All across the country, opportunities exist to connect communities by trail. In some places, the work is underway and the benefits to people and places are already being realized. In other places, these networks are an idea ready to be brought to life. Everywhere, the opportunity exists to bring connected trail systems to the forefront—especially as changing expectations about mobility and rapid technological developments in transportation are forcing new conversations about the future of mobility and the built environment.
TrailNation is RTC’s program—and strategy—focused on redefining what it means to build trail networks and what trail networks can mean for people and places. This work is building momentum for trails, walking and biking, ensuring that we seize opportunities to connect more trails and that we do it strategically so that projects can quickly be replicated nationwide and investments in trail network infrastructure can be understood as valuable and transformative. Through TrailNation, we’re making sure that trail networks are appreciated as vital community assets that bring powerful solutions to issues as far-ranging as chronic disease, environmental sustainability and resilience, mobility, social equity and economic growth.
We know that three kinds of change—in public policy, infrastructure and behavior—are necessary to realize our vision of a country connected by trails. That’s why we advocate for changes in public policy at the national, state and local levels to dramatically increase public investment in creating safe places to walk and bike; target those public investments to catalyze changes in infrastructure and build trail networks; and encourage behavior change by promoting information and resources that help more people access trails in their communities.
In eight places across the country—places diverse in their geography, culture, size and scope—RTC is investing in projects and working with hundreds of organizations and local partners to build trail networks that demonstrate what it looks like when our theory of change is put to work. These projects—in the San Francisco Bay Area, southeast Wisconsin, the industrial heartland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Miami and southeast Texas—are central to our strategy to connect communities nationwide by trail. Each of these networks provides evidence of the benefits of regional trail and active transportation systems.