An Analysis of State Legislation on Community Trails

Trails provide opportunities for recreation, transportation and activity. The purpose of this study is: 1) to describe state legislation related to community trails, 2) to analyze legislation content, and 3) to evaluate legislation on inclusion of evidence-informed elements.

State trail legislation from 2001-2008 was identified using online legislative databases. An analysis of evidence-informed elements included in the legislation was conducted. These elements included: funding, liability, accessibility, connectivity, and maintenance.Of the total 991 trail bills, 516 (52.0%) were appropriations bills, of which 167 (32.2%) were enacted. We analyzed 475 (48%) non-appropriation trail bills of which 139 (29.3%) were enacted. The percentage of enactment of appropriations bills decreased over time while enactment of non-appropriations trail bills increased. Over half of the non-appropriations trail bills included at least one evidence-informed element, most commonly funding. Few bills contained liability, connectivity, accessibility, or maintenance.

There is opportunity for providing evidence-informed information to policy-makers to potentially influence bill content. The number of bills with a funding element demonstrates that fiscal support for trails is an important policy lever that state legislatures may utilize to support trails. Lastly, trails should be considered in over-all state-level physical activity legislation to provide opportunities for communities to be active.

Click on the link below to access the paper describing the trails legislation study.

An Analysis of State Legislation on Community Trails