Photo by RTC/Barbara Richey

Active transportation—human powered mobility such as walking and bicycling—increases physical activity, provides balanced transportation choices and fosters economically vibrant communities with a high quality of life. The Partnership for Active Transportation—a unique collaboration of organizations working across the fields of transportation, public health, economic development, community leadership, equity and livability—calls on the next presidential administration to create safe and practical routes for people to walk or roll to get where they need to go.


Provide safe routes to everywhere for everyone by building trail and active transportation networks in communities of all sizes and types across America.

Effective policies will:

  • Connect people to important destinations—such as jobs, schools, transit, health care and parks—and opportunities for healthy physical activity.
  • Fuel economic development, attract tourists, reduce health-care costs and aim to eliminate traffic deaths, particularly among pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Concentrate on meeting the needs of people who do not drive, such as many low-income individuals, people living with disabilities, seniors and children.

Recommended Actions

The Partnership for Active Transportation requests that the next presidential administration take the following specific actions to promote the health, safety and economic vitality of communities nationwide.

(Click headers to read full content of each recommended action for the next president.)

Increased investment in active transportation.

Balanced transportation systems are fundamental to healthy communities. The federal government has severely underinvested in active transportation, resulting in limited options to safely and conveniently access destinations via foot, bike or wheelchair. The Transportation Alternatives Program, the nation’s top source of funding for active transportation, should constitute at least 3 percent of all federal surface transportation funding. Further, competitive multi-modal programs that have supported balanced, cost-effective transportation options should be prioritized. In particular, the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program should be permanently authorized in the surface transportation program and funded by the Highway Trust Fund, with its budget doubled to $1 billion to accommodate the volume of worthy applicants.

Focus on active transportation networks.

All transportation modes work best when knitted together into complete systems. Filling strategic gaps in existing walking and bicycling networks is the best way to minimize cost and maximize impact. We need to concentrate a portion of active transportation resources on timely completion of regional active transportation systems and use complementary policy tools, such as Complete Streets, to ensure efficient use of resources.

The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) reforms in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act should be implemented to help serve this need, and the administration should prioritize creation of a grant program to fund active transportation networks whenever transportation infrastructure is debated in Congress. Further, regional systems should eventually be knitted together into a national network, including access to public lands.

Improve transportation planning.

Better planning is where a more balanced system begins. The planning process should engage all potentially affected communities and genuinely reflect community priorities. Special attention should be focused on groups such as communities of color and low-income neighborhoods that have disproportionately borne the negative impacts of past transportation decisions.

The transportation system also should accommodate people of all ages and abilities, considering not only street design, but also opportunities to achieve separation of walking and biking from auto traffic, including multi-use trails. Public health, land use, safety, connectivity and access for non-drivers are among key considerations that should be elevated in transportation planning. Anticipating transformative trends, such as the potential for sharing automated vehicles to free up valuable street space, should be standard practice among planners.

Prioritize safety.

With more than 35,000 traffic deaths in 2015, and pedestrian and bicycle fatalities rising most steeply, it is critical that America invest in strategies to end this tragic and unnecessary loss of life. Providing safe active transportation routes via streets, sidewalks and trails is fundamental to this goal.

Vision Zero is rapidly gaining traction in cities committed to identifying and eliminating the causes of deaths and serious injuries on their roadways. The next president should embrace this principle and charge the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) secretary, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) with developing and implementing a comprehensive federal Vision Zero strategy that incentivizes prioritizing safety at all levels.

Part of the strategy should be a plan to ensure that fatalities and serious injuries to all road users, particularly pedestrians and bicyclists, will be systematically reduced and eliminated as autonomous vehicle technologies are deployed. This should encompass both vehicle design and corresponding changes in community infrastructure. Initial guidance regarding automated vehicles issued by NHTSA in September 2016 commits the government to a dynamic ongoing process of managing the public safety impact of these vehicles. The next administration must implement this promise with robust public engagement, appropriate regulation and innovative nimble approaches to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies.

Make active transportation a priority across the executive branch.

Create an Active Transportation Administration at USDOT to ensure focused, efficient and effective management of all matters relating to these modes of travel. These good government purposes, as declared by Congress (see 5 USC 901), justify reorganization under 5 USC 903. In addition to providing focused implementation of key principles—the critical importance of connected networks, social equity and safety—the Active Transportation Administrator should set and achieve ambitious goals for increasing walking and biking.

Create a new position, Active Transportation Czar, to coordinate decisions and activities relating to active transportation across federal agencies and the White House. The position, which will be housed in the White House, will maintain focus and priority on active transportation for the administration and make recommendations regarding changes in administrative structures and funding to best manage active transportation opportunities.

Establish an active transportation office or point person for all relevant federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Interior.

Restore and grow the offices in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that support active transportation, namely:

  • Build funding for the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) Branch of the Chronic Disease Division. The DNPAO budget should increase from $49.9 million to $120 million using new funding to create safe and healthy environments for physical activity; support cross-sector coalitions; and support national communication and leadership development around physical activity.
  • Reinstate funding for the Built Environment and Health Initiative. The initiative budget should be immediately restored to $2.25 million. This funding will support communities in using health information to make efficient, locally relevant decisions about transportation and land-use projects. Further, the new administration should develop a strategy to grow the initiative budget over four years.

Protect the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund and propose annual budgets that would fund new investments in evidence-based prevention and public-health activities, including activities that help foster healthier communities by promoting active transportation and physical activity.

Collect data.

USDOT and CDC should collect data and conduct research on the mobility, health and economic benefits of active transportation. USDOT should collect project-level data for the Transportation Alternatives Program. USDOT should also set clear goals around reducing traffic deaths and serious injuries, and measure and share progress toward those goals. Pedestrian and bicycle deaths require special attention because they are substantial and growing parts of the overall problem, and low-income individuals and people of color have disproportionately suffered.

First 100 Days

The following steps should be part of the agenda for the president’s first 100 days in office:

    1. Choose leaders who will build on the admirable work that USDOT has done to begin to increase the priority given to active transportation and equity. Secretary Foxx has been a visionary and effective leader who has brought much-needed focus to critical goals, including reducing fatalities and injuries among pedestrians and bicyclists, and building ladders of opportunity connecting people to jobs, education and critical services. We ask that a leader with similar vision and qualities be chosen to head USDOT and that appointees to head other key posts—including FHWA Administrator, NHSTA Administrator and the Under Secretary for Policy—also share these values.
    2. Create a new position of Active Transportation Administrator reporting directly to the USDOT secretary, and consolidate active transportation functions within it. This position will oversee all active transportation functions at USDOT and report directly to the secretary of transportation. Note, this action is subject to 60-day Congressional review (5 USC 903).
    3. Appoint a White House Active Transportation Czar to coordinate across the executive branch and ensure focused management of active transportation issues within the White House.

Supporting Organizations

These organizations are calling on the next presidential administration to make active transportation a priority.

Partnership for Active Transportation Coalition Members

Rails-to-Trails ConservancyLOCUS | Smart Growth America APHA America Walks
National League of CitiesNational Association of County & City Health OfficialsMain Street America American Society of Landscape Architects American College of Sports MedicineTrust for America's HealthProject for Public SpacesThe Trust for Public LandVision Zero NetworkNational Complete Streets Coalition

Other National Organizations

Health by DesignAssociation of Pedestrian and Bicycle ProfessionalsNational Recreation and Park AssociationAmerican Association on Health & DisabilityPEDSAdvanced Sports EnterprisesAmerican Trails

State and Regional Organizations

New Jersey Recreation & Park AssociationWalk 2 ConnectCalifornia WalksBike-Walk Alliance of NHOregon ArchitecturePennsylvania Recreation and Park SocietyTri-State Transportation CampaignWABALeague of Michigan BicyclistsIowa Natural Heritage FoundationBicycle Coalition of MaineEat Smart Move MorePedal FreeBike TexasCoalition of Arizona BicyclistsWisconsin Bike FedKentucky Main StreetFeet FirstWest Virginia Rails-to-Trails CouncilPECLakeshore

Local Organizations

West Michigan Trails and GreenwaysBike Miami ValleyLivable StreetsNatural Resources Services (RCAA)Marin CountySiskiyou VeloWalk BostonDetroit Greenways CoalitionTerra FirmaCity of SandpointNapa Valley Vine TrailFriends of the Pend d'Oreille Bay TrailUptown Shelby AssociationB&O Trail AssociationSonoma Bicycle CoalitionBrooktrails TownshipWalk DenverHot Prings Friends of the ParksBike DenverMile High ConnectsStreet TrustMon River Trails ConservancyCirculate San DiegoAlexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee