Road to Adoption
The release of the Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach in 2010 was a culmination of several years of work. The recommended practice advances the successful use of context-sensitive solutions (CSS) in the planning and design of major urban thoroughfares for walkable communities.
In 2013, the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) released a memorandum officially endorsing the manual, recommending that is serve as a complement to AASHTO's "Green Book" in transportation planning nationwide. In addition to endorsement at the federal level, several states and municipalities have taken steps to endorse the manual:
Steps to Adoption
Participating in a training is a great step toward helping your community adopt the manual. Additional steps are important to ensure the manual lives and is the guide for creating safe and walkable streets.
The El Paso Story
In 2005, El Paso, Texas was tasked with planning for the influx of 28,000 troops to the area. The city responded by rewriting its outdated comprehensive plan and incorporating new policy and economic development strategies. Plan El Paso focused on the traditional core of the city as a way to fight sprawl. The city council looked to the manual to make El Paso’s streets safe and welcoming for all modes of transportation. The City of El Paso adopted Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Solution as a recommended practice to ensure all construction would be ITE compliant. To overcome language gaps between different city departments, over 200 people passed the CNU-A exam. Adopting the manual helped the city to design the kind of streets they wanted and encourage smart growth in El Paso.
"In terms of implementation, you can’t just focus on private developers," explains Mathew McElroy, Director of the City Development Department for the City of El Paso. "We’ve spent a year and hundreds of staff hours getting 60-plus city staff to study for and pass the CNU-A exam so that they understand what they’re getting into when they crack the ITE manual. Culture change in government is difficult enough, so having your own house in order is critical if you’re ever going to get the development community on board. We did it—and are working to get 70 more private engineers and architects to pass the exam starting in February—but you can’t treat it as just the manual. There’s a body of work people need to be exposed to to make implementation work right for everyone. Once you invest in the education, people get it, so adoption gets a lot easier."