Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs

Lifting the Veil on Bicycle & Pedestrian Spending: An analysis of problems and priorities in transportation planning and what to do about it

About the Report

Advocacy Advance benchmarked planned bicycling and walking project spending in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and breaks down how state Departments of Transportation can become more transparent and responsive to community needs.

We examined the STIP from every state to determine the types of facilities that are planned for people who walk and bike. We looked if planned projects will serve bicyclists-only, pedestrians-only, or both through a shared facility and whether they will occur as part of other roadwork or as standalone projects. We found that:

  • Bicycling and walking investments are difficult to determine and appear to be small.
  • Bicycling and walking facilities are more numerous than cost percentage estimates alone might suggest.
  • Complete Streets policies are often correlated with more projects including bicycling and walking facilities, but having good data better explains states’ performance.
  • No strong trend emerged in how states allocated spending among biking, walking, and shared-use facilities.

We also evaluated each STIP for 10 specific data transparency criteria. The criteria were developed to address how states can improve their STIP reporting so citizens can better find, understand and evaluate planned transportation investments. Based upon our review, the average reported project cost across all states is $9 million. The average STIP project is described in one or two sentences — often fewer than 30 words. Project descriptions should match the importance of the investments being made. The two most important things states DOTs can do to improve their transparency of their STIP reporting are:

  • Provide better project descriptions
  • Coordinate data on a statewide basis with their MPOs

Given how much money is programmed through the STIP process, more than $37 billion in federal funds alone each year, clearly the veil of secrecy caused by the complexity and lack of information produced in the STIP process must be lifted. Without better STIP documents there is little chance that the public can meaningfully assess the performance of transportation agencies and whether planned projects reflect stated policies and performance targets.

Lifting the Veil on Bicycle and Pedestrian Spending