Frequently Asked Questions
Campaign for Active Transportation
General Campaign Questions & Background
- What is the campaign?
- What communities are involved?
- What other national organizations have signed on to the campaign?
- Are mode-shift numbers from the nonmotorized pilots in SAFETEA-LU available to show that such federal investments are effective?
- If I will be speaking with members of my congressional delegation about the campaign, should I contact RTC?
Case Statement Questions
- Can I get a sample case statement?
- How will community case statements be used?
- Should case statements focus only on trails, or on other facilities as well?
- To whom should letters of support be addressed?
- Should we focus primarily in the center city, or be broader in geographic scope?
- What should be included in the executive summary?
- How should we submit our completed case statement?
Questions About the Campaign's Future
- How will the campaign proceed from here?
- How "definite" is the program? Is funding for the program secured?
- What if more than 40 communities express interest?
- If the program is successful, who will determine which communities are involved?
- Where will the money come from? Will funding come from Transportation Enhancements (TE) or other programs?
General Campaign Questions & Background
1) What is the campaign?
The Campaign for Active Transportation is an effort to elevate trails, walking and biking nationally by doubling the federal investment in active transportation. Specifically, the campaign centers around an urban reinvestment strategy in which dozens of communities are empowered to advocate for federal funds to make focused investments in infrastructure and programs to shift automobile trips to walking and biking.
The campaign builds off of the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP), Sec. 1807 of the 2005 federal transportation bill SAFETEA-LU. The NTPP funded four communities nationally (Columbia, Mo., Marin County, Calif., Minneapolis, Minn., and Sheboygan County, Wis.) with $25 million each spread over four years to promote walking and biking. The campaign aims to expand the NTPP into a full-fledged program with dozens of communities each receiving $50 million for their active transportation programs.
2) What communities are involved?
Communities from across the country and of all sizes are involved in the campaign. A list of engaged communities—i.e., those that have submitted local active transportation case statements to RTC will be available once these documents have been submitted and processed, sometime in the summer of 2008.
3) What other national organizations have signed on to the campaign?
The primary strength of the campaign derives from a bottom-up strategy of giving voice to persuasive local advocates from communities across the country. Also critical will be sympathetic leaders in Congress who are positioned to champion the effort. RTC serves on the Executive Committee of T4 America, a national transportation reform coalition, representing America Bikes, a coalition of national bicycling advocacy groups like the League of American Bicyclists and Thunderhead. These groups are just beginning to develop their platforms for transportation reauthorization, but will move forward quickly this summer in anticipation of serious reauthorization deliberations starting in the fall of 2008.
4) Are mode-shift numbers from the nonmotorized pilots in SAFETEA-LU available to show that such federal investments are effective?
To create significant shifts from cars to nonmotorized (or active) transportation modes requires substantial and focused investments over extended time periods. To observe such shifts requires not only time, but also regular tracking through surveys. Such research is currently being undertaken as part of the nonmotorized pilot project and will be available sometime after 2010. The initial measurements of a before-and-after Interim Report to Congress on transportation modes is completed. The pilot communities are currently making the sort of investments that have resulted elsewhere in mode shift over time.
While mode shift data are not available for the pilots, other resources are available for those seeking confirmation that well-designed active transportation facilities and programs results in mode shift. Portland, Ore., is perhaps the most well-known example in the United States; in 15 years, the city quintupled the number of bicycle miles traveled through a vast increase in the number of miles of bicycle facilities. Additionally, initial data for the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) indicate that Minneapolis, Minn. has attained a mode split for 28 percent of all trips involve walking or biking (when access to transit is taken into account), due to earlier investments in active transportation.
5) If I will be speaking with members of my congressional delegation about the campaign, should I contact RTC?
It is important that RTC be kept in the loop about any conversations with members of Congress about the campaign. Ideally, RTC should be contacted both before the meeting (to give us a heads-up and to allow us to provide you suggestions on messaging to ensure your member's support), as well as after (so we can track such conversations to inform future meetings). This is not intended as a muzzle, but rather as a service; if an opportunity to engage a congressperson presents itself without advance warning, the chance to discuss the campaign and the need for more walking and biking should not be missed.
Contact: E-mail Marianne Fowler (email@example.com) and cc: Kartik Sribarra (firstname.lastname@example.org) and any RTC staff with whom you have worked closely to discuss upcoming congressional meetings.
Contact RTC about an upcoming meeting now.
Case Statement Questions
6) Can I get a sample case statement?
Since each community is unique, no one case statement would serve as a model for all communities. Therefore, to give more transferable guidance on content that would be useful to include in case statements, we have created a fairly comprehensive list of elements we believe are most important to consider including in your case statement. This list is available in Sec. 2B of the Campaign Guidance Document.
7) How will community case statements be used?
Local active transportation case statements will be posted on RTC's Web site*. These case statements may be consulted by congressional staffers researching the campaign or others looking for more information on a particular community.
Further, compelling examples from select communities' case statements will be culled for use in a national case statement. RTC will use this national study to make the case to Congress and others to justify the program.
Finally, the utility of the case statements as a tool to be used by local advocates and supporters should not be underestimated. These documents present your best case for increased walking and biking resources, along with a coherent plan to shift trips to walking and bicycling. From town hall gatherings to meetings with your congressional delegation, your case statement should be a useful leave-behind.
* For communities that have indicated they do not want their case statements made publicly available, alternatives include posting only the executive summary or just the community's name and a local contact. If you have not made your preference known through the campaign survey, please e-mail Kartik Sribarra at email@example.com to discuss.
8) Should case statements focus only on trails, or on other facilities as well?
The ultimate goal of the program is to shift trips to walking and biking. As such, your case statement should focus on facilities and strategies that advance this goal. Therefore, you should consider completing (or working toward the completion of) a seamless network of on- and off-road facilities, providing adequate trails and bicycle boulevards to encourage novice cyclists, linking active transportation routes with transit and destinations—in general, connecting places where people live, work and play. Additionally, Personal Transportation Planning (PTP) programs should be considered to improve bicycle and pedestrian mode share.
9) To whom should letters of support be addressed?
Letters should be addressed to your congressional delegation: your two senators and your representative (or representatives, if your community bridges multiple congressional districts).
10) Should we focus primarily in the center city, or be broader in our campaign region?
The question of geographic scope arises frequently, and is one that must be deliberated and addressed locally. Factors that will influence your decision include local and regional political support, governance bodies that may be able to provide additional resources if they are included, how the exclusion of local or regional groups might be perceived, and more. Again, note that the ultimate goal is mode shift, so questions of geographic scope should take into consideration density, land use, street patterns, and other factors.
11) What should be included in the executive summary?
The one-page executive summary should present the overall aim of your case statement. By speaking succinctly to your community strengths and potential, you allow those with limited time to understand the need for more local active transportation. Be sure to include participating groups, the date of publication and contact information in your executive summary.
12) How should we submit our completed case statement?
Please ensure that case statements are in PDF format (CutePDF may be useful for this), and that the file name includes your community name for identification purposes.
Case statements that are 10MB in size or less can be e-mailed directly to Kartik Sribarra at firstname.lastname@example.org. Larger case statements should be submitted to RTC via a file-transfer protocol (FTP) upload, as follows:
- Right-click on the "Start" button on the Windows bar (bottom-left of your screen).
- Select "Explore."
- In the address bar of the window that appears, paste or type ftp://220.127.116.11
- Enter your username RTC_Policy and password case$
- Copy your case statement from your computer (select the file, then press ctrl-c) and paste it in the new FTP window (ctrl-v).
- If you would like your executive summary available online as a stand-alone document, be sure to submit it as a separate PDF document.
- Close the FTP window after you see your file appear there.
- IMPORTANT: Let us know that your case statement has been submitted.
Next Steps & Beyond
13) How will the campaign proceed from here?
RTC's next major step is to develop a national case statement for the campaign using your local active transportation case statements as examples and evidence of the opportunities to elevate biking, walking and trails as transportation. The national case will be a resource for your local and federal advocacy work, and RTC will use it to build support among leading decision-makers for the overall program.
The coming political phase of the campaign will cast campaign leaders at the community level as front-line advocates for their proposals. RTC aims to help these advocates effectively help themselves, and to create an overall political context within which the program will be treated as a reauthorization priority. RTC will work with communities to develop tailored political strategies, with national coalitions to raise the profile of the program, and directly in the halls of Congress to build support among key leaders.
14) How "definite" is the program? Is funding secured?
The campaign is currently in the organizing and advocacy stage. There is no guarantee that Congress will ultimately fund the program, how the program will be funded, or how any possible funding will be allocated. RTC will advocate for our vision of the program, informed by participating communities, conversations with congressional members and staff, and others. RTC believes that the compelling work being done by the nonmotorized pilots and communities working on case statements will position us well to convince decision-makers to make the program a priority.
15) What if more than 40 communities apply for the program?
It is our goal that walking and bicycling become mainstream transportation options in communities across America. Therefore, we are building a movement to convince Congress to create an ambitious program. The more successful we are, the more resources there might be. If many communities across the country together make a compelling case for more active transportation resources, the likelihood of more resources increases dramatically. Road and highway spending dominates transportation funding; by working together, advocates can attract more resources to active transportation nationally.
16) If the program is successful, who will determine which communities are involved?
RTC will present Congress with a national case statement and other materials, culling stories from participating communities. It will then be up to Congress to determine if the program becomes law, and if so, which communities ultimately participate. Alternately, Congress may establish a process for the Executive Branch to determine the participating communities.
17) Where will the money come from? Will funding come from Transportation Enhancements (TE) or another program?
Program funding should not come from Transportation Enhancements (TE), the nation's primary source of funding for active transportation. Rather, we envision a new program that supplements TE's focus on projects with more comprehensive opportunities to develop active transportation systems to deliver mode shift.
SAFETEA-LU, the previous transportation bill passed in 2005, had a budget of nearly $300 billion. If past trends are any indication, the next transportation bill will be even larger. Of this total, active transportation received about 1.5 percent—although walking and biking trips account for nearly 10 percent, and likely more, of total work trips in the country. In the face of transportation, climate change and public health challenges, our nation must invest in active transportation. The return on investment of this amount of funding is significantly greater for active transportation than it would be for highway programs. As this is transportation funding (not merely "highway" funding), it is incumbent on our decision-makers to provide for users of all modes in an equitable fashion.