Regional Bicycle Barriers Update Process

2021 Updates

The process for local government agencies to propose updates to regional bicycle barriers was formalized in 2021. Planning agencies were afforded a five-week open period for submitting requests to add or extend regional barriers. 
Update proposals were evaluated for consistency with the definitions of regional bicycle barriers developed through the Regional Bicycle Barriers Study and Technical Addendum Update. Through this official update process, six new or extended regional barriers were recommended for approval. All of the recommended changes were incorporated into the Transportation Policy Plan through an Administrative Modification approved by the Metropolitan Council on January 26, 2022. 
This process for updating regional bicycle barriers will be conducted every two years and ahead of each Regional Solicitation cycle to distribute federal transportation funds. The next opportunity for local agencies to propose updates will be in late Spring of 2023.

Planning Projects to Improve Barrier Crossings 

Physical barriers to biking can be natural or man-made. Projects that provide more options for bicyclists to cross physical barriers, like bridges over streams or highway underpasses, can surface in several ways. For example, local planning efforts might identify the need for a bikeway that would improve access to and across a major barrier. Major roadway projects can also provide opportunities to construct new or improved bicycle facilities that cross one or more barriers. This is most significant in locations where there are no alternate crossings within a reasonable biking distance.

New barrier crossing projects can prove particularly costly to construct. For this reason these improvements are often driven by cost-saving opportunities provided through major highway, bridge, and transitway projects.

Regional Bicycle Barriers

There are four types of regional bicycle barriers included in the TPP and defined as follows:
  1. Freeways include the interstates and U.S., state or other highways that are completely grade-separated with no crossing highway intersections
  2. Expressways are highways that have at least four through lanes divided by a center median with posted speeds of 45 or more miles per hour.
  3. Secondary and third-order streams are the streams that flow directly into the Mississippi, Minnesota, and Saint Croix Rivers and their direct tributaries.
  4. Railroad corridors

Planned bicycle facility improvement locations are locations that are described or mapped in an adopted local bicycle or transportation plan, an adopted sub-area or corridor study, or a funded improvement project in a capital improvement plan.

Regional bicycle barrier crossing areas are shown in the online interactive map as tiered (prioritized) circles that vary in diameter according to the preferred spacing distances based on the Thrive community designation group shown in Table A. These areas define the specific barrier segments across which future improvements are desired.

Table A

Thrive Community Designation
Preferred Maximum Distance between available Regional Bike Barrier Crossings1
Urban Center 1/2-mile
Urban 3/4-mile
Suburban/Suburban Edge/Emerging Suburban Edge 1 mile
Diversified Rural/Rural Residential/Agriculture 2 miles

1 As determined through the Regional Bicycle Barrier Study’s technical work group.

About regional bicycle barrier and barrier crossing areas

Regional Bicycle Barriers were established in the 2018 update to the Transportation Policy Plan as the region’s most significant physical barriers to daily bicycle travel. These barriers, based on the 2018 Regional Bicycle Barriers Study, included the region’s freeways and expressways, rail corridors, and secondary rivers and streams.

The 2019 Technical Addendum Update to this study provides the most recently updated bicycle barriers and defined barrier segments known as regional bicycle barrier crossing areas. These results were added to the 2020 Update to the TPP and included as a new alternative criterion in the 2020 Regional Solicitation for prioritizing bikeway projects for federal transportation funds.


Steve Elmer, Bicycle Planner