Bicycle & Pedestrian Priority Areas (BPPA)

Program Summary

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) works to improve safety for all users and encourages economic prosperity and community vitality by cooperating with local governments to enhance multimodal transportation options. Designating an area as a Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA) facilitates the planning of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in areas with a high potential for bicycling and walking. This collaborative approach helps State and local transportation agencies overcome a wide range of impediments to bicycle and pedestrian travel, regardless of facility ownership.

The Annotated Code of Maryland allows for the creation of BPPAs, and states “Bicycle and pedestrian priority area means a geographical area where the enhancement of bicycle and pedestrian traffic is a priority.”

What the BPPA Designation Means

The BPPA designation identifies a geographical area where bicyclists and pedestrians are priority. It also allows for State and local government to develop a BPPA Plan (BPPAP) for improvements that make the area safe and accommodating.

Once MDOT designates an area as a BPPA, drafting a BPPAP may commence. In partnership with local governments, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) leads BPPAP development. MDOT SHA plans bicycle and pedestrian treatments that align State, local, and stakeholder goals to expand existing or planned bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. If no MDOT SHA roads are within a BPPA, the local agency leads and funds BPPAP development.

BPPAP development includes:

  • Facilitating State, local and stakeholder coordination.
  • Planning bicycle and pedestrian improvements with stakeholder input, land-use plans and master plans.
  • Identifying roadway geometric and operational recommendations to align State and local bicycle and pedestrian planning.
  • Estimating construction costs for proposed bicycle and pedestrian treatments.

Local agency roles and responsibilities include:

  • Applying for a BPPA designation in writing with all required information and a letter to the MDOT SHA Administrator with support from the local planning authority.
  • Demonstrating local support for bicycle and pedestrian mobility.
  • Participating in State and local workgroups for each designated BPPA.
  • Coordinating local community stakeholders and advocacy groups.
  • Leading BPPAP development if no MDOT SHA roadways are within a BPPA.
  • Monitoring and evaluating outcomes.
Coordinate State, local, and private stakeholders Provide State funding for capital improvement projects
Align state and local planning goals Replace existing transportation plans and goals
Provide for potential use of innovative bicycle and pedestrian treatments Supersede existing bicycle and pedestrian design guidelines

Designated BPPAs

MDOT SHA has designated the following BPPAs:

  • Bethesda Central Business District/CBD (Montgomery County).
  • Hagerstown (City of Hagerstown).
  • Town of Kensington
  • Largo Town Center (Prince George's County).
  • Piney Branch/University Boulevard (Montgomery County).
  • Prince George’s Plaza Metro (Prince George’s County).
  • Rockville Town Center (City of Rockville).
  • Silver Spring CBD (Montgomery County).
  • Shady Grove (Montgomery County).
  • Takoma Langley Crossroads (Montgomery County).
  • Village of Tilghman (Talbot County).
  • Wheaton CBD (Montgomery County).
  • White Flint (Montgomery County).

MDOT SHA has completed BPPA Plans for the following BPPAs:

  • Hagerstown (Washington County).
  • Prince George’s Plaza Metro (Prince George’s County).
  • Village of Tilghman (Talbot County).

How the Program Works

Local jurisdictions can apply annually to MDOT SHA for one or more areas to be designated BPPAs. MDOT SHA coordinates the application review and evaluates available resources to determine whether to designate the requested BPPA(s).

The BPPA application process and screening criteria are below.

BPPAP development requires a partnership between applicants and local implementing agencies, such as municipal and county level public works or transportation departments. If a non-implementing agency applies, a letter of support from municipal or county level public works and/or transportation departments is required.

Stakeholder involvement is important when developing a BPPAP. The BPPA applicant must seek stakeholder involvement. Responsibilities include soliciting participation from affected stakeholders and selecting participants for the BPPAP working group.

For each designated BPPA, MDOT SHA convenes a BPPAP working group, including the appropriate MDOT SHA district office, applicant, local implementing agency (if different from the applicant), local planning agency (if different from the applicant) and stakeholder participants to draft a BPPAP to improve safety and access for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

The BPPA designation process includes the following steps:

  1. Application Submittal - Local agencies submit BPPA application to MDOT SHA.
  2. Application Screening – Subject to resource availability, MDOT SHA reviews submitted BPPA applications. MDOT SHA will designate areas with high potential for bicycling and walking, such as main streets, urban areas, and tourist centers, citing a documented local commitment to supporting bicycling and walking.
  3. BPPA Designation - MDOT will designate BPPA(s) with the MDOT SHA Administrator’s concurrence. The number of designations is limited by MDOT SHA staff’s capacity to evaluate BPPA designation(s) and draft BPPAP(s).
  4. BPPAP Development – Subject to resource availability, MDOT SHA leads the BPPAP development in partnership with the local jurisdiction and affected stakeholders that make roadway geometric and operational recommendations. If no MDOT SHA roads are within a BPPA, the local agency leads and funds BPPAP development.
  5. BPPA Evaluation - State and local agencies track and evaluate outcomes as they implement BPPAP recommendations.

Application Screening

MDOT designates up to two BPPA(s) annually in areas with high potential for bicycling and walking. Selection criteria include:

  • Urban areas, main streets and/or tourist centers with high potential for bicycling and walking as transportation modes. These include areas identified by the MDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan as short-trip opportunity areas.
  • A focused area, generally less than one-half mile radius.
  • Areas with surmountable obstacles to bicycling, walking and safety.
  • Areas that emphasize multimodal transportation.
  • Local commitment to bicycling and walking, demonstrated by consistency with comprehensive and/or sector plans, prior investment in bicycle and pedestrian efforts, investment in BPPA efforts, and active maintenance of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Getting Started

Download and complete the BPPA application online here. The BPPA application period opens the first full week of March and closes the first week of May. State BPPA designation decisions will be made the first full week of August.

Supplemental information can be found below under Additional Resources.

The BPPA application package should include:

  1. Signed concurrence letter from implementing local agency management on official letterhead.
  2. Legible map showing the following elements:
    1. Proposed BPPA limits:
       ½-mile maximum radius.   
    2. Land uses that may generate or attract bicycle and/or pedestrian activity:
       e.g., residential areas, commercial areas and other areas of interest that may be unique to the locality.
    3. Specific points that may generate bicycle and/or pedestrian activity:
       e.g., educational facilities, parks and recreational facilities, cultural centers, major employment locations, transit hubs and other major trip generators.
    4. Existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
    5. Planned bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
    6. Obstacles to bicycle and pedestrian routing.
  3. Written justification for BPPA designation, including the following:
    1. Description of BPPA limits.
    2. Description of bicycle and pedestrian activity, opportunities and impediments.
    3. Identification of bicycle and pedestrian obstacles.
    4. Identification of local contribution for BPPAP development and implementation, which may include:
      1. Ability to obtain right of way.
      2. Maintenance commitment.
      3. Community outreach plan.
      4. Financial contribution for BPPAP development.
      5. In-kind contribution for potential projects within BPPA.
      6. Planning support.
      7. Bicycle/pedestrian counts and other supporting data.
    5. References to consistencies with adopted plans:
      1. Planned bicycle and pedestrian routes.
      2. Existing bicycle and pedestrian routes.
      3. Continuity with existing adjacent plans.
  4. Point-of-contact and contact information (name, title, phone, email and address).
  5. Identification of Maryland designations and planning areas,  including but not limited to:
    1. Designated Transit Oriented Development.
    2. Maryland Heritage Area.
    3. Maryland Main Street.
    4. Priority Funding Area.
    5. Sustainable Community.
    6. Scenic Byway.
    7. MDOT SHA Bike Spine.

Additional Resources

If you have any questions, please contact:

Molly Porter
Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner
Regional and Intermodal Planning Division
MDOT State Highway Administration
707 North Calvert Street MS C-502
Baltimore MD  21202