Safe Routes to Everywhere

Building Healthy Places for Healthy People Through Active Transportation Networks

Transportation connects people and places. It provides access to jobs, education, shopping and recreation. More than one-quarter of all trips we make are less than a mile — an easy walking distance — and nearly one-half of all trips are within three miles — an easy biking distance. Yet, we make more than 78 percent of these short trips by car.

by Rails to Trails Conservancy

Active transportation, with seamless connections to public transportation services, is the most neglected piece of our transportation system. Safe pathways for walking, bicycling or using a wheelchair work together with transit to provide access for all people regardless of whether they drive. The vast majority of trips taken by bus or train begin and end with a walk to or from homes, offices and other routine destinations; therefore, sidewalks and safe crossings are very low-cost means to maximize benefits of investments in transit. Active transportation also often replaces short driving trips.

To build healthy communities for healthy people, America needs to invest in safe active transportation routes to everywhere for everyone. Simple walking and biking pathways can provide the safest, healthiest connections to important destinations and are important to the many Americans who are dependent on other modes of travel aside from driving. When trails, sidewalks and on-street routes are linked, and homes are reasonably close to destinations, all people can travel safely through their communities.

The Partnership for Active Transportation calls for re-envisioning our transportation system to ensure it meets our need for healthy places for healthy people. Regular walking or bicycling helps prevent obesity, diabetes, depression and other chronic diseases that reduce our quality of life and are costly to treat. Active transportation also promotes healthy economies by encouraging development and enhancing community vitality. The Partnership’s principles address the importance of ensuring equitable access for all people, prioritizing active transportation networks, diversifying funding support adequate to the need and collaborating in planning.

About the Author


Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people. RTC’s mission, and its value, is magnified in urban areas, where one mile of trail can completely redefine the livability of a community. Where trails are more than just recreational amenities, creating opportunities for active transportation and physical activity—improving our health and wellbeing—as they safely connect us to jobs, schools, businesses, parks, and cultural institutions in our own neighborhoods and beyond.

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