The current crisis in funding for trails and other bicycle-pedestrian programs has created another big partnership problem. Why is one trails program funded but Enhancements are not?
At American Trails our goal is to build common ground among a wide array of interests, even those who don’t have much to do with trails. Why? Because we believe we are all part of an important movement to create healthier communities, to improve accessibility, to reduce dependence on cars, to promote freedom as well as safety for children, and to conserve public lands and linear parks.
The new House transportation bill specifically attacks programs for bikeways, walking, state bike programs, rail trails, and safe routes to school. The reason the Recreational Trails Program seems to be spared (this week, anyway), is probably because it is tied to a specific aspect of the federal fuel tax: gas burned by OHVs, snowmobiles, hunters, and others driving off-highway on our public lands.
However, an important legacy of the Recreational Trails Program is that it brings both motorized and nonmotorized trails people together. It’s the recreational vehicles that fund the RTP, but most of that money is going to nonmotorized trails. It took the whole spectrum of trail enthusiasts to make the program politically viable. In the same way, we believe the long-term success of the other vital funding programs will be ensured only by maintaining the partnership among many diverse interests.
So we urge you to take the long view, to recognize that there is more strength in greater numbers. Please count yourself as part of the movement for a healthier planet. That’s why American Trails is supporting Safe Routes to School as well as Wilderness hiking; active transportation as well as rail trails; and bridges to public transit as well as preserving access to our public lands. Read more about supporting trails and bicycle/pedestrian programs…
— Stuart Macdonald, American Trails website and magazine editor