Page 3 - 2011_annualreport

TRAIL POLICY
A Show of Force
The entire FY2011 involved a flurry of policy activity. In August 2010, we
learned via an article in
AAA World
magazine that Don Gagnon, president
and CEO of AAA Mid-Atlantic (American Automobile Association), argued
to restrict the federal transportation trust fund to just highways. He proposed
kicking Transportation Enhancements and other core programs into the
general fund, where they would have to compete with everything else the
government funds, effectively eliminating the program—even though the
trust fund has cost-effectively funded trails, walking and bicycling for more
than 20 years, and transit for 30 years.
Such a dramatic change would eliminate popular programs that have
been the lifeblood of the rail-trail and active transportation movements.
Repeated attempts to contact AAA and have them disavow their policy stance
were unsuccessful. So in September RTC launched a national petition to
demonstrate to AAA how out of touch and damaging their position would be,
economically and culturally, to trails, walking and bicycling.
The overwhelming response we saw from our supporters was a resounding
testament to the importance of our work to communities in every corner
of the country. And after months of online outreach and engineering,
our campaign culminated on December 13, 2010, when RTC President
Keith Laughlin—flanked by 35 cyclists on an unusually frigid morning in
Heathrow, Fla.—delivered the names of more than 51,000 petition signers
to AAA. It was an inspiring show of collective will and shared purpose—and
a shot across the bow to others who might promote the elimination of these
beloved programs.