The federal Safe Streets and Roads for All program announced grantees last week. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the nation’s largest trails and active transportation advocacy organization— says this reinforces a growing trend nationwide. Investing in connected walking and biking infrastructure, separated from vehicle traffic, is a critical strategy for stemming the tragic trend of fatalities and serious injuries among pedestrians and bicyclists. This social crisis is quickly worsening and has disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities nationwide.
Atlanta, Georgia, received $30 million for protected bicycle and pedestrian facilities that connect the Southside of Atlanta and the Southside BeltLine trail to Atlanta’s downtown—addressing the void in active transportation infrastructure connecting north and south through the city and providing the necessary facilities to encourage more people to safely walk and bike instead of drive. In Maryland, $7.5 million will be invested in improved safety of trail crossings alongside bicycle and pedestrian education programs, addressing barriers to trail use that exist in this region, especially in underserved neighborhoods reached by the Capital Trails Network, one of RTC’s TrailNation projects.
The program, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides $5 billion over five years for comprehensive safety action plans and for planning, design and construction of projects to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries. This first round of funding totaled $800 million in planning and construction grants.
“These awards are encouraging as they signal a deeper understanding that how we invest in walking and biking infrastructure makes a significant difference for the safety of our communities and the health of our planet,” said Mills. “While these competitive multimodal grant programs have proven to be an important funding source for trail and active transportation networks, they aren’t enough if communities can’t plan around these resources for the long-term. This is why it’s essential that Congress fully fund the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program and sustain and grow it over time to provide the dedicated funding necessary to bring safe, connected active transportation infrastructure to every neighborhood.”
The Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program (ATIIP) is a new program that provides dedicated funding for the planning and construction of safe and connected active-transportation networks and long-distance spine trails. The program was authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and received its first appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2023 federal funding bill. RTC, Congressional champions, and partners across the country are continuing to advocate for full program funding in the FY 2024 federal budget. Learn more about the demand for trails, walking and biking infrastructure and available federal funding at railstotrails.org/policy/funding.