Biking and Walking/Active Transportation

Active Transportation (Walking and Biking)

Active Transportation, also known as non-motorized transportation, refers to human-powered mode of travel such as walking and biking, primarily. The regional transportation system currently lacks sufficient non-motorized provisions along many corridors where bicycling and walking should be viable travel choices--especially for short trips. In light of rising energy costs, an aging population, public health concerns, and increasing demand for alternatives to motor vehicle travel, there is a growing need for infrastructure and development patterns that support what has widely become known as "active transportation."

2015 Active Transportation Plan

The purpose of the Birmingham Regional Active Transportation Plan (ATP) is closely tied to the Regional Transportation Plan's aim to ensure adequate access and multiple mobility choices for residents of the region. The Birmingham ATP is intended to serve as a resource for the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and its member governments to plan, fund, and ultimately provide facilities that allow for travel by these means. The ATP:

  • Introduces the general concepts of active transportation
  • Indicates where the region falls nationally
  • Explains both the historical and current cultural attributes that have informed the active transportation facilities
  • Explores the need for policies to solidify the planning process
  • Reviews programming and educational initiatives that will bolster the demand for active transportation and
  • Informs the implementation and funding process for pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

A full copy of the 2015 Active Transportation Plan can be found » here

1996 Birmingham Area Bicycle, Pedestrian & Greenway Plan

In 1996 local and regional governments in Jefferson and Shelby Counties recognized the importance of bicycling and walking, and developed the Birmingham Area Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenway Plan to establish new goals for the transportation system. The 1996 Plan produced a visionary map for on-road and off-road facilities for both a long and short term timeframe. This map was based on quantitative analysis that gauged bicycle suitability for each stretch of roadway. It measured user comfort through a tool that accounted for physical space, speed, vehicle interaction and other factors to report out the Bicycle Level of Service (BLOS). The 1996 Plan remains relevant today because of its technical approach.

Technical reports that were produced as companion documents to the Final Plan include:

  • Assessment of Resources Report:This report includes a comprehensive analysis of conditions for bicycling and walking as of 1995. It also details potential corridors for greenway and rail-trail development.
  • Vision Goals and Policy Report:This report summarizes an initial series of visioning workshops held with local citizens, and outlines new policies that will integrate bicycle and pedestrian considerations as well as standard government procedure.
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility Design GuidelinesThis manual provides standards for the physical development of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, as well as guidance on facility selection.
  • Guidelines for a Walkable Community:This manual provides guidance on zoning and subdivision regulations that can improve the walking environment on a community level.
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Education and Encouragement Report: The report details the components of an effective bicycle education strategy with specific recommendations for the Birmingham Area.
  • Demonstration Project Report:This report provides the results of three Demonstration Projects, including a discussion of opportunities and constraints, recommendations for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and typical cross sections.
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Network Analysis: This report provides technical explanations of models used to measure: a) current bicycle level of service on Birmingham area roadways; and b) latent demand for bicycle and pedestrian travel in specific on-road and off-road corridors.

Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System Plan

In 2010, the Freshwater Land Trust (FWLT), received grant funding to develop a greenway master plan for Jefferson County, Alabama. The purpose of this plan was to develop a feasible strategy for greenways and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that would promote active and healthy living, encourage alternate modes of transportation, and protect regional waterways.

The Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System Plan presents a roadmap for a regional greenway and street-based trail system to connect communities across Jefferson County. The plan proposes over 200 miles of shared-use greenways and trails along six main corridors, as well as over 600 miles of street-based bicycle and pedestrian pathways that aim to connect the corridors and surrounding areas.

The Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System Plan is primarily designed as an implementation tool, supplying all the information municipalities and cooperating organizations need to apply for grants to fund the site design and construction of trail segments. Existing greenways and bicycle-pedestrian master plans at the municipal level were carefully incorporated into the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System Plan, to ensure connections are made between communities as part of the overall network.

The City of Birmingham has formally adopted the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System Plan and has strongly encouraged local governments to review and adopt their portion of the Red Rock Plan.

Additional information can be found at or by contacting the Freshwater Land Trust.


Birmingham BikeShare planning began in the summer of 2013. Through its CommuteSmart Program, the RPCGB conducted a feasibility study and implementation plan for the City of Birmingham, which was completed in July 2014. Through the cooperation of REV Birmingham, RPCGB, and the City of Birmingham, Zyp BikeShare was deployed in October 2015 with 40 kiosks and 400 bikes which can be rented 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

How to Cycle in the City

Feasibility Studies