Sacramento, Calif. — In an effort to support the construction of more multimodal local streets and roads, Caltrans endorsed National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) guidelines that include innovations such as buffered bike lanes and improved pedestrian walkways. California is the third state to endorse these new design guidelines.

“California’s transportation system must be multimodal and support bicycles and pedestrians as well as automobiles,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Caltrans’ endorsement of these innovative street design options is an important part of modernizing our approach to improving transportation for all Californians.”

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also supports this flexible approach to bike and pedestrian transportation design.

State Smart Transportation Initiative, which recently published an independent assessment of Caltrans, recommended endorsing these guidelines as part of an effort to modernize the department and increase the sustainability of California’s transportation system.

All streets within cities and towns may use the new guidelines. In addition to endorsing the new guidelines for local streets and roads, these guidelines can be referenced for city streets that are part of the state highway system. Caltrans is also evaluating the guidelines for future updates to the Highway Design Manual, the standard for building on the state’s highway system.

“My Great Streets Initiative is reimagining our streets to make our communities more livable, sustainable, and safe,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I look forward to working with Caltrans and Los Angeles city staff to immediately begin using the NACTO design guidelines as we pursue a multimodal vision for L.A.'s transportation system.”

“We will strengthen the dynamic, effective partnership with Caltrans to build safer, stronger transportation infrastructure,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “By working together we can help establish the State as a leader for designing safe and people-oriented streets.”

The guidelines are based on successful innovations including separated bikeways and pedestrian refuge islands. Some of the new design features that cities could implement under these new guidelines include:

Buffered or separated bike lanes, to separate cyclists from traffic;

Bike boxes, which allow cyclists to queue during congested traffic and improve left turns; and

Flexibility in pedestrian access and sidewalk design, to enhance quality of life;

Caltrans’ endorsement of the NACTO guidelines is part of an ongoing effort to integrate a multimodal and flexible approach to transportation planning and design, to provide Californians with more transportation choices. In 2012, Caltrans updated its Highway Design Manual to facilitate the design of Complete Streets, which incorporates a multimodal approach to highway design. Caltrans also recently published Main Street, California – a Guide for Improving Community and Transportation Vitality.

A recently released Caltrans California Household Travel Survey revealed that, statewide, 23 percent of household trips are made via non-car transportation, more than double than 10 years ago. Caltrans and cities across the state are eager to support this trend.

“Business leaders prioritize active transportation as an important tactic for lowering our environmental impact and increasing people’s health, productivity and happiness,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “Designing safer roads will further help attract creative entrepreneurs to our cities and towns.”

Visit the NACTO website at for more information on the Urban Street Design Guide, including photos and videos of new sidewalk and pedestrian facilities. The NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide ( also includes photos and videos of protected bikeways and other innovative transportation design features.

“Caltrans is showing great leadership in working with cities and counties to embrace creative and more convenient transportation options for everyone,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly.