Brooke Struve, P.E. (M) is a design program manager as part of the Safety and Design Team Resource Center of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) near Denver, CO, USA. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University and has been with FHWA since 2002 after a brief stint with Utah DOT. At BYU, she became interested in mountain biking as a recreational activity. Her early work in safety, geometric design, and road safety audits intersected with a personal passion with bicycling. Through a bicycle trail project, her career work in this area accelerated. When the Resource Center assessed the national core crash types—roadway departure, intersection, and pedestrian/bicycle, Brooke embraced the opportunity to get involved in bicycle design. It was one of those “dive in with both feet” moments where she could use her personal experience with bike facilities and directly apply it to her work.
The FHWA Bikeway Selection Guide was the next step to help practitioners choose the best bicycle facility for the context, characteristics, and users. Because of her geometric design background, Brooke was engaged to the task and supported the team in its development. She considers the comfort and safety of bicycle users in her work. It extends to the training sessions she does for many DOTs providing guidance in bicyclist safety. Many times, it’s enlightening designers to the importance of details in bicycle design and facility types. For more see the July ITE Journal article, “Decision Making Support for Bikeway Selection.”
ITE has been there as a platform to share ideas about bicycle safety. Brooke attended the last two ITE Annual Meetings and found the general sessions fascinating by exposing her to ideas that were not in her wheelhouse, opening her eyes to meaningful concepts. She recalls a presenter from Pennsylvania sharing that community use of bicycle facilities goes beyond the point A to point B distance and utility to how comfortable a user feels about the trip. At last year’s meeting in Austin, TX, USA, Brooke attended a workshop on micromobility and explored how e-scooters and e-bikes will affect design of pedestrian and bicycle facilities of the future.
This year Brooke is a presenter. She tends to get nervous and think about how to get her message across to the audience in 10 minutes while hitting the best points. That is where she feels she gains the most knowledge. Brooke is passionate about bicycle design and able to tell stories naturally from her personal experience. It makes it easier for her. She got thrown into public speaking at an early age. It seemed like she could sit down with two or three people and converse on bicycles for hours. Brooke translated the feeling of talking with people personally into presentations as a way to tell her story. The fear of running out of material to talk about has been replaced with the prioritization of her most important findings. Brooke likes getting the message out, and loves the moments when the audience lights up and the gears start turning toward solutions for communities.
ITE has also opened doorways to mentors and people to learn from. From a summit with Dongho Chang of the City of Seattle who spoke about being flexible in approaching pedestrian and bicycle safety, to participating with Bill Schultheiss of Toole Design Group in a panel discussion in Delaware on bicycle design, both have been great resources to Brooke, and ITE has kept the conversations and access open for sharing. It has also broadened understandings in dealing with persons in authority. Sometimes they will say things that cannot be done in the time constraints or say things are prohibited because of a standard. Having shared experiences with others helps identify where perceptions are driving a discussion rather than evidence and facts. ITE has been great in sharing the facts.
Bicycle design and safety is evolving and ITE is providing opportunities for all of us to share in this experience. Brooke’s session will advance that topic another step and hopefully provide ideas to Shape Your Community.
Brooke will be presenting Tuesday, August 4, from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m ET at the virtual ITE Annual Meeting in the session on Innovative Infrastructure for Person-Sized Transportation. Learn more about this session here.