Creating a Cultural Shift
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath | Photo by Jason Cohn
RTC has known the potential impact that connected trails and active transportation infrastructure can deliver to America for decades. In 2005, we worked with four communities around the country and the Federal Highway Administration to implement the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project—an initiative designed to demonstrate how investing in trail networks can encourage people to choose walking, biking and trails as transportation. After the investments, there was nearly a 50% increase in the number of bicycle trips and almost a quarter increase in walking across the four communities, as well as 85 million miles of driving averted.
Trail Network Examples
What we learned solidified our perspective that connecting trails to each other, and to other walking and biking structures, like protected bike lanes and sidewalks, could change how people get around in their neighborhoods and beyond. We took that knowledge and moved the dial even further when we developed our TrailNation initiative 10 years ago—demonstrating what’s possible when trail networks are central to community design and what it takes to make this infrastructure essential across America.
RTC’s ten model trail networks range from 35 miles to 3,700 miles connecting diverse people and places with safe walking, biking and trails across city, county and state lines.
- Baltimore Greenway Trails Network: MD
- Bay Area Trails Collaborative: CA
- Capital Trails Network: MD, VA, DC
- Caracara Trails: TX
- Circuit Trails: PA, NJ
- Great American Rail-Trail: DC, MD, PA, WV, OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, WY, MT, ID, WA
- Industrial Heartlands Trails: NY, OH, PA, WV
- New England Rail Trail Network: CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT
- Route of the Badger: WI
- The Miami LOOP: FL
TrailNation Summit: Sharing Innovative Strategies
In 2018, RTC convened trail leaders for the TrailNation Summit to explore innovative strategies and opportunities to develop trail networks across the country. The excitement among trail advocates, professionals and leaders captured in these sessions has multiplied as demand for trails has surged and a new influx of federal funding is now available for communities to harness.
Accelerating Trail Network Development Nationwide
This momentum is the impetus for the new national peer learning community, TrailNation Collaborative*. The collaborative’s learning laboratories will provide proven tools and methods that will help trail advocates, professionals and leaders maximize the opportunities presented in this unique and exciting moment.
Through TrailNation, we've learned so much about what it takes to bring trail networks to life, and we’ve established powerful coalitions that demonstrate the impact of collaboration in advancing significant infrastructure projects. We want to put that knowledge, those partnerships and all our shared experiences to work. Our new TrailNation Collaborative, will help connect trails more quickly and unlock the transformative power of trail networks for the entire country.