Project Title

Planning for Walking and Cycling in an Autonomous Vehicle Future

Collaborating Universities

University of Virginia
351 McCormick Dr.
P.O. Box 400742
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4742

Virginia Tech
1424 S Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Principal Investigator(s)

Buehler, Ralph (VT)

Hankey, Steve (VT)

Mondschein, Andrew (UVA)

Total Project Costs


Start Date


Completion Date



Over the last two decades walking and cycling have increased in the United States— in particular in large cities. Efforts to further increase walking and cycling occur during a time of increasingly automated and connected vehicles (AVs). Almost nothing is known about impacts of an increasingly automated vehicle fleet on pedestrians and cyclists. Speculations range from safer walking and cycling (due to emergency braking technology) to reduced safety during the transition period towards AVs (due to driver over-reliance on limited technology). USDOT’s Strategic Agenda (S30 in that report) has identified pedestrian and cycling as important elements of connected vehicle research. In their letter of support for this research the District Department of Transport states identifies ‘many unanswered questions.’ Moreover, the State of Virginia has the goal to put automated and connected vehicles on more roads—which will eventually include urban and local roads used by many pedestrians and cyclists.

Research Goals and Objectives: Given the potentially short timeframe for AV deployment to urban streets and the dearth of knowledge on the expected impacts of AVs on pedestrians and bicyclists, timely research is needed. This study will use semi-structured interviews with transport experts from academia, local, regional, state, and federal levels of government, and the private sector, to develop planning guidelines for walking and cycling for the transition towards an AV fleet. Specifically, the literature review, the interviews, and the analysis will:

  1. Identify potential effects of automated and connected vehicles on non-motorized modes—including synergies and conflicts. Potential effects comprise dimensions such as safety, mode choice, use of roadway space, built environment, or land-use. Thus, this research contributes to MATS’ energy and land-use research areas.
  2. Based on the synergies and conflicts identified in (1) the study will develop planning and policy guidelines and priorities for promoting non-motorized transport in a time of emerging automated and connected vehicles. Research results will help inform regulations of AV and non-motorized modesprovide guidance for local planners when implementing AV and non-motorized projects; and inform the automobile industry about potential conflicts with policy goals to promote non-motorized modes; and
  3. Identify knowledge gaps in planning for non-motorized mode in an AV future, pointing to future research needs for planning, policy, and regulation of AVs and non-motorized modes.

Web Links to Reports and to the Project website