Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is watching closely to see what the appointment of Anthony Foxx to the position of U.S. Secretary of Transportation will mean for our efforts to promote a transportation system that includes better options for biking and walking.
This week, I wrote a letter to the former mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to welcome him to the post and make clear our hopes for the future of federal investment that supports active transportation.
"On behalf of the 150,000 members and supporters of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, I congratulate you on becoming the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. In this new role, you will have the opportunity to expand opportunities for active transportation including trail systems.
While Mayor of Charlotte, you witnessed increasing demand for multi-modal transportation. Americans want more transportation options that are healthier, safer and better connected to their desired destinations.
President Obama's proposed budget for FY 2014 demonstrates support for enabling all American's to travel by bicycle or foot. We commend the President for his commitment and we call for increased federal investment of dedicated funds for active transportation. By providing walking and biking networks that are safe and convenient for all, we advance equitable and affordable transportation. Everyone in a community with a functional walking and biking network benefits in terms of safety, health, clean air, connectivity and economic vibrancy.
Soon, you will be faced with making decisions on the latest round of TIGER grant applications. This program provides important funds for transportation projects of national significance. Past rounds of TIGER grants have spurred the development of quality networks of trails and other great places to bike and walk. We encourage you to continue to focus TIGER on such projects.
Congress has already begun debate on a new authorization bill for rail programs. Soon, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy will publish a report documenting the successes of trails on or directly adjacent to active rail corridors. These transportation routes can be found in rural places, suburban communities and major cities, including the Charlotte Trolley Trail. A rail bill should encourage and facilitate the efficient use of corridors for both rail and trail use where they are compatible.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy encourages innovative local and state strategies to leverage federal dollars and prioritize trails, walking and bicycling in transportation, public health and economic policies and practices. We are working with communities across the country to maximize the investment of MAP-21 funds for biking and walking networks. We look forward to sharing with you the successes of places such as Indianapolis and Minneapolis that have become model communities for biking and walking.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is committed to enhancing the health of America's environment, transportation, economy, neighborhoods and people - ensuring a better future made possible by trails and the connections they inspire. The Department of Transportation is a central player in this effort. Thank you for your support."