Against a backdrop of the Washington Monument in the distance and framed by Capital Trails Coaltion signs, a Navy officer stands at a podium an addresses listeners.

Washington Area Bicyclist Association in support of the Capital Trails Coalition

Trails are more than beautiful places to spend time outdoors. They are a critical piece of our transportation system, connecting people to livable communities, nature, and to each other. However, the distribution of our existing trails makes it clear how generations of systemic injustice and bias in transportation planning and development have limited communities of color’s access to resources like trails. Our work seeks to address this inequity.

In 2015, the Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) brought together planners, advocates, community leaders, and decision-makers to brainstorm and develop a world-class trail network. With effort, strategy, and collaboration, that bold vision became the Capital Trails Network. When complete, 881 miles of connected and equitably distributed, multi-use trails will be available for everyone in the Washington, D.C. region to use. Over time, the network will connect nearly 4 million residents across Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. It will increase active transportation and emphatically and empirically ease congestion and emissions. It will have enumerable benefits, including increased active transportation, decreased congestion, and reduced carbon emissions.

Early on, the CTC created an Equitable Trail Analysis to determine priority trail projects based on several demographic factors and components of equity. The analysis identified 40 priority trail projects that would provide over 200,000 people with new access to trails within one mile of their homes. By dedicating our advocacy resources to completion of these 40 priority trail segments, the CTC hopes to expand trail access to communities where transportation planners, agencies, and advocates have historically underinvested time and resources. 61% of these individuals gaining trail access identify as Black, 15% identify as Hispanic, and 20% identify as white. The trail network will transform public life by providing low-stress access to open space and reliable transportation for people of all ages and abilities.

Capital Trails Coalition: Trail Network
Capital Trails Coalition: Trail Network

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