As American life is altered significantly in response to COVID-19, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is providing resources and advocacy tools to connect people with outdoor space where they can be active and well during this time. We are sharing content and data that provides insights on safely accessing trails and the outdoors now, as well as information and tools to support trail managers in keeping communities safe, and perspectives on the long-term impacts of the illness on the trails movement and the communities we all serve. We are leading national efforts to call on local officials to repurpose streets to create more space for people to be active at a safe social distance, and we are organizing the trails and active transportation movement in response to federal stimulus opportunities. While we are working hard to maintain up-to-date content, the CDC’s website, coronavirus.gov, as well as local and state public health agencies are the best resources for current public health guidance and local orders and regulations.
Nationwide, people are seeking outdoor space where they can be active at a safe social distance. Trail use is surging, while many parks and other outdoor facilities are closed. At the same time, most walking and biking facilities are not wide enough to allow for 6 feet of distance between people. This unprecedented demand for places to walk and bike underscores the value that trails have always delivered to communities—in the form of health and wellness, economic opportunity and resilience. RTC is organizing people from across the country to advocate for more open space to walk and bike locally and for investment in this vital infrastructure at the federal level.
Americans are hunkering down in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. As a result of fewer people traveling to work and everyday errands, car traffic has significantly decreased in many towns and cities. Local officials can now strategically repurpose streets to create more space for walking and biking, giving people enough space to be active outside while practicing appropriate social distancing—thousands have already called for this change and dozens of cities have already taken action nationwide.
Sign our petition calling on the nation’s mayors, county officials and local elected leaders to take immediate action, closing select streets to create safe places for walking and biking for all Americans during the COVID-19 public health crisis—essentially providing a trail in every neighborhood in America.
Local officials and elected leaders have shared how important it is to hear from their constituents about solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are interested in creating more safe space to walk, bike and be active in your neighborhood, RTC has created advocacy tools with tips and resources to support local resident advocacy as well as planning efforts led by local officials and planners.
RTC’s COVID-19 content library includes articles about appropriate trail use, physical activity and wellness, and trail building and advocacy during this time. Articles are available to cite or reprint with credit to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Please contact Patricia Brooks at email@example.com with inquiries, interview requests and ideas for future content.
TrailLink is a free trail-finder resource with information on more than 37,000 miles of trails nationwide. The website and mobile app are a service provided by RTC that includes trail maps, as well as walking and biking directions to local trails, contact information for local trail managers, and status updates about trail facilities. RTC recommends that all trail users check the local guidance on outdoor activities and with local trail organizations to confirm status of facilities prior to visiting.
The Role of Trails, Walking and Biking in COVID-19 Management
July 8, 2020 | 01:00 PM - 02:00 PM EDT
Ongoing management of the pandemic will continue to impact our daily lives, including the ways we work, travel and socialize—and it will continue to elevate the inequities in access to safe spaces for walking, biking and outdoor activity.
As we contemplate the move into the management phase and the recovery process, how can trails, walking and biking serve as fundamental assets in building a healthy, safe and equitable post-pandemic future?
As the nation works to manage the spread of COVID-19, having access to trails and safe spaces for walking and biking has been vital to people’s health, safety and wellbeing. Nationwide, trail use spiked to rates 200% higher than last year, bike counts on trails jumped to more than 350% higher than last year, and people are reporting that some trails that are busier at every hour of the day than normal.
In many places, trails were one of the only spaces available for walking and biking while separated from vehicle traffic. In areas where trails haven’t been available, some have advocated to repurpose streets for walking and biking to find ways to safely be active outside
Taking Care of Our Trails During the Pandemic and Beyond webinar
June 3, 2020
Join outdoors, park and trail professionals as they discuss the challenges being faced, creative solutions being developed and the role we all can play in being safe and responsible trail users. Whether a fellow trail professional or an avid trail user this discussion will be a great opportunity to learn and understand what it is taking to keep America's trails safe and open in this ever-evolving landscape.
Creating Connectivity: The Power of Trails
May 18, 2020
Trails link communities, serve as transportation corridors, provide accessible recreation opportunities, and generate health and economic benefits. During the current COVID-19 crisis, trail usage has soared, amplifying the need for this critical amenity. Liz Thorstensen, Vice President of Trail Development at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), and Richard Edwards, Trail Solutions Director of Construction & Operations at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), will discuss how trail systems have adapted to serve as safe spaces in response to COVID-19, and provide insight into what the future holds for trail usage. They will share best practices in trail planning and development for both hard surface and natural surface trails, and detail the elements that create a successful, world-class trail network, including tools for equitable trail planning and the importance of community activation and programming.
The Role of Trails in Economic Recovery Webinar
April 30, 2020
This webinar provided an overview of how economic stimulus plans and reauthorization of the federal transportation law could advance trails and active transportation, and how you can help.
Closing Streets to Create Space for Walking and Biking During COVID-19
April 2, 2020
Many cities already practice "open streets" and "car-free streets" on major thoroughfares as standard practice on weekends, but with the unprecedented changes we’re facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, converting more streets to car-free zones seven days per week could profoundly change the quality of life for millions of Americans. Join Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to hear from advocates and city leaders who have acted quickly to make open-streets available in their cities on a daily basis.
Trail Use and Management During the COVID 19 Pandemic
Mach. 26, 2020
As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, we’re seeing how important trails and other active transportation infrastructure are in creating strong, healthy, resilient communities. In the last few weeks, we seen unprecedented numbers of people turning to trails and walking and biking for physical activity, respite and transportation. As a result, trail managers are facing unprecedented challenges to respond to the extreme increase in demand, while simultaneously striving to balance public health and safety in an era of social distancing. Watch our rapid-response webinar to hear from trail leaders in COVID-19 hotspots who are facing these challenges in real time.
RTC is conducting weekly analyses of national trail usage based on data gathered from RTC’s 31 trail counters distributed across the country.
RTC is making available public service announcements to encourage safe social distancing and trail etiquette during COVID-19 for use by media outlets, blogs and partners. Public service announcements can be reproduced at no cost, and should be attributed to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Please contact Patricia Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries and requests for different content and format types.
Share the Trail Video Series
Remember, every amazing trail experience begins with you! Watch our award-winning video series to learn the six Golden Rules of trail use—you can help make every trip safe and fun for everyone.
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