Keith Laughlin at Flat Branch Park
in Columbia, Mo.
Countdown to 2010
I will never forget that moment in September 2003. I was about to speak at a trail event in Vermont when my cell phone rang with the news. For the previous five weeks we had been coordinating an intensive grassroots campaign to save the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program, which has been vital to creating 15,000 miles of rail-trail.
Even some of our friends thought we were going to lose this crucial vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead, I was able to excitedly tell the crowd that we had scored a huge bipartisan victory by a vote of 327 to 90. The TE program was saved.
That roll call vote was a defining moment for trail and bicycle advocacy. For the first time, our national political system had clearly reflected the American peoples' strong support for creating more safe and pleasant places to walk and bike.
After the dust had cleared, we at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy were left to ponder one intriguing question: If we could organize a campaign like that in five weeks, what could we do in five years? We decided to find out.
The next multi-year federal transportation bill passed Congress in 2005, providing $4.5 billion for trails, walking and biking. The very next day we announced a five-year effort to double federal investment in creating safe places to walk and bike—which we later named the 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation.
Since kicking off that campaign, we have been busy laying the groundwork for the next federal transportation bill. We have been doing grassroots organizing in more than 50 communities. We have built an ever-growing e-mail list of more than 50,000 trail supporters. We have released a groundbreaking national report making the case for increased investment in walking and biking. We helped secure more than $800 million in additional TE funding in the recent stimulus bill.
Thanks to the strong backing of our 100,000 members and supporters during the first four years of this campaign, we are perfectly positioned to achieve an even greater victory in the next transportation bill. But as we enter the homestretch of our 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation, we need your support now more than ever. Find out how you can get involved in your community at www.railstotrails.org/2010, and raise your voice in support of increased funding for trails. Together, we can help ensure a greater nationwide commitment to trails, walking and biking for generations to come.