Speaking at the 2012 National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD) yesterday urged transportation planners and advocates to promote bicycling and walking as a means of improving conditions and access in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
"I want you reaching out into communities like mine, where there are majorities of people of color, where we ride our bicycles, too, and we want clear air and water and all modes of transportation so we can go to and from work," said Edwards, who lives in Fort Washington, Md. "We have work to do as advocates so we can make sure we have the most robust movement for all us, for all communities."
Edwards' comments provide strong testimony to the importance of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) Urban Pathways Initiative (UPI), which for the past three years has helped create trails and encouraged biking and walking programs in urban communities across the country, including Washington, D.C., Camden, N.J., Compton, Calif., New Orleans, La., Springfield, Mass., and Cleveland, Ohio.
Supported by The Kresge Foundation, our UPI work specifically focuses on empowering under-served communities--typically low-income neighborhoods with poor transportation networks, a scarcity of public green space, and limited access to schools and employment centers.
"Resident of these neighborhoods confront the problems of obesity, congestion and scarcity of open space on a daily basis," says Kelly Pack, RTC's director of trail development. "Having a trail nearby, or good sidewalks and bike lanes, has an enormous impact. It improves employment opportunities, gives people an inexpensive and healthy way to get around--it reenergizes sections of these cities that have, in many ways, been isolated and ignored."
Learn more about our UPI work, including a new video about trail safety and downloadable issue summaries.