Project Management Institute

Pedal power


Tilikum Crossing bridge under construction in Portland, Oregon, USA


500 kilometers

(311 miles) The total distance for 28 planned cycling superhighways in Copenhagen, Denmark


Number of bicyclists projected to use Tilikum Crossing bridge daily


The increase in U.S. bike commuters between 2000 and 2012

Cyclists are taking to city streets, and the cities are responding.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, a global leader of cycling infrastructure, half of residents commute to work by bike. At just 6.1 percent, the city of Portland, Oregon has the highest cycle commuting rate in the United States. While this number is small in comparison, the country's bicycle culture is blooming. The number of bike commuters jumped roughly 60 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The growing popularity of two-wheelers, fueled partly by city-backed bike-sharing programs, has inspired a spate of bicycle-friendly initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic. But from passionate stakeholders to regulatory red tape, bike-focused projects in any location face similar bumps in the road.

The team in charge of Portland's US$134.6 million Tilikum Crossing bridge, for instance, worried that the car-free structure's design would not be approved by the local government. As part of a US$1.49 billion light-rail program, the 1,720-foot (524-meter) bridge will carry only light-rail trains, buses, streetcars, pedestrians and cyclists. When it opens in September 2015, Tilikum Crossing will be the largest car-free transit bridge in the United States.

From the start, the high-profile project generated a great deal of interest from permit-granting agencies and potential users. “As the first new bridge in our downtown core in 40 years, it had a lot of public interest,” says Robert Barnard, project director, Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, Portland.

Portland's US$134.6 million Tilikum Crossing bridge will carry only light-rail trains, buses, streetcars, pedestrians and cyclists.


The project team determined it had to mitigate the risk that its design would not be approved. It commissioned a bridge-design study and formed a stakeholder group headed by a former Portland mayor. This group gathered public consensus on the design before engineers starting working on it.


“In a design-build environment, every day of delay is a lot of money. We wanted to move the approval risk out of that process.”

—Robert Barnard, Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, Portland, Oregon, USA

“Before we started the preliminary engineering, we had the roadmap of what we were going to build,” Mr. Barnard says. “In a design-build environment, every day of delay is a lot of money. We wanted to move the approval risk out of that process.”

To meet cost, design and engineering requirements, the team settled on a cable-stayed bridge design. High in the middle and low at the ends, the design would accommodate the Willamette River's heavy marine traffic. In addition, a travel-demand model showed that the intended 12-foot (3.7-meter) width of the bicycle-pedestrian paths would have to be increased to 14 feet (4.3 meters) to accommodate the projected daily use of 8,000 bicyclists and 3,000 pedestrians.

Construction began in December 2010 and ended exactly four years later, on time and on budget, Mr. Barnard says. The bridge will open in September, once the light-rail, bus and streetcar operators have completed an extensive training program.



The project team “is bringing all the stakeholders to the table to facilitate project coordination and implementation among the multiple jurisdictions and transportation agencies.”

—Kevin Kokes, North Central Texas Council of Governments, Arlington, Texas, USA

Right of Way

In the area surrounding Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, USA, multiple municipalities have come together to build a better bike path. The Fort Worth to Dallas Regional Trail project will connect 64 miles (103 kilometers) of trails to link Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as three suburbs between the two cities. It's part of the Regional Veloweb program, 1,728 miles (2,781 kilometers) of off-street paths intended for cyclists, pedestrians and other nonmotorized transportation.

“The Regional Veloweb connects communities to housing, employment and entertainment in the region,” says Kevin Kokes, senior transportation planner for project sponsor North Central Texas Council of Governments in Arlington.


The Continental Bridge in Dallas leads to the Trinity Skyline Trail.


To make those connections, however, the project team will have to fill in gaps in the path where it approaches city borders, crosses multiple jurisdictions or involves other stakeholders, such as rail companies. Through regular stakeholder meetings and conference calls, the project team “is bringing all the stakeholders to the table to facilitate project coordination and implementation among the multiple jurisdictions and transportation agencies,” Mr. Kokes says.

For instance, one path gap was near an active rail line. So the team brought city representatives and transportation experts together to discuss a variety of path location options, such as in the rail right of way, in a nearby parallel street or elsewhere. The team ultimately determined the path could be built within the rail right of way.

Bike-centric projects in the works:

Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Budget: To be determined

Timeline: 2017-2030

Scope: More than 25,000 new bicycle parking spots in three garages—one underwater and two on floating islands


Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Budget: US$31.8 million

Timeline: 2015-2016

Scope: Separate lanes for bicycle, bus and regular traffic on several downtown streets, improving bicycle travel and making travel 25 percent faster for bus commuters


Location: London, England

Budget: £160 million

Timeline: 2015-2016

Scope: A 3-mile (5-kilometer) north-south route and an 18-mile (29-kilometer) east-west route fully segregated from vehicle traffic


Location: Paris, France

Budget: €150 million

Timeline: 2015-2020

Scope: Doubling the city's bike lanes by adding 80 kilometers (50 miles) of new and improved routes, including five cycle highways protected from car traffic by barriers


Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

Budget: US$134.6 million

Timeline: 2010-2015

Scope: The design and construction of the United States’ longest car-free bridge. The 1,720-foot (524-meter) structure will carry only light-rail trains, buses, streetcars, pedestrians and cyclists.


Location: Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Budget: Unknown

Timeline: 2014-2020

Scope: Build and connect 64 miles (103 kilometers) of trails that will link Dallas, Fort Worth and three suburbs.


Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Budget: DKK413 million-DKK875 million

Timeline: 2009-2018 for the first 11 superhighways

Scope: More than 20 neighboring municipalities plan to build 28 cycle superhighways totaling roughly 500 kilometers (311 miles) in length.

Share the Road

Even the cycling-centric city of Copenhagen has found ways to improve its car-free infrastructure.

“When distances are longer than 5 kilometers [3.1 miles], only 30 percent of all commuter journeys are made by bike,” says Tine Brandt, project manager, Secretariat of Cycle Superhighways, Copenhagen.

To bump up that percentage, the city, in partnership with more than 20 surrounding municipalities, plans to build 28 cycle superhighways that will total roughly 500 kilometers (311 miles) in length. “We want people to perceive these routes as a serious alternative to cars, buses and trains,” Ms. Brandt says.

Launched in 2009, the project has completed the first two superhighways, with nine more scheduled for completion by 2018. The remaining routes will be finished within the next decade. The first superhighway led to an 18 percent increase in the number of people in the town who bicycled to work.

“Securing cooperation among municipalities with different priorities and political agendas can be a challenge,” Ms. Brandt says of the Copenhagen initiative. Like the Dallas-Fort Worth project, it crosses city borders. The cities involved all contribute to the program's budget.

To ensure “close cooperation among the municipalities,” she says, the project team didn't just look to Copenhagen to call the shots. Instead, the municipalities jointly developed and adopted a common strategy and plan. The team also created a secretariat as a neutral body to oversee execution.

“If Copenhagen municipality had made the concept on its own and just presented it to the other municipalities, it wouldn't have worked as well,” Maria Streuli, who led the project during its concept and first development phase, told CityLab. —Novid Parsi

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