Advocacy and How We Got Here

The Pillars of a Visionary Reauthorization Bill

In order to build a robust, modern transportation system that serves all Americans, federal investment needs to carve out funding designed to create and maintain connected active-transportation networks. RTC’s federal agenda outlines the policy changes necessary to deliver a transportation system that is fundamental to equitable, healthy communities. Federal policymakers have the potential to deliver visionary change by:

1Investing in Active Transportation Connectivity

The Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act (H.R.2991/S.684is a new policy that provides $500 million annually over five years to help communities and regions accelerate their work to build connected active transportation systems through competitive federal grants. Organizations representing interests as far-ranging as biking and walking, health, transportation reform, environment, disability rights, planning and our nation’s local elected officials joined RTC in calling on Congress to support the Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act (H.R.2991/S.684) and take this opportunity to invest in connecting America’s trails, walking and bicycling infrastructure to create an active transportation system for the country.

Read H.R. 2991  Read S. 684   TAKE ACTION

2Growing Transportation Alternatives

The “Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act” (H.R 463/S.614) increases funding and reduces transfers of Transportation Alternatives, the largest federal funding source for trails, walking and biking.

Read H.R. 5231

3Tripling Funding for the Recreational Trails Program

The Recreational Trails Full Funding Act (H.R.1864/Senate bill pending) will triple funding for the Recreational Trails Program, the only federal funding source that supports trail maintenance, to reflect recreational fuel taxes and ensure good repair as trails age.

Read H.R. 5797

The Opportunity for Visionary Change

The pace has quickened on reauthorization of the federal surface transportation bill, and all indications are that the federal government is poised to reauthorize the FAST Act before it expires in September, likely in conjunction with a bipartisan infrastructure package.

The team at RTC has been working with our partners in the trails, walking and biking movement, as well as our champions on Capitol Hill, to define the components of a visionary transportation bill. Our vision will increase funding for trails, walking and biking, while targeting investments in projects that connect people to the places they want to go and serve communities most in need.

This is a generational opportunity to invest America’s transportation dollars in ways that deliver myriad transportation, health, equity, environmental and economic outcomes, especially as COVID-19 has strained local economies and existing trail and active transportation infrastructure. There are more than 40,000 miles of multiuse trails on the ground nationwide, ready to form seamless networks that connect people and places.

Now is the time for Congress to take bold steps to transform America with safe, connected trail and active transportation networks.


Key elements of the Federal Agenda for Active Transportation follow, with an emphasis on strategic investments in programs that prioritize the connectivity of trails, walking and biking, which has the potential to generate an estimated $138 billion per year in economic benefit to the nation:

  • Prioritize investments that link existing trails, bikeways and sidewalks into functional networks that connect people to key destinations and communities to each other, with special attention to the needs of underserved communities. Competitive federal active transportation connectivity grants are essential to enable communities to establish low-stress routes to walk and bike.    
  • Through reauthorization of the FAST Act, double dedicated project funding for trails, walking and biking through Transportation Alternatives and the Recreational Trails Program to ensure resources are available in every city and state to meet growing demand for safe places to walk, bike and move. 
  • Establish an Active Transportation Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). 
  • Pilot strategies to make transportation planning practices equitable and responsive to neighborhood priorities and revive the USDOT initiative to promote equitable outcomes.  
  • Prioritize and incentivize active transportation as a critical strategy in cutting carbon emissions from transportation.  
  • Develop regulations governing the use of electric bicycles on public lands that are consistent across federal agencies and responsive to the needs of local land managers and the public.

Support for the Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act

The Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act (H.R.2991/S.684) provides creates safe, convenient walking and biking routes in our communities while addressing critical challenges to our economy, climate, health and safety.



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