Advancing Trails to Support Multimodal Networks

This info brief provides a fresh look at the current state of practice for trail development, reflecting new research and showing the growing applications of trails in every type of environment and community.

by Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

Trails are valued by communities across the country, providing everything from inspiring experiences in open green spaces to invigorating daily commutes and restorative social connections. Since the early 1990s, America has undergone a historic expansion of all types of trails in every community context. As individual trails have multiplied, they have connected into vast networks crossing local, regional, and state lines. Trail networks have grown to have a significant impact on many aspects of our communities, providing economic, health, transport, and social benefits. Like the development of our nation’s railroads in the early 19th century and the paved road system of the 20th century, trails have evolved into an important nonmotorized, human-powered element of the nation’s 21st-century transportation network.

This info brief provides a fresh look at the current state of practice for trail development, reflecting new research and showing the growing applications of trails in every type of environment and community. It illustrates the overlapping and intertwined benefits of trails; provides high-level guidance and resources on trail-focused partnerships and planning; and demonstrates the adaptability of trails in a rapidly changing world. This brief also acknowledges barriers to equitable trail development and strategies for planning and implementing trails that distribute benefits equitably.

Attached document published June 2022

About the Author


Since its inception in 1999, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center's mission has been to improve the quality of life in communities through the increase of safe walking and bicycling as a viable means of transportation and physical activity. As a national leader in pedestrian and bicycle research and resources, the PBIC develops and shares resources vital to advancing mobility, access, equity, and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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