Photo by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

RTC has led many successful campaigns to ensure funding for trails and that decision-makers understand the importance of trails nationwide. We work to show that walking and biking are critical as recreational activities and are key elements of our nation’s transportation system.

Here are just a few examples of our powerful communications and policy campaign achievements over the past several years—made possible by the collective voices of our members and supporters.

Making Missouri’s Rock Island Line Trail a Reality

In Fall 2014, the owner of the 145-mile inactive Rock Island Line corridor in Missouri announced its intention to undertake the necessary steps to ensure the corridor is railbanked and preserved for future trail development by the state of Missouri. This development came on the heels of a statewide petitioning campaign led by RTC and local partners, in which 11,000 supporters were mobilized and made their voices heard.

By helping to successfully preserve this corridor, we have helped facilitate the creation of a vibrant rail-trail as well as a 450-mile world-class trail network.

Solidifying Support for the Recreational Trails Program (Hey Governor!)

In 2013, RTC launched a campaign that resulted in more than 10,400 people sending messages to governors across the country, urging them to continue to participate in the Recreational Trails Program, which provides vital federal funding for rail-trails and other biking and walking programs. Forty-nine states remained in the program for 2014, highlighting the amazing the power of trail advocacy statewide and nationally.

Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Project

RTC played an essential role in encouraging Congress to establish the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program in 2005, to demonstrate how investing in trail networks can encourage people to choose biking and walking as their primary way to get around. Four communities (Columbia, Mo.; Marin County, Calif.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Sheboygan County, Wis.) received more than $25 million each over four years to implement innovative programs and build new walking and biking infrastructure—resulting in 85 million miles of biking and walking as opposed to driving between 2009 and 2013. Visit the Federal Highway Administration’s website to read more about the program and view the final report.

Pennsylvania’s Commitment to Walking and Bicycling

When Pennsylvania passed a transportation bond bill in 2013, it was a big win for walking and biking in the state. The bill sets a minimum of $2 million to be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities annually and creates a $144 million fund that can be used for trail, walking and biking projects. RTC was actively involved in the campaign and worked together with partners in the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition to successfully ensure that trails, walking and bicycling become a growing part of Pennsylvania’s transportation future alongside roads, ports, freight rail and public transportation.

California’s Active Transportation Program

In 2013, RTC was instrumental in passing Senate Bill 99, creating California’s first active transportation program to increase the amount of trips taken by biking and walking while increasing safety, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing physical health and preventing air pollution. Senate Bill 95 and Assembly Bill 101 provided $129 million in funding for the first year of the new program.

RTC worked closely with partners such as the Coalition for Recreational Trails, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, California WALKS, California Bicycle Coalition, PolicyLink, TransForm and the Public Health Institute, and a number of other state organizations, to achieve success. Phone calls and emails from individual supporters played a critical role in showing public officials how much support there already was for trails, walking and bicycling.

50,000 Names in Support of Trails

In 2010, the American Automobile Association (AAA) took a disturbing position suggesting that the small percentage of the federal transportation bill, which helps support trails, and biking and walking infrastructure, be diverted to more highway projects. In response to this, RTC mounted a massive three-month campaign petitioning AAA to change their position, demonstrating that a balanced transportation bill that includes support for active transportation projects benefits us all. More than 50,000 people signed this petition, including more than 33,000 AAA members.

It was a powerful campaign that concluded with the president of RTC delivering the 50,000 names in person at AAA headquarters in Florida.