San Diego is now NACTO’s Newest Member

As of this morning, San Diego is now a NACTO member.


San Diego has finally joined the likes of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. to determine how to work on finding solutions to our transportation woes and figure out how best to carve out space for all road users including the historically neglected ones like bicycle riders.

What is NACTO?

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit association that represents large cities on transportation issues of local, regional and national significance. NACTO views the transportation departments of major cities as effective and necessary partners in regional and national transportation efforts, promoting their interests in federal decision-making. We facilitate the exchange of transportation ideas, insights and best practices among large cities, while fostering a cooperative approach to key issues facing cities and metropolitan areas.

Encouraging the city of San Diego to join NACTO was one of our goals for our first year.

NACTO caused a buzz two years ago when they launched their urban bikeway guide, a long overdue antidote to our very auto-centric design guidelines that our city transportation officials have had to rely on decades. This has resulted in, predictably, San Diego being a very auto-dominated city.

Los Angeles was one of the early member cities of NACTO and we’ve had nothing but admiration for the leaps and strides that L.A. has made toward making their streets more friendly to their bicycle riding residents. We believe that a lot of L.A.’s success had to do with signing on to be a NACTO member city and then learning from and sharing with other NACTO member cities ideas and strategies on how best to accommodate all road users.

Last year we asked Michelle Mowery, Senior Bicycle Coordinator at the City of Los Angeles, the significance of having a city join NACTO:

BikeSD: How does a city benefit when it signs on to become a NACTO member. What are some of the downsides? What are some of the upsides?

Michelle Mowery: Since my expertise is bicycling I can only address the bike aspect but NACTO gives big cities the opportunity to share ideas and design concepts within circumstances that are not often shared by smaller, less urban cities.  We use the NACTO Guide as a reference as we seek to develop new and experimental projects in the city.  For example we are working on a cycletrack or protected bicycle lane in the Figueroa corridor and we’ve looked to the Guide for examples of how we might develop the design.  The downside is that the document and the designs have yet to be adopted by Caltrans (although for the first time Caltrans is in the process of developing an experimental process for the testing of new bikeways design that is a direct outgrowth of the NACTO Guide) and thus it does not protect us from liability as we move forward with testing some of these new concepts in Los Angeles.  That said are taking steps to protect the city from liability as we work on these projects by working with Caltrans and the FWHA on the experimental projects.

The efforts of NACTO have helped all of us who are implementing bike infrastructure to expand our tool boxes.

While the Feds and the State slowly inch their way into figuring out how to accommodate all roads users in a manner that more inviting and safer than it currently is, we’re certainly thrilled that San Diego has joined the growing list of cities willing to forge a new path forward.