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Making the Case for Active Transportation
Issue Briefs

Mini-reports addressing each of the five major issue areas related to active transportation are available below, along with key talking points.

Please let us know if you have research or case studies to share. Contact Tracy Loh, Research Manager, at


  • Nearly half of all trips in the United States are three miles or less.
  • Building more roads alone does not significantly mitigate congestion.
  • Active transportation investments lead to increased mode share. In Minneapolis, 28 percent of all trips involve walking or biking.

Public Health

  • The obesity epidemic results in 300,000 annual deaths and $117 billion in health-related expenses.
  • Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.
  • Integrating exercise into daily trips is an easy and fun way to meet this requirement.

Economic Development

  • Since car ownership is the second largest expenditure for the average American household, driving less can free up substantial resources for other needs.
  • Trails consistently increase property values along their corridors.
  • Trails are the top community amenity potential homebuyers seek in a new neighborhood.


  • Automobiles account for 20 percent of U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions.
  • Automobile emissions are rising due to more people, more cars per person, and more miles driven per car.
  • Walking and biking currently yield greater CO2 reductions than other popular solutions like hybrid cars.

Family and Community

  • Build community by connecting residences, retail and commercial centers, educational facilities, recreation areas, and other assets via trails.
  • Provide safe places free of traffic for children and others to learn bicycling skills.
  • Improve equity by providing accessible transportation choices for children, the elderly, disabled populations and low-income groups.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037