Monday, October 20, 2008

Rails-to-Trails Seeks Federal Investment for Walking, Biking

Hart-Montague Rail Trail
the Hart Montague Rail-Trail
a news release of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Rails-to-Trails (RTC) is releasing a written case statement today demonstrating how communities could shift a significant percentage of driving trips to walking and biking, resulting in substantial benefits to mobility, health, greenhouse gas emissions and the local economy.

The announcement occurs on the same day that dozens of communities nationwide join the national nonprofit RTC in releasing case statements calling for greater federal investment in walking and biking.

"Too often, communities have been designed to accommodate cars instead of people," says Kevin Mills, vice-president of policy for RTC. "Many seek to walk or bicycle for short trips but hesitate for lack of safe and convenient places to do so. But where communities have begun to build active transportation systems, walking and bicycling have increased dramatically."

The goal: empowering dozens of communities to each advocate for $50 million in federal funds to make focused investments in infrastructure and programs to shift automobile trips to walking and biking. The campaign aims to double the federal investment in active transportation in the next reauthorization.

Consider the impact of this investment if there were a safe way to bicycle from Scottville to Ludington, or Pentwater to Hart. Each of those distances is under ten miles, and many people might choose to commute on two wheels instead of four if given the option.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy works to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines, connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.

Today, RTC is also releasing a report, "Active Transportation for America," funded by Bikes Belong (a national bicycle advocacy group), that quantifies for the first time the significant contribution bicycling and walking can make to our nation’s transportation system.

King County (Washington) Executive Ron Sims relates the role his parents played in the civil rights movement and his love of trails which, he ultimately realized, connect and unite communities (from the 2007 Trailink Conference).

The "Active Transportation for America" report can be found at Rails-to-Trails
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