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Rally Held for Circuit Trails on Trails Day

From a press release

new report released by the Circuit Trails Coalition calls on local decision-makers to prioritize connecting the region’s trail network. And also recognizing the critical role it serves in equitably addressing the most pressing issues communities face, from economic development to climate resiliency, mobility, and bicyclist and pedestrian safety.

This call to action was the focus as the region marked Celebrate Trails Day on April 22 with more than a dozen events across greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey.

The “Moving the Circuit Forward to Reach 500 Miles by 2025” report outlines the progress toward reaching the Coalition’s short-term 500-mile goal and what it will take to advance the remaining 90 miles left to reach the milestone. The coalition recommends policy and funding actions that local decision-makers can take to accelerate the trail network’s progress, including working with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Departments of Transportation to access historic levels of federal trail and active transportation funding.

“As one of the country’s largest and most successful trail networks, the Circuit Trails illustrates the power of trails and active transportation infrastructure to connect people, build community and deliver countless quality of life benefits in ways that are equitable and inclusive,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition and executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

“We can’t slow down our progress. We’re in the home stretch of reaching our short-term goal to connect 500 miles of this 800-mile trail network by 2025. We need our neighbors, county commissioners, and all our local, state and regional leaders to stand with us in prioritizing this infrastructure as essential, which means funding it, building it and maintaining it,” said Clark Stuart.

In the past 15 months, the Circuit Trails added 20 new miles, bringing the network’s total to 378 miles of existing trails. An additional 32 miles are fully funded, leaving only 90 miles of trail that need to be fully funded or completed by the end of 2025 to reach the 500-mile goal. The report concludes that if each county fully funds or constructs three miles of trail each year between now and 2025, the Circuit Trails can hit the 500-mile mark.

The cornerstone of the report is policy recommendations tailored to the various key entities that impact the Circuit Trails: the counties within the network, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

The recommendations are aimed at prioritizing and channeling resources already available at the state and federal levels toward Circuit Trails projects. Offers include programming Circuit Trails Projects annually on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs), designating Transportation Alternative Set-Aside (TASA) funds for technical assistance, utilizing existing federal funding sources for the design of the trail, enhancing staffing and creating trail development jobs.

On Celebrate Trails Day, Saturday, April 22, events across greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey connected residents and visitors with the impact of the Circuit Trails and rallied new support for the region to fund and complete 500 miles of the region’s trail network by 2025. Celebrate Trails Day is organized by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the nation’s largest trails advocacy organization and a member of the Circuit Trails Coalition, encouraging Americans to walk, bike and be active outside in a demonstration of the impact that trails make for people, places and the planet.

More than a dozen events are planned for April 22 across the Circuit Trails, including trail and park clean-ups, guided walks, group bike rides, live music, arts and crafts, skateboarding lessons and much more, creating an opportunity for neighbors to come together to learn more about the regional vision and take action to accelerate progress.

“Celebrate Trails Day is an opportunity each year to unite around the benefits of trails, nationally and here in our communities,” said Clark Stuart. “We know trail demand continues to grow yearly and that more funding than ever is available for our network. We’re encouraging community members to explore the free, family-friendly events in their neighborhoods and learn how they can support priority trail projects in their county.”

As part of the report, the Circuit Trails Coalition has identified priority trail projects in the nine-county region to ensure the area reaches the interim campaign goal of 500 miles by 2025 to connect the critical gaps within the Circuit Trails network.

The Circuit Trails Coalition comprises more than 60 non-profit organizations collaborating with 25 state and local agencies and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to promote Circuit Trails development, marketing it to the general public and highlighting the Circuit Trails’ multiple benefits.

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