Groups Call on Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro to Prioritize Investment in State’s Active Transportation Infrastructure
Authored By: Circuit Trails Coalition | February 23, 2023
More than 20 national, state and regional organizations, including members of the Circuit Trails Coalition, came together to call upon Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro to take concrete actions to accelerate active transportation in the Commonwealth.
The letter addressed to the governor cites that trail and active transportation networks are “essential infrastructure for equitably addressing the most pressing issues facing Pennsylvania—economic development, climate resiliency, mobility and bicyclist and pedestrian safety.” According to the organizations leading the effort, the pace of active transportation infrastructure development in Pennsylvania is slow and not prioritized by any state agency, regardless of significant consequences for pedestrians and bicyclists who are disproportionately killed and severely injured in traffic crashes each year.
“There are significant efforts being made at the local and regional levels to build trails and on-road facilities to make it safe for anyone to bike or walk where they need to go—but we need Gov. Shapiro to play a leadership role in scaling up his agencies’ active transportation policies and programs to meet the needs and demands throughout Pennsylvania,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition.
The Circuit Trails is a developing 800-mile regional network of multi-use trails in the Greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey region, which currently encompasses 370 miles of completed trails. There are only 90 miles that need funded for the Circuit Trails Coalition to reach its short-term goal of completing 500 miles by 2025. Sustained support and investment from the state are imperative to accomplish that goal—and to complete the Circuit Trails, which creates safe and welcoming outdoor spaces to meet the growing state-wide trail demand.
“Pennsylvania is home to some of the most breathtaking and critically needed trail networks in the nation including the Circuit Trails, the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition, and even serving as a vital source of connection along the widely anticipated nationwide Great American Rail-Trail,” said Andrew Dupuy, Director of State-Level Policy at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC). “Pennsylvania is fostering trail networks in a way that sets it apart nationwide—almost entirely because of the hard work and commitment of organizations working on the ground. The Shapiro administration can take very specific actions that would advance this work and its impact much more quickly.”
To accelerate much-needed trail and active transportation networks, advocates are urging Gov. Shapiro to:
– Issue an executive order articulating how Pennsylvania’s active transportation networks advance the governor’s vision for infrastructure and call for the prioritization of active transportation networks as part of the state’s infrastructure planning.
– Commit to a dedicated funding program and a new agency bureau for planning, building and maintaining active transportation networks.
– Build on past and ongoing efforts to enhance inter-agency cooperation on active transportation, like the current Safe Routes to Parks State Accelerator Program, by creating an inter-agency plus stakeholder task force, that includes the Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation; Health; Community and Economic Development; Conservation and Natural Resources; Environmental Protection; and Aging that would:
- Develop an Active Transportation Network Implementation Plan (the Plan) by December 2023 that details how state programs and budgets will be structured, coordinated and integrated to both implement the 2019 Active Transportation Plan and to advance the governor’s vision for Pennsylvania’s active transportation networks.
- Recommend by December 2023 new legislation, funding sources, reorganized and new agency structures and policies to achieve the Plan.
- Report to the governor annually on progress being made by state agencies on the Plan such as the number and scope of capital projects funded, miles of active transportation infrastructure constructed and the number of people served and their counties.
Members of the Circuit Trails Coalition, RTC, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and other national, state and regional organizations are calling on individuals to sign on in support of this petition and for other organizations to fill out this form if they want to endorse the letter. The full letter to Gov. Shapiro is available here.