A lot has changed since RTC opened for business 30 years ago. No change has been more profound, however, than the burgeoning growth in demand for safe places to walk and bike. 

This trend began about 15 years ago when people became increasingly interested in healthier, more active lifestyles. Concerns had been growing that America’s car-dependent lifestyles are contributing to the obesity epidemic, making it difficult for people to build physical activity into their daily lives. 

A recent report found that nearly 1 million more people reported walking or biking to work in 2013 compared to 2005. Paralleling that trend, there has been a consistent decline in vehicle miles traveled. Corresponding to these changes, real estate trends show that people are placing higher premiums on urban living versus auto-dependent suburban lifestyles. 

As people are placing higher value on safe places to walk and bike, trails increasingly are considered an essential element for a healthy community and improved quality of life. This cultural shift means that trails and interconnected networks have become a competitive economic advantage for communities across the nation. Trails and trail networks not only make a state’s residents healthier and fitter but can also draw high-quality employers, economic growth and tourism.

In response, RTC is using strong, on-the-ground support to create policies that fund and prioritize trail building and to ensure trail networks are widely understood to be essential community assets. RTC will continue to advocate for the adoption of national, state and local policies and funding streams that encourage the creation of safe places to walk and bike and make America more walkable and bikeable through regional trail systems.