road design, and utility design. James has served as a project manager since 2018. In 2021, James was recognized with the Outstanding Project Manager Award at Duffield Associates (now Verdantas) for outstanding performance as a project manager and his consistent display of leadership traits valued by the company, including scheduling, management, proactive communication, collaboration, responsiveness, and client-focused service.

James was selected as the 2021 Young Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Delaware Section and served as the President of the Delaware Engineering Society and the New Professionals Director on the NSPE Board of Directors from 2021-2023.


Stanley Consultants
Park Avenue Road Diet
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
Complete Streets Committee
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Vision Zero
Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)
Safe Routes to School Grant Program
Safe Streets and Roads for All Program
Connect with Tyler Grau, P.E., on LinkedIn

This Episode Is Brought to You by Stanley Consultants

Stanley ConsultantsStanley ConsultantsImproving Lives Since 1913. Stanley Consultants has been helping clients solve essential and complex energy and infrastructure challenges for over 110 years, completing more than 50,000 engagements in 120 countries and all 50 states and U.S. territories. Values-based and purpose-driven, Stanley is an employee-owned company of engineers, scientists, technologists, innovators, and client-service experts who are recognized for their commitment and passion to making a difference. For more information on Stanley Consultants, please visit

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To your success,

K. James Taylor, Jr., P.E.
Host of The Civil Engineering Podcast


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Originally posted 2024-03-20 14:30:14.

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