Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Rails-To-Trails Conservancy Estimates Rail-Trails Contribute $930 Million A Year To Pennsylvania's Economy

On October 15, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy released findings from “Active Transportation Transforms America,” the nation’s most comprehensive analysis of the quantifiable impact of trails, walking and biking on the places we live. 
The study estimates the rail-trails in Pennsylvania contribute $930 million to the state's economy annually.  There are 186 rail-trails covering 2,097 miles in Pennsylvania.
Nationally, the study estimated rail-trails contribute $34.1 billion a year to the U.S. economy.
“Most of the economic impact rail-trail studies used in this national study were based on spending reports funded by Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, who was out in front of this issue from the start,” said Tom Sexton, Northeast Regional Director of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy.
RTC released its findings during a webinar, where RTC was joined by PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards; Martha Williams, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and Jim Kolb, partner at Summit Strategies, the author of the study. 
The panel addressed issues of transportation reform, provided examples of effective state and local implementation, and explored key report findings that outline the transformative power of connected trail and active transportation networks.  
During the webinar, RTC demonstrated the discrepancies between demand for active transportation infrastructure and investments made. 
The majority of trips taken in this country are within a 20-minute bike ride or less, more than one in four trips are within a 20-minute walk or less, and 11.5 percent of all trips are made by walking and biking. 
Yet, current federal transportation policy only invests less than 2 percent of funds in bicycle and pedestrian projects. 
At the same time, bicyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities are skyrocketing while other vehicle-related fatalities are on the decline. 
RTC’s report and the findings come as Congress takes up debate to reauthorize the nation’s federal transportation bill, a critical juncture that will define federal spending on active transportation for years to come. 
For more information on rail-trails in Pennsylvania, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy/PA webpage.
Information on trails in Pennsylvania is available at the Explore PA Trails website.
[Posted: October 16, 2019]

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