A recent report from the rails-to-trail conservancy estimates even modest public investments in trail and active transportation networks can deliver big benefits.

From connecting people to jobs to encouraging healthy behaviors such as physical activity and revitalizing economies, the group estimates economic return from active transportation networks to be $73.8 billion in a moderate scenario and $138+billion in a substantial scenario. Additional benefits include better access to jobs, education and culture; elevated health and social connectivity; improved economic growth in communities; and increased walking and biking.

Notes the report:

“Designing communities with low-stress, routine active transportation in mind can help address the national problem of sedentary lifestyles leading to chronic disease. With safe networks of walking and biking in place everywhere across the country, communities can substantially curb carbon emissions while benefiting from better air quality. Investing in active transportation facilities will also produce a positive fiscal return on investment by generating more jobs, consumer spending and tourism, while attracting and retaining a skilled workforce with community design that prioritizes the walkable, bikeable features that are hallmarks of good places to live.”

All we need, according to the report, is to encourage decision makers to prioritize active transportation funding and focus investment creating and connecting a nationwide active-transportation network.

Read the full report here.