Photo by RTC/Jon Lowenstein

Balanced transportation systems are fundamental to healthy communities. A strong economy and high quality of life depend on safe and easy access for all residents to jobs, schools, transit, shops, services, places of worship, parks and playgrounds, and friends and family. Public health is improved by providing a built environment that facilitates routine physical activity. Investing in networks of infrastructure that enable walking and bicycling—or active transportation—is critical to providing transportation systems that meet everyone’s needs, regardless of whether they drive, and to increase mobility, improve access for people with disabilities, spur economic development and promote healthy practices.

Hudson River Greenway (Photo by RTC/Boyd Loving)The Partnership for Active Transportation is a unique collaboration of organizations working across the fields of transportation, public health, economic development, community leadership, equity and livability. To build healthy places for healthy people, the Partnership calls for the creation of safe and practical routes for people to walk or roll to get where they need to go.

We ask the next president to build on several positive developments taking root across America. The first is the rapid rise in rates of walking and biking, and the commensurate strong demand for safe, convenient and pleasant places to walk and bike. The federal government needs to invest much more in connecting networks of trails, sidewalks, cycle tracks and other facilities that meet today’s needs. A second development is the admirable focus at USDOT under Secretary Foxx on creating ladders of opportunity. Equity must be a core principle when planning transportation systems, considering who shares in opportunities and ensuring that communities have a real voice in defining transportation priorities. A third critical development is an urgent focus on ending the carnage on America’s roads, with special attention to stemming rapidly rising pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. A bold and comprehensive federal strategy is needed, including an ongoing commitment to manage the impacts of automated vehicles.

Rapid growth in active transportation has created challenges that require new approaches and engaged and focused leadership. Consequently, we recommend that the next president begin their administration by picking visionary leaders and creating administrative structures that will ensure active transportation is well managed, including creating an Active Transportation Administration at USDOT.

To prioritize active transportation is to meet the needs and desires of Americans, and to hasten the advent of a better America.