Rep. Gomez and Senator Booker Introduce Bill to Promote Access to Public Lands and Green Spaces Through Public Transit
The Transit to Trails Act will Ensure That Individuals and Families can Safely and Conveniently Access Public Lands
Washington, May 4, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced a bill in the House and Senate that promotes equitable access to parks, green spaces, and public lands and waters. The Transit to Trails Act creates a grant program to fund projects that make transportation to green spaces and public lands more accessible for critically underserved communities.
A lack of transportation options often excludes those in underserved communities from accessing our public lands, which are national resources that should be readily available to all Americans. The Transit to Trails Act takes an equitable approach to help communities nationwide with the highest need for better sustainable public transportation options, making access to these public lands more affordable and accessible for all.
“Getting out in nature is essential for our mental health and physical wellbeing, especially for our children. But many cities are built in a way that makes America’s national parks and public lands inaccessible for underserved communities,” said Congressman Gomez. “Everyone deserves access to green spaces, not just those who can afford to drive to them. That’s why I’m proud to partner with Senator Booker on this legislation that will remove barriers between our cities and our parks to ensure everyone, regardless of their zip code, can enjoy the beautiful outdoors.”
"Every American should be able to enjoy America’s parks and public lands regardless of where they live," said Senator Booker. "However, a lack of transportation options to these places can be a significant barrier for many people. The Transit to Trails Act is an important step towards making sure that everyone can enjoy our public lands and waters. By encouraging more transportation options to our nation’s valuable outdoor spaces, this bill will help promote public health and provide more opportunities for all Americans, particularly those in underserved communities, to enjoy the great outdoors.”
The Transit to Trails Act will ensure that individuals and families can safely and conveniently access public lands, no matter where they live. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers that people face when attempting to access our public lands,” said Robert Scott, Outdoors for All Associate Director of Federal Policy. “When 100 million Americans, including 28 million children, don’t live within a 10-minute walk of a quality park, bills like this are important in helping to bridge the nature equity gap to ensure that more people have a way to spend time in nature.
“Decades of racist and exclusionary land use and city planning policies have left many low-income kids and communities of color without access to nearby nature,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Founder and Chair, Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Many families living in nature-deprived communities also lack access to reliable and affordable transportation. Congress can break down these barriers and ensure all kids and families can experience the healing powers of our natural world by passing the Transit to Trails Act, and investing in access to the outdoors for all.”
“American Hiking Society praises the reintroduction of the Transit to Trails Act by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), which will expand access to public lands for urban and rural areas, especially underserved communities by reducing transportation barriers,” said Heather Klein Olson, Acting Executive Director of American Hiking Society. “This legislation will make sure that the communities that need them most will be able to access trails, parks, and open spaces. Congress must swiftly pass this legislation as part of transportation and infrastructure legislation.”
"The Transit to Trails Act is about more than providing transportation to parks and open spaces. It centers the benefits of being one with nature, while acknowledging that not everyone has or wants access to a car to enjoy those benefits. The Transit to Trails Act will provide much needed resources to ensure that transportation options are more readily available for everyone to enjoy time outdoors. When barriers put between people and parks disappear with the support of policies like this one, that’s where park equity begins,” said Yvette Lopez-Ledesma, Deputy Vice President, Community-led Conservation, The Wilderness Society.
"Everyone deserves access to outdoor recreation opportunities. The Transit to Trails Act would improve public transportation to make existing public lands and green space more accessible to everyone in America, and providing these opportunities will promote the physical, mental, and economic health of individuals and communities. We are grateful to Senator Booker and Rep. Gomez for their leadership in connecting communities to public lands and waters," said Louis Geltman, Outdoor Alliance Policy Director.
The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Nanette Barragan, Earl Blumenauer, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cardenas, Andre Carson, Sean Casten, Judy Chu, Steve Cohen, Mark DeSaulnier, Adriano Espaillat, Chuy Garcia, Raul Grijalva, Jared Huffman, Sara Jacobs, Barbara Lee, Joseph Morelle, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Eleanor Norton, Katie Porter, Linda Sanchez, John Sarbanes, Janice Schakowsky, David Scott, Adam Smith, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Nydia Velazquez, Nikema Williams, Adam Schiff, Suzanne Bonamici, Shontel Brown, Danny Davis, and Mike Levin.
The full list of supporting organizations can be found here.
The full text of the bill can be found here.