Celebrating 20 Years of Creating Active Communities


Join us as we reflect on the past two decades of creating healthy, safe, vibrant, and active communities. 



Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act

The 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) establishes dedicated funding streams for bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs, a turning point for nonmotorized transportation.


National Bicycling and Walking Study

FHWA publishes the groundbreaking National Bicycling and Walking Study.

The Association for Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) is conceived by a group of bike coordinators and advocacy leaders during the national Pro Walk Pro Bike conference in Portland, Oregon.


Alta Planning + Design


California-based transportation planner Michael Jones launches Alta Planning + Design after recognizing the need and opportunity for a full-fledged multi-disciplinary firm focused solely on improving communities through active transportation. He is joined soon after by Mia Birk and George Hudson.


#WalkBikeForward with Michael Jones


Alliance for Bicycling and Walking

Initially working solely as a national coalition of local pedestrian advocacy organizations, America Walks is founded by groups such as Walk Boston, Walk Austin, Walk New York, and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition. Leaders of the Bicycle Federation of America (now the National Center for Bicycling and Walking) invite 25 bicycle advocates to the remote Thunderhead Ranch in Wyoming, which leads to the formation of the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking.


Portland’s Transformation

1999_mia w pedex bike

The City of Portland Bicycle Program, led by Mia Birk, inspires the nation with its visionary Bicycle Master Plan; rapid implementation of bikeways and bike parking; and groundbreaking studies and application of European safety treatments and encouragement programs. Mia Birk chronicles Portland’s transformation in her 2010 book Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet.


#WalkBikeForward with Mia Birk


#WalkBikeForward with Earl Blumenauer

Earl Blumenauer was first elected to Congress in 1996, representing the Portland area. For 20 years he’s been a champion of biking, walking and livable communities, along with other environmental and social issues.


1998-2001 US Millennium Trails Program

Millennium Team 1998

First ever White House trails initiative designated 16 National Millennium Trails, representing a cross section of the growing trails movement in America.


FHWA Rails with Trails Lessons Learned

2002_FHWA Rails with Trails Report Cover

After four years of case studies, research and analysis led by Alta, the U.S. Department of Transportation releases the seminal FHWA Rails with Trails Lessons Learned Report, which opens the door to development of thousands of miles of trails on or adjacent to active railway lines.


First Bike/Ped University Course at PSU

2002_Mia IBPI class

Mia Birk teams up with Portland State University to offer one of the nation’s first classes on bicycle and pedestrian issues in urban planning. (The first was started in 1996 and still is taught by Alta Principal Jeff Olson at UAlbany.)



Bicycle Friendly America

League of American Bicyclists launches Bicycle Friendly America program, acting as a roadmap for what communities, businesses, universities and states should do next to to improve conditions for bicyclists.


#WalkBikeForward with Tim Young

Tim Young is the Executive Director of Wyoming Pathways.


National Safe Routes to School Program

Safe Routes to School

Federal legislation dedicates $612 million to establish a National Safe Routes to School ProgramAlta works with dozens of communities and schools to make walking and bicycling a viable, safe, and convenient option for students and their families.



Keith Benjamin is a Community Partnerships Manager at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.


Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program

FHWA creates the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program providing over $25 million each to four communities to demonstrate how walking and bicycling infrastructure and programs can increase rates of walking and bicycling. Alta works with the FHWA Pilot Program communities to collect and evaluate data, offer encouragement program campaigns, and manage key projects.


Institute for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation


In 2006, PSU’s College of Urban Studies creates the Institute for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI). IBPI becomes the nation’s education leader, offering graduate-level courses and training, and spearheading cutting edge research on topics such as bicycle boulevards and green bike boxes. To this day, Alta staff continue to teach the next generation of active transportation professionals at universities across the US.


Alta Expands Internationally

2007_Dubai bike station photosim

Alta expands its footprint internationally, helping communities improve their bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and programs in Dubai, China, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, and South America.


National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project

2007_bike count

Alta Planning + Design and the Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian & Bicycle Council initiate the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project to establish a consistent count and survey methodology.


Alta Programs


Alta dedicates an expert team to education and media and outreach campaigns. Since then, the Programs Team has helped over 162,000 households in 31 communities around the US start walking, bicycling, and taking transit more often.


NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide


At its headquarters in 2009, Alta convenes a meeting of leaders from Portland, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston to incubate the idea of an innovative, fresh approach to urban bikeway design guidance, then works hand-in-hand with national and international experts to develop and release the groundbreaking National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide in 2011. The FHWA’s adoption of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide triggers a tipping point in the design of safer, more accessible on-street bikeways throughout the US.


Alta Bicycle Share


Alta Planning + Design spins off a new company, Alta Bicycle Share, and North America’s Bike Share Revolution Begins. Alta Bicycle Share launches and operates bike share systems in Melbourne, Washington DC, Boston, New York, Chicago, Columbus OH, Chattanooga TN, San Francisco, and Seattle, recording 30,000,000+ trips, before being acquired and rebranded as Motivate, Inc. in 2014.


Alta Merges with Greenways, Inc.


Alta merges with Greenways, Inc., a NC-based firm created by ASLA Fellow Chuck Flink, co-author of Greenways: A Guide to Planning, Design and Development, and Trails for the Twenty First Century.


#WalkBikeForward with Chuck Flink

Chuck Flink, FASLA, is one of America’s leading greenway designers.


Razorback Regional Greenway

2010_NWArkansas team

The Walton Family Foundation calls Alta Principal Jeff Olson, Greenways, Inc.’s Chuck Flink and greenway specialist Bob Searns, and the concept of the Razorback Greenway is sparked, one of Alta’s first “mega trails” designed and constructed in the US.


#WalkBikeForward with Karen Minkel

Karen Minkel is Director of the Home Region Program at the Walton Family Foundation.  Alta worked with the foundation on creating a trail system in Northwest Arkansas.


First Protected Intersection

Alta designs Utah’s first protected intersection in Salt Lake City, a revolution in on-street bikeway design in the United States.


Walk Bike Forward


The growth in active transportation continues at a remarkable pace. With protected bikeways championed by the industry coalition People for Bikes and NACTO, communities across North America develop better bikeways. Health leaders and First Lady Michelle Obama champion active lifestyles, and all aspects of active transportation and recreation become a mainstream part of planning, engineering, and economic and health strategy.


#WalkBikeForward with Christopher Douwes

Christopher B. Douwes is a Community Planner for the Federal Highway Administration.


#WalkBikeForward with Randy Neufeld

Randy Neufeld is the Director of the SRAM Cycling Fund and founder of the Active Transportation Alliance in the Chicago area.


#WalkBikeForward with Gil Penalosa

Gil Penalosa, founder and board chair of 8 80 Cities, shares his vision for great communities in the next 20 years.


#WalkBikeForward with Dan Burden

Dan Burden is the Director of Innovation and Inspiration at Blue Zones, as well as cofounder and former Executive Director of the Walkable and Livable Communities (WALC) Institute.


#WalkBikeForward with Michael Coleman


#WalkBikeForward with Gabe Klein


#WalkBikeForward with Ted Eytan


#WalkBikeForward with Martha Roskowski


#WalkBikeForward with Jay Walljasper

Tell us how active transportation has transformed your community! What’s your most memorable active transportation-related moment from the last 20 years? When did your community adopt its first bicycle or pedestrian master plan? Where do you see your community in 2036? Tag us in your posts or use #walkbikeforward, and we’ll repost our favorites! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page!


About Alta

Alta Planning + Design, Inc. is an international consulting firm with a mission to create more active, healthy, and people-focused communities. We plan, design, and implement infrastructure and programs that improve community and individual health, safety, mobility, and livability.

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