Opportunities to invest in trails
The 2022 legislative session may be short, but there are opportunities to bring trails to the forefront. Here are key actions we’re hearing
- Connect active transportation spines – To ensure that all Washingtonians can get where they need to go, we must invest in active transportation spines and networks. A state transportation package must grow funding for biking and walking; align performance measures with safety, equity, and climate values; and fund multimodal transportation to knit the region together with trails and transit.
- Support equitable access to active transportation & outdoor recreation – Today across Puget Sound, access to trails—like life expectancy—varies widely by zip code and race. 47% of Puget Sound residents have special transportation needs—including older adults, youth, low-income households, and people with disabilities—who are more likely to rely on public transportation, underscoring the importance of equitable access and understanding needs (Governor Inslee’s budget included $400k for study of non-drivers in Washington State).
- Support active transportation & outdoor recreation agency budget requests – Many agencies are requesting vital funds to operate or maintain trails and build new connections. For example, WSDOT has requested $7.2M to fund state bikeways and trail networks that complete and connect regional trails, and $45M in additional funding to support safe routes to school and bicycle and pedestrian safety grants.
Make your voice heard
Want to connect with your elected officials? Find your state legislators and send a message, or join organized events like Washington Bikes Legislative Week of Action (Feb. 1-5) and Environmental Lobby Days (Jan. 25-27). Legislative days can make a big impact—nearly 100 people joined WWRC and WRPA for the Parks & Great Outdoors Legislative Day earlier this month!
Benefits of trails in Washington state
The benefits of trails are clearer than ever. Active transportation creates more jobs per dollar spent than any other type of transportation. Today in Washington state, trails contribute $8.2 billion and 81,000 jobs each year to the state’s economy, about 1.45% of state GDP; physical activity associated with trails results in >$390 million annual health savings; and trails provide $5.9 billion in environmental benefits. Closing gaps in the network has a profound effect: for example, connecting the Tahoma to Tacoma Trail is projected to reduce car travel by 2,781,000 miles!
During the COVID-19 pandemic trail use is up—way up. Nationwide, analysis by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy found trail use increased by 51% in 2021, and that close-to-home access to trails and the outdoors continues to be important for people’s well-being. Yet funding programs have not kept pace with rising demand for trails, and across existing state active transportation and outdoor recreation grant programs, many “ready” trails remain underfunded.
Learn more about developing legislation
Resources from community organizations and members around the region:
- Disability Rights Washington: 2022 Legislative Agenda
- Front and Centered: 2022 Legislative Priorities
- Futurewise: WA Can’t Wait Campaign
- Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust: Legislative Priorities 2022
- Move Redmond: 2022 Legislative Priorities
- Snotrac: 2021-2022 Transportation Funding Values & Principles
- Transportation Choices Coalition: 2022 Priorities
- Washington Bikes: 2022 Priorities
- Washington State Transit Association: 2022 Legislative Update
- Washington Trails Association: Short Legislative Session, Big Goals for the Outdoors
- Washington Recreation & Park Association: 2022 Legislative Priorities