Connecting Communities Nationwide
Imagine What's Possible
At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we believe that trail networks can deliver smart transportation, strong economic growth, healthy people, a flourishing environment and social equity. Our projects of national significance are regional network-building projects—implemented in partnership with local organizations—that have the power to catalyze the development of trail networks nationwide, creating healthier places for healthier people.
The Benefits to Communities
Expanding Transportation Options
More than one-quarter of all trips we make are less than a mile—an easy walking distance—and nearly one-half are within three miles—an easy biking distance.1 Trail networks create the infrastructure that encourage and enable people to walk and bike as part of their daily lives.
Fueling Strong Businesses & Economies
As trail systems grow, they spark new investment in trailside businesses and commercial opportunities along the trail route. In urban areas, this supports trail-oriented development on the neighborhood scale; in rural and suburban communities, this spurs and supports tourism, bringing new dollars into the community.
Promoting Social Equity
Comprehensive trail systems can bridge gaps within and between communities, creating new access to jobs, physical activity and outdoor recreation-offering connected active transportation options to the more than 90 million Americans without a car.2
Protecting the Environment
The environmental benefits of green infrastructure are strongest when open spaces are connected.3 Trail networks contribute to a healthy environment by protecting precious open space while encouraging active modes of transportation that reduce air pollution, traffic congestion and climate change.
Improving Health and Wellness
When people have safe places to walk within 10 minutes of their home, they are one and a half times more likely to meet recommended activity levels than those who don’t.4 Comprehensive trail systems can give people new access to outdoor recreation opportunities.
The Place-Based Projects
A game-changing urban trail network that will link three existing Baltimore City trails to form a 35-mile loop connecting the city’s diverse neighborhoods and unique natural features with the downtown core. When complete, this project—a partnership between RTC and Bikemore—will transform the public realm by opening up bike and pedestrian access to major civic institutions and destinations around the city, and providing equitable, low-stress access to open space, transportation and recreation for people of all ages and abilities. Only 10 additional miles are needed to close critical gaps.
The vision is to develop an ambitious 2,500-mile regional trail network that will connect the San Francisco Bay Area—its trails, people and places—in innovative new ways. Through the development of the regional trail network, the Collaborative—currently comprising more than three dozen organizations, agencies and businesses—will provide safe biking and walking routes for millions of people across nine counties to get to critical destinations, including jobs, parks, shopping areas, educational institutions and cultural and civic sites.
The coalition seeks to create a 400-mile-plus network of multiuse trails that are equitably distributed throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region, linking communities and major destinations, promoting physical activity and spurring economic development and trail tourism. The regional trails network will transform public life by providing healthy, low-stress access to open space and reliable transportation for people of all ages and abilities. RTC is a founding partner in this coalition, which was conceptualized by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.
An innovative, regional urban trail network that is connecting people of all ages to jobs, communities and parks in the nine-county Greater Philadelphia-Camden, New Jersey, region. Led by a coalition of dozens of nonprofit organizations, foundations and agencies, the Circuit Trails will encompass 750 miles of trails on both sides of the Delaware River by the time of the project's completion in 2040, and more than 50 percent of the region’s population—over 3.1 million people—will live within a mile of the trail network.
Comprising more than 100 organizations, and led by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the National Park Service and RTC—the coalition is working to establish the Industrial Heartland as a premier destination offering a 1,400-mile-plus multiuse trail network experience. The trail network, which will stretch across 48 counties in four states—Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York—will stimulate the regional economy through outdoor tourism and small business investment, and create social equity and new health connections for underserved communities across the project footprint.
A blueprint for a 428-mile trail network that will link the rich natural, cultural and historical resources the area is known for—thereby creating a unified regional identity for outdoor tourism and generating a new sense of community pride for all residents of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Sponsored by the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, University of Texas School of Public Health, RTC and 10 communities in Cameron County, the Active Plan will support job creation, tourism spending and economic development across the project footprint and serve as a “catalyst” for healthier lifestyles in one of the most underserved areas of the country.
A 190-mile trail vision to expand transportation options, make biking and walking safer and more equitable, strengthen the regional economy, reduce the area’s carbon footprint, and improve health and wellness across Miami-Dade County. The Miami-Dade Trail Alliance has recently begun to organize to turn vision into reality by serving as a collective voice for the project and its diverse network of trails—with a goal of enriching the quality of life for all people in the region through equitable access to active transportation and outdoor recreation.
A partnership of RTC and the Wisconsin Bike Fed—the Route of the Badger offers a vision of healthy, thriving communities in Southeast Wisconsin centered around a world-class, 500-plus-mile regional trail system that connects people towns and counties and provides endless transformational opportunities for physical activity, tourism, connections to nature, recreation and stronger businesses along the route.
1 Safe Routes to Everywhere: Building Healthy Places for Healthy People Through Active Transportation Networks, Partnership for Active Transportation
2 Active Transportation for America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking, 2008
4 Places to Walk: Convenience and Regular Physical Activity, American Journal of Public Health, 2003