Photo by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

For communities that have faced systemic disinvestment, targeted funding can help level the playing field and can provide a significant boost to equitable trail development by making strategic investments where there is the greatest need.

Here are just a couple examples of public funding programs that promote equitable investment in walking, biking and trails:

  • California’s Active Transportation Program is a statewide grant program meant to encourage active modes of transportation, including walking and biking. The grant, which consolidates several federal and state programs, prioritizes equity by awarding 85% of funding for active transportation projects in disadvantaged communities. To help these communities “fully share in the benefits of the program,” the ATP also funds the Active Transportation Resource Center, which provides “resources, technical assistance, and training to transportation partners across California to increase opportunity for the success of active transportation projects.” CalTrans engages other partners, including RTC, to hold workshops and trainings on application writing, outreach and active transportation planning in disadvantaged communities to help them fully participate in the ATP.

  • In Massachusetts, the MassTrails Grant Program, which administers federal funding for recreational trails, includes equity as one of the criteria for evaluating proposals. Applicants must demonstrate how their projects will serve minority and low-income populations, as well as other vulnerable populations such as the elderly and people with disabilities.

Additional funding sources are listed in the City Parks Alliance’s Equitable Park Funding Hub. The website features a searchable collection of federal, state and local funding strategies for parks and recreation in underserved communities. It includes links to case studies, reports and other resources.  


Equitable and Inclusive Trails   •  Equitable Practices in Trail Planning •  Leveraging Data to Advance Equitable Planning and Development  •  Promoting Equity in Trail Use and Programming

Topics in this section: