Photo by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

The Trail Modeling and Assessment Platform (T-MAP), launched in June 2014, is a $1.2 million, three-year initiative to create the next generation of urban trail planning tools. Through T-MAP, RTC is leading a nationwide effort to create a set of data collection instruments, methodologies and analysis tools that will transform the way America thinks about—and develops—trails and trail networks.

T-MAP Platform

The core of the platform is a suite of general analytical models that can be used independently for a specific purpose, or in concert, depending on a community’s needs and goals.

There are three core models:

  • A GIS-based method for measuring trail system connectivity
  • A trail-use demand factoring and forecasting model
  • A set of impact assessment tools that translate trail use into dollars related to health and transportation impacts


The platform includes a set of data collection instruments that will set a next-generation standard for active transportation research. To develop T-MAP, RTC will collect data on trail use and trail users in 12 urban areas throughout the U.S.

T-MAP Proposed Areas


The ultimate goal of the T-MAP project is to create communication tools for understanding, explaining and persuading—with regard to trails and trail development.

As the desired outcome of the project is not just research, but also the on-the-ground construction of trails, T-MAP will allow communities to convert model output into tables, graphs and factsheets for use in daily trail building, policy and planning work.

Through T-MAP, RTC will lead the first-ever nationwide survey of trail use and produce models and metrics that can precisely forecast the returns on investment that trails and greenways stimulate around the country. Communities will have a new ability to speak about active and future trails in terms of dollars saved on health, transportation and much more.

Research Team

An advisory committee comprised of leading researchers and practitioners from transportation, health and economics will oversee T-MAP's development to ensure that each platform component is accurate and credible. The research team is led by Dr. Tracy Hadden Loh, RTC's director of research, and includes Dr. Greg Lindsey of the University of Minnesota, Dr. Mike Lowry of the University of Idaho and Dr. Thomas Gotschi of the University of Zurich.

Time Line

Project Year 1 and 2: Data collection and creation of modeling and assessment tools
Project Year 3: Initial deployment of T-MAP with trail building partners