Trails under attack, organization needs our help, today

Rails to Trails, the nonprofit charged with creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines is reminding us that Thursday, February 2 is the day congress begins work on a bill that is bad news for trails, walking and bicycling efforts.

“We anticipated some of the terrible provisions; others were simply shocking in scope and shortsightedness,” says Rails to Trails (RTC) in a statement urging us to contact our representatives now, using an online form, and ask that they speak to colleagues on the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee.

“We need those T&I members, in turn, to tell Reps. Petri and Johnson of their support for the amendment. It sounds complicated, but there’s no time to waste-we absolutely need all the support we can rally,” says Rails to Trails.

Rails to Trails say the bill would:

  • Eliminate dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program-the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. (Terrible news, but we expected it.)
  • Remove the rail-trail category from TE eligibility.
  • Completely eliminate funding for the Safe Routes to School program.
  • Eliminate funding for bicycle and pedestrian coordinators at state DOTs.

In November, the RTC went to congress as the U.S. Senate began work on the multi-year surface transportation bill. The RTC wanted a focus that provides balanced transportation choices for Americans. Critical to such balance is dedicated investment in active transportation to ensure that walking and bicycling, the most cost-effective, affordable and healthy types of transportation, can continue to grow in communities across the country.

“For a tiny sliver of transportation funds-less than 2 percent– these programs have provided affordable, healthy transportation options, generated jobs and economic development, and preserved historic and environmental assets that provide the quality of life that Americans want and deserve,” said Kevin Mills, vice president of program at RTC.

A non-profit organization, based in Washington D.C., Rails-To-Trails invites us to get involved in a number of ways.

  • A donation will help build, protect and enhance the rail-trail movement.
  • Register to be a member and get periodic e-mail updates and alerts on important legislative issues and RTC-related news. This is an ideal opportunity to become directly involved in RTC’s mission of providing communities with the multi-faceted benefits rail-trails provide.
  • They also put out a monthly newsletter we can sign up for and offer cycling gear, athletic apparel, gifts and more on their website.

Rails-to-Trails knows the value of today’s networking too and invites us to follow them on Twitter (@railstotrails) and Facebook.

Flickr photo by ebis50