Community Trail Development Guide

VDOT developed this guide to aid the process of grassroots trail planning, based on the knowledge of experienced planners, research of best practices around the nation as well as the State, and the understanding gained from trail development process in the Town of Middleburg.

by Virginia Department of Transportation

The term “trails” is often used to describe a variety of paved and unpaved pedestrian and bike facilities, ranging from informal recreational networks serving mountain bikers and hikers to formal AASHTO specified facilities providing vital transportation connections within a community.

This guidebook focuses on shared-use paths, an important ingredient in the transportation system’s multi-modal network. Shared-use paths (referred to as “trails” throughout this document) provide pedestrians and bicyclists, access to activity centers such as schools, libraries, town centers, parks, businesses, employment centers and recreational facilities. A well planned trail may offer opportunities for several markets: a safe route to school for children, bicycle commuters, neighborhood recreational activities, and competitive runners.

A shared-use path is one of the five facilities to accommodate bicycling; others include on-street bicycle lanes, designated roadway shoulders, a wide outside travel lane designed and signed for bicycle use, and a signed shared use residential street. There are many types of trail surfaces, each tailored to the users and providing a unique experience

Attached document published February 2012

About the Author


The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is responsible for building, maintaining and operating the state's roads, bridges and tunnels. And, through the Commonwealth Transportation Board, it provides funding for airports, seaports, rail and public transportation. Virginia has the third-largest state-maintained highway system in the country, behind Texas and North Carolina.

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