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1 - Introduction

Published: January 20, 2023

1.1 Purpose of the Multimodal Design Guide

This Multimodal Design Guide, hereafter referred to as the MDG, serves as a source for planners and designers implementing pedestrian and bicycle facilities within ODOT right-of-way and as part of the Local Let Process, when outside ODOT right-of-way but utilizing State and Federal Dollars. By providing comprehensive state-of-the-practice design guidance, the MDG aligns with ODOT’s current vision, mission, and goals related to walking and bicycling. It advances the Department’s overall mission of improving safety across the state; it aligns with ODOT’s Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan’s vision that walking and biking will be a safe, convenient, and accessible transportation options for everyone; and it supports the Strategic Highway Safety Plan’s goal of achieving zero deaths on Ohio’s roadways.

Communities (Local Public Agencies) can apply this guidance to their local and regional transportation networks to create uniformity across the state’s multimodal transportation system. The MDG will also be used by ODOT to review local agency designs for federally funded projects. The MDG can also be a reference for community members, advocates, elected officials, and other stakeholders interested in advancing multimodal transportation design practices in Ohio.

1.2 Scope, Context, and Authority of the MDG

1.2.1 Scope

The MDG provides information for planners, designers, and engineers to develop the physical infrastructure necessary to support walking and bicycling for people of all ages and abilities. This design guide includes information on developing connected bicycle and pedestrian networks and addresses topics such as comfort and safety of facilities in different contexts. This guide addresses safety-related issues, especially for interactions between vulnerable road users (e.g., pedestrians and bicyclists) and motor vehicles. The MDG does not address education, encouragement, evaluation, or enforcement programs to support walking and bicycling. The Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (OMUTCD) is to be used in conjunction with this guide. The MDG is not intended to be a detailed design or traffic engineering manual that could supersede the need for application of sound principles by knowledgeable design or traffic engineering professionals.

1.2.2 Relationship with Other References

ODOT discusses pedestrian and bicycle design guidance across many manuals and other documents. The MDG was created to provide a comprehensive guide for the development of bicycle and pedestrian transportation facilities. Additional documents that provide multimodal design guidance include:

Table 1-1: Existing multimodal transportation manuals at ODOT



Ohio Traffic Engineering Manual (TEM)

The Traffic Engineering Manual is ODOT’s primary manual for traffic engineering policies, guidelines, standards, and best practices. All ODOT traffic engineering information is found or cross- referenced in the TEM. The TEM contains traffic engineering guidance for roadways, including pedestrian and bicycle facilities, on all ODOT-maintained roads.

Location and Design (L&D) Manual, Volume 1

The Ohio L&D Manual, Volume 1 is a synthesis of AASHTO’s geometric and roadside design guidance applicable to the state of Ohio.

Bridge Design Manual

The Bridge Design Manual (BDM) is published by the Office of Structural Engineering and is intended to promote uniform, safe, and sound bridge design around the state.

Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (OMUTCD)

The OMUTCD establishes a uniform system of traffic control devices that are compliant with the FHWA’s national MUTCD. The manual covers standards for the design and use of traffic control devices on any street, highway, bikeway or private road open to public travel in Ohio.

ODOT State Highway Access Management Manual (SHAMM)

Establishes procedures and standards for accesses on state facilities.

In addition to those noted above, several other ODOT documents incorporate pedestrian and bicycle design guidance, including the Ohio Temporary Traffic Control Manual, the Sign Designs and Markings Manual, and Standard Construction Drawings. All designers should use the MDG in conjunction with the current versions of these references.

The MDG’s primary function within ODOT’s family of manuals and design standards is to update and consolidate bicycle and pedestrian transportation guidance across the Department. The MDG also takes into account a broader framework of national design guidance that informs pedestrian and bicycle projects. There are several national sources of multimodal transportation design standards, including:

  • AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities
  • AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities
  • FHWA Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks
  • FHWA Bikeway Selection Guide
  • FHWA Achieving Multimodal Networks: Applying Design Flexibility and Reducing Conflicts
  • FHWA Guide for Improving Pedestrian Safety at Uncontrolled Crossings
  • FHWA Accessible Shared Streets
  • NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide
  • NACTO Urban Street Design Guide
  • NACTO Transit Design Guide
  • NCHRP Crossing Solutions at Roundabouts and Channelized Turn lanes for Pedestrians with Vision Disabilities: A Guidebook (2017)
  • ITE Implementing Context Sensitive Design on Multimodal Thoroughfares
  • ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)
  • U.S. Access Board Proposed Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way (PROWAG)

This Guide includes treatments that have FHWA interim approval to represent the state of the practice accurately.

The FHWA periodically issues Interim Approvals (IAs) to allow the use of new traffic control devices between updates of the MUTCD. Agencies that desire to use these treatments must request specific approval from the FHWA. ODOT has received approved requests for statewide approval from FHWA that apply to all jurisdictions in the state for some design treatments. Additionally, some cities have approved requests for IAs within their city boundaries. The MDG provides guidance for treatments that have been given Interim Approval status for city and/or statewide use. Traffic control devices that have IAs and/or require approval from FHWA are identified throughout this guide in grey boxes like this paragraph.

1.3 Use of Values in this Guide

It is important for users of this guide to understand that the selection of values for design dimensions can have a direct relationship to street user safety and comfort. In many instances, the use of constrained values does not account for a street user’s perception of safety, and it is this perception of how safe a person feels that will affect how they choose to use or avoid a particular facility or street. In order to design safe multimodal facilities, with forgiveness and driver error in mind, pedestrian and bicycle facilities should be designed with the recommended values provided in this guide.

The MDG proposes consistent terminology to help with the design process. This use of consistent terms is not intended to supersede the need for design flexibility, context sensitivity, or engineering judgement. However, where deviations from the recommended values are proposed, those deviations should be based on an engineering study and the deviations properly documented.

1.3.1 Minimum Values

Minimum values are identified throughout this guide using the words “recommended” or “minimum.” Minimum values may be presented as a single value or a range of values. The use of these recommended values (typically larger values) should be used, where practical, to maximize the safety and comfort of pedestrians and bicyclists. Use of other values (typically smaller values) should only be used if and where it is not possible due to social, fiscal, and/or project constraints.

1.3.2 Constrained Values

Constrained values are explicitly identified using the word “constrained,” “at least,” or “not less than.” The use of constrained values should not be considered a default value for pedestrian and/ or bikeway design. The use of constrained values may result in tradeoffs with respect to pedestrian and bicyclist comfort and safety.

The words “in constrained conditions” are used to identify constrained values that are likely to degrade comfort and may degrade safety (for example, a separate bike lane width that is physically wide enough to accommodate a bicyclist, but not wide enough to permit another bicyclist to pass). In general, the use of constrained values should only be considered for limited distances, as an interim measure, at locations where low volumes of pedestrians or bicyclists are existing and anticipated, or where the value of providing the constrained width facility outweighs the option of providing no facility at all.

1.3.3 Maximum Values

Some design values in this guide are identified as “maximum,” “no more than,” “no greater than,” or “not to exceed.” These represent design values that should not be exceeded due to their potential to diminish the value of the treatment (e.g., sign or symbol placement frequency).

1.4 Definitions

Accessible – Describes a facility in the public right-of-way that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and this guide.

Alteration – A change to a facility in the public right-of-way that affects or could affect pedestrian access, circulation, or use. Alterations include, but are not limited to, resurfacing, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, or changes or rearrangement of structural parts or elements of a facility.

Accessible Pedestrian Signal – A device that communicates information about pedestrian signal timing in non-visual format(s) such as audible tones, speech messages, and/or vibrating surfaces.

Accessible Pedestrian Signal Detector – A device designated to assist the pedestrian who has vision, auditory, and/or physical disabilities in activating the pedestrian phase.

Bicycle Boulevard – Streets designed to prioritize bicycle traffic by minimizing motorized traffic volumes and operating speeds. They are also commonly referred to as neighborhood bikeways or greenways.

Bicycle Facilities – A general term denoting provisions to accommodate bicycling, including bikeways, bicycle boulevards, bicycle detection, shared lane markings, signed bicycle routes, and wayfinding, in addition to parking and storage facilities.

Bicycle Route – A road, path, or facility designated for bicycle travel, sometimes using bicycle route signage, where space for bicyclists may or may not be distinct from motor vehicle traffic.

Bikeway – Any road, path, or facility intended for bicycle travel which designates space for bicyclists distinct from motor vehicle traffic. A bikeway does not include shared lanes, sidewalks, signed bicycle routes, or shared lanes with shared lane markings, but does include bicycle boulevards.

Blended Transition – A raised pedestrian crossing, depressed corner, or similar connection between the pedestrian access route at the level of the sidewalk and the level of the pedestrian crossing that has a grade of 5 percent or less.

Clear Space – (1) A space free of sight distance obstructions to allow motorists and bicyclists in motion to see each other and yield (or stop) accordingly as they approach intersections or driveways. (2) A space free of obstruction for pedestrian maneuverability complying with PROWAG Section R404.

Clear Width – The width of a pedestrian or bicycle facility devoid of physical obstructions.

Crosswalk – The pedestrian accessible route within a street used to cross a street or portion of a street. Further defined in the Ohio Revised Code, Section 4511.01(LL), as (1) that part of a roadway at intersections ordinarily included within the real or projected prolongation of property lines and curb lines or, in the absence of curbs, the edges of the traversable roadway; (2) any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere, distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface; (3) Notwithstanding definitions (1) and (2), there shall not be a crosswalk where local authorities have placed signs indicating no crossing.

Cross Slope – The grade that is perpendicular to the direction of pedestrian travel.

Curb Line – A line at the face of the curb that marks the transition between the curb and the gutter, street, or highway.

Curb Ramp – A ramp that cuts through or is built up to the curb. Curb ramp types can be perpendicular or parallel, or a combination of parallel, perpendicular, and diagonal ramps.

Detectable Warning Surface – A standardized truncated dome grid surface built in, or applied to, walking surfaces to indicate the boundary between a pedestrian route and a vehicular route where there is a curb ramp or blended transition, and at the edge of transit boarding platforms.

Directional Indicator – A traversable tactile surfaces comprised of raised bars that may be deployed parallel to the pedestrian path of travel to help pedestrians follow an accessible pathway or navigate a large open space. They may also be deployed across the pedestrian path of travel to provide guidance to pedestrians with disabilities regarding when to turn (e.g., to locate a mid-block curb ramp, bus island, or transit door).

Engineering Judgment – The evaluation of available pertinent information, and the application of appropriate principles, provisions, and practices as contained in design guides, for the purpose of deciding upon the applicability, design, operation, or installation of design elements and traffic control devices. Engineering judgment shall be exercised by the designer through the application of procedures and criteria established by the engineer. Documentation of Engineering Judgment is recommended but not required.

First- and Last-mile Connections – A general term for pedestrian and bikeway facilities designed to help people access transit stops and stations.

Grade Separated Facilities – Facilities that support nonmotorized travel utilizing structures over or under traffic facilities, creating a separated pathway across a roadway.

Hardened Centerline – a painted centerline supplemented by vertical elements and/or mountable surfaces used to reduce left turn speeds of motorists by reducing the effective turning radius of this maneuver. 

Intersection – The area where two or more user travel paths meet. Further defined in the Ohio Revised Code, Section 4511.01(KK), as (1) The area embraced within the prolongation or connection of the lateral curb lines, or, if none, then the lateral boundary lines of the roadways of two highways which join one another at, or approximately at, right angles, or the area within which vehicles traveling upon different highways joining at any other angle may come in conflict; (2) Where a highway includes two roadways thirty ft. or more apart, then every crossing of each roadway of such divided highway by an intersecting highway shall be regarded as a separate intersection. If an intersecting highway also includes two roadways thirty ft. or more apart, then every crossing of two roadways of such highways shall be regarded as a separate intersection; (3) The junction of an alley with a street or highway, or with another alley, shall not constitute an intersection.

Landing – Part of a pedestrian accessible route or walkway that provides space for turning, pedestrian pushbutton accessing, or resting. Landings are typically level with a cross slope and grade of 1.56 percent maximum.

Major Street – The street normally carrying a higher volume of vehicular traffic.

Micromobility Device – A general term describing inline skates, roller skates, skateboards, kick scooters, electric scooters, self-balancing devices, or other small, low-speed, human- or electric- powered transportation devices.

Minor Street – The street normally carrying a lower volume of vehicular traffic.

Mutual Yielding – A general term describing the responsibility among motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to yield the right of way depending upon the timing of their arrival at an intersection or conflict point.

Pedestrian – A person on foot or in a wheelchair.

Pedestrian Access Route (PAR) – A continuous and unobstructed path of travel provided for pedestrians within or coinciding with sidewalks and walkways.

Pedestrian Curb Cut – A break or cut in the vertical curb to eliminate curb barriers. Pedestrian curb cuts are typically provided where sidewalk does not exist or the pedestrian access route is at the same elevation as the crossing and a curb separates the PAR from the crossing.

Physical Barrier – A physical object that prohibits pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorist movement. This could be a curb, guardrail, fence, street amenities such as benches or planters, etc.

Pushbutton – A button to activate a device or signal timing for pedestrians or bicyclists.

Pushbutton Information Message – A recorded message that can be actuated by pressing a pushbutton when the walk interval is not timing and that provides the name of the street that the crosswalk associated with that pushbutton crosses and can also provide other information about the intersection signalization or geometry.

Pushbutton Locator Tone – A repeating sound that informs approaching pedestrians that a pushbutton exists to actuate pedestrian timing or receive additional information and that enables pedestrians with vision disabilities to locate the pushbutton.

Ramp – A pedestrian pathway or access route with a slope greater than 5 percent. A ramp may or may not be part of a curb ramp.

Running Slope – Also known as longitudinal slope. The slope that is parallel to the direction of travel.

Pedestrian Facilities – A general term denoting provisions to accommodate or encourage walking. Pedestrian facilities include, but are not limited to, accessible routes, sidewalks, crosswalks, crossing islands and medians, traffic control features, curb ramps, bus stops and other loading areas, shared use paths, and stairs.

Separated Bike Lanes – A bicycle lane that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by vertical elements and a horizontal buffer. These are also sometimes referred to as protected bike lanes or cycle tracks.

Shared Lane – A roadway travel lane used by both motor vehicle travel and bicycle travel where no bicycle lane is designated.

Shared Street – A street that includes a shared zone where pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles mix in the same space. Motor vehicle speeds on shared streets are intended to be very low. 

Shared Use Path – Multiuse path designed primarily for use by bicyclists, pedestrians, and/or micromobility device users for transportation and recreation purposes. Shared use paths are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier. Shared use paths are sometimes referred to as paths.

Sidepath – A shared use path located within highway right-of-way adjacent and parallel to a roadway.

Sidewalk – A walkway located along a roadway. Further defined in the Ohio Revised Code, Section 4511.01(FF), as that portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for the use of pedestrians.

Vertical Surface Discontinuities – Vertical differences in elevation between two adjacent surfaces.

Vibrotactile Pedestrian Device – An accessible pedestrian signal feature that communicates, by touch, information about pedestrian timing using a vibrating surface.

Walkway – A general term used to describe a paved or improved area for use by pedestrians. Walkways include sidewalks, shared use paths, curb ramps, blended transitions, etc.