Create Safe Places to Walk and Bike During COVID-19

HOW YOU CAN HELP  CITY EXAMPLES  

Open Streets University of Minnesota | Photo courtesy Fibonacci Blue | CC BY 2.0

It’s Time for a Trail in Every Neighborhood

Americans are hunkering down in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19—at least 261 million Americans are on orders to shelter-in-place or stay-at-home. Under these orders, much of the local guidance includes outdoor exercise as essential, and many public health experts are reinforcing the importance of being physically active. It’s vital to our wellness and boosting our immunity, as long as we maintain a safe social distance of at least 6 feet between people.

Nationwide, trail use is up by nearly 200%. Surging demand for trails and outdoor places is making it increasingly difficult for people to keep 6 feet of space between each other, forcing trail managers and local officials to take fast action to ensure social distancing guidelines are met including closing some trails and parks.

It’s painstakingly clear that every American needs safe immediate access to the outdoors—trails in every neighborhood, right now. Our country’s local elected officials have the power to make this happen.

How You Can Help


1Sign our petition.

Sign our petition calling on the nation’s mayors, county officials and local elected leaders to take immediate action, closing select streets to create safe places for walking and biking for all Americans during the COVID-19 public health crisis—essentially providing a trail in every neighborhood in America.

SIGN PETITION

2Share our petition with friends and family.

We need all the help we can get to secure a safe trail in every neighborhood in America.

3Advocate to your local elected official.

If you want more space to safely walk and bike in your neighborhood, local decision makers need to hear directly from you and your neighbors. Tell them about a street that you think should become a trail during this time because it meets demand, creates an important transportation route or serves a neighborhood with safe access to outdoor space.

ADVOCACY TOOLS

4Propose streets for walking and biking.

Is there a street in your neighborhood that you think should be closed to vehicle traffic to create more space for you and your neighbors to be outside and active at a safe social distance? Use our survey to let us know.

PROPOSE A STREET

But surging demand for trails and outdoor places is making it increasingly difficult for people to keep 6 feet of space between each other. An analysis of 31 trail counters for the week of March 16–22 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy found a nationwide trail usage increase of nearly 200% from that same week in 2019.

Trail managers are taking fast action to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among their constituents while encouraging careful and conscientious trail use. To ensure that people are adhering to social distancing and being safe in the outdoors, some trails and parks are closing, while others are limiting their facilities and services.

It’s painstakingly clear that every American needs safe immediate access to the outdoors—trails in every neighborhood, right now. Our country’s local elected officials have the power to make this happen.

Many communities don’t have outdoor facilities equipped to handle the surge in use, especially as trails and parks close and limit access. For example, typical sidewalks, especially those in denser communities, are not wide enough to allow for 6 feet of social distancing.

As a result of fewer people traveling to work and everyday errands, car traffic has significantly decreased in many towns and cities. Local elected officials can now strategically close streets to cars and dedicate them to walking and biking, giving people enough space to be active outside while practicing appropriate social distancing.

The best street closures will be those that create connected walking and biking routes to essential businesses, like grocery stores and banks, and those that extend developed trails, creating more space for recreation and transportation and closing gaps between places. Street closures will be identified by local elected officials and residents, providing for physical activity and active transportation while protecting important transportation routes for essential workers, emergency crews, and residential traffic among other local needs.


Where Streets Are Opening Up for Walking & Biking During COVID-19


Beach Drive in NW Washington, DC | Photo by Anthony Le
Beach Drive in NW Washington, DC | Photo by Anthony Le

Thousands have spoken out in support of creating more safe places to walk, bike and be active by closing select streets to vehicle traffic during COVID-19. Cities, towns and counties are taking note. Here is a list of places where streets have been opened up to increase space for people to safely be active outdoors while maintaining 6 feet of distance.*

VIEW INTERACTIVE MAP

Updated June 8, 2020

*As part of the campaign to encourage local officials nationwide to create safe places for people to be active during the COVID-19 pandemic, RTC is tracking cities that have repurposed streets for walking and biking at a safe social distance. Much of this research was aided by the analysis and crowd-sourcing of international city interventions that was led by Tabitha Combs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and COVID19 Livable Streets Response Strategies by Mike Lydon.

Propose Streets for Walking and Biking graphic

Propose Streets for Walking And Biking

Is there a street in your neighborhood that you think should be closed to vehicle traffic to create more space for you and your neighbors to be outside and active at a safe social distance? Let us know where so we can show local officials how many places people need more access to the outdoors right now.

PROPOSE A STREET


Check Trail Status


TrailLink is a free app in Apple App Store and Google Play
Download the free TrailLink app on iPhone or Android.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy reversed logo

TrailLink is a free trail-finder resource with information on more than 37,000 miles of trails nationwide. The website and mobile app are a service provided by RTC that includes trail maps, as well as walking and biking directions to local trails, contact information for local trail managers, and status updates about trail facilities. RTC recommends that all trail users check the local guidance on outdoor activities and with local trail organizations to confirm status of facilities prior to visiting.

GET LOCAL TRAIL INFO

Related:

Closing Streets to Create Space for Walking and Biking (03/27/20)

Using Trails and Outdoor Spaces Safely in the Wake of COVID-19 (03/24/20)


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy logo

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy urges everyone to be as safe as possible when out on the trails in their communities, and to follow CDC guidelines and state/local guidance and laws before visiting your local trail. Read the insights and information that RTC is compiling to help you stay active and to promote wellness during this time.

SEE COVID-19 RESOURCES