point of view
The magazine of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a
nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a nationwide
network of trails from former rail lines and connecting
corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Charles N. Marshall, chair; Richard W. Angle Jr.;
Mary Bandura; Kathy Blaha; Robert M. Campbell, Jr.;
Matthew Cohen; Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr; David Ingemie; M.
Katherine Kraft; Gail M. Lipstein; Krishna Murthy;
John Rathbone; Guy O. Williams
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was incorporated in 1985 as a
nonprofit charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code and is a publicly supported organization
as defined in Sections 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) and 509(a)(1). A copy
of the current financial statement, or annual report, and state
registration filed by RTC may be obtained by contacting RTC
at the address listed below. Donations to RTC are tax-deductible.
Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037-1213
Field and Regional offices:
Canal Winchester, OH
Camp Hill, PA
San Francisco, CA
Rails to Trails
is a benefit of membership in Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy. Regular membership is $18 a year, $5 of which
supports the magazine. In addition to the magazine, members
receive discounts on RTC gifts and publications.
Rails to Trails
is published four times a year—three in print, one digital—
by RTC, a nonprofit charitable organization. Copyright 2013
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. ISSN 1523-4126. Printed in U.S.A.
Send address changes to
Rails to Trails
Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20037-1213.
The actions of the U.S. Congress in the last six months have been enough to make
a sane person tear his hair out. While the popularity of trails, walking and bicycling
has never been greater, this summer Congress passed a transportation bill that cut
funding for walking and biking programs by 30 percent—with deeper cuts possible,
depending on how the bill is implemented.
Let me make one thing very clear: These cuts weren’t imposed to reduce the fed-
eral deficit. Rather, they were intended to increase the 80 percent share of federal
transportation spending devoted to highways by slashing the tiny 1.5 percent that
supports trails, walking and bicycling.
These cuts in “active transportation” are a perfect example of government being
penny-wise and pound-foolish. These relatively small investments in making our
communities more walkable, more bikeable and more livable produce significant
economic returns by reducing traffic congestion, saving gasoline, avoiding health
care costs associated with obesity and improving quality of life.
Why does Congress insist on cutting these popular and cost-effective programs?
The simple truth is that trail and bicycle advocates can’t compete with the well-fund-
ed highway lobby for the ear of lawmakers. We don’t have political action commit-
tees that can contribute millions of dollars
to congressional campaigns.
So what do we do? Giving up is not an
option. The promise of active transportation
for creating healthier places for healthier
people is too great to abandon.
The answer is that we must be smart and
strategic about deploying another form of
political influence. We have to develop compelling and unassailable arguments in
support of active transportation that are championed by a coalition too broad and
too deep for elected officials to ignore.
To build this political clout, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has been the driving
force behind an exciting new coalition: the Partnership for Active Transportation.
This coalition is expanding our movement beyond trail, walking and bicycling
advocates by enlisting organizations at the national, state and local levels dedicated
to furthering the economic health of places and the public health of people through
investments in active transportation.
We just launched the partnership this past September, and already more than 100
Trails, walking and bicycling are essential ingredients for an active, healthy and pros-
perous America. And as the coalition grows, so does the strength and breadth of our
message—reaching from small towns and counties up through the highest levels of
Keith Laughlin, President