FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MORE THAN 51,000 OBJECT TO AAA MONEY GRAB:
Rail-to-Trails Conservancy hand-delivers national petition to AAA headquarters demanding continued support of federal funding for trails, walking and biking
WASHINGTON, D.C. D.C.-based nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) hand-delivered 51,377 signatures to AAA headquarters today, demanding AAA rescind its position to kick trail, walking and bicycling programs out of the federal transportation trust fund. Sixty-five percent of signers are AAA members.
More than 25 RTC supporter-cyclists joined RTC leaders and local Florida bicycle and pedestrian advocates on a ride from OutSpoke'N Bike Shop in Lake Mary, Fla., to AAA headquarters in Heathrow, Fla., to deliver the petition. The ride was on the federally funded Seminole-Wekiva Trail—a trail in AAA's front yard that, ironically, was developed using the same funding programs AAA would eliminate.
RTC launched this national petition in September to shine a light on AAA's damaging lobbying that calls for taking dedicated money from programs like Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School, and diverting it for highways and roads. Currently, these programs receive just 1.5 cents on the surface transportation dollar, yet they provide communities across the country tremendous health, economic and transportation benefits.
"AAA needs to acknowledge that trails are a part of the transportation future," said Keith Laughlin, president of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. "We want a balanced transportation future for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers—where people have low- and no-cost options for travel that also happen to provide convenient places for improved public health, bring economic vitality to communities and make roadways safer and less congested. Tens of millions of people want safe and convenient places to bicycle and walk. Today we offer AAA the signatures of more than 51,000 of these Americans, 33,000 of whom are AAA members."
The Highway Trust Fund—an anachronism from the 1950s—has supported modes of balanced transportation through the federal gas tax since the inclusion of transit in 1970 and bicycling and walking in 1991.
"AAA is out of touch with the progress and promise of the last 20 years toward a more balanced transportation system," said Kevin Mills, vice president of policy for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. "AAA is out of touch with its own members who seek more dedicated funding for trails, bicycle and pedestrian programs, because these investments create communities we all want to live in."
For more information, visit www.railstotrails.org/AAA.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 150,000 members and supporters, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information visit www.railstotrails.org.