From our executive director: Stepping up in this historic moment of need

nh seacoast greenway kids on trail
Children enjoy the future New Hampshire Seacoast Greenway.

Our nation is hurting. So many of our friends and family have lost jobs - almost 40 million now or roughly one-fourth of our workforce. And 100,000 Americans have lost their lives. We've never experienced a shock at this speed and scale. So what do we do? Should we try to quietly wait out the storm and then react to the new reality that emerges in 2021? Or are we ready to boldly call for a vision that could be a key solution to the crisis?

I prefer the latter. And that is what our country needs. For the last 29 years, we have been talking about a vision of safe biking and walking routes that lowers the cost of transportation and health care for tens of millions of people. We have never needed to reduce our costs more than today. We have been pitching a future with reduced obesity thanks to safe, equitable routes for commuting and for recreation where a third of our country's population lives. Recent studies have found that obesity is a top risk factor inducing severity of COVID-19. And we have been sharing the remarkable return on investment of greenway infrastructure, supporting 50 percent more jobs per dollar than highway construction and becoming an engine for economic growth by increasing quality of life and attracting active tourists who spend more in communities than those careening by on the interstate. Our latest impact report on completing the East Coast Greenway in Greater Philadelphia shows a return of $10 for every $1 invested. And as New York Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver recently said, greenways and parks are necessary "sanctuaries of sanity" in these times.

That's why we just launched a Greenway Stimulus initiative to educate federal leaders on the transformational potential of investing $25 billion to complete the East Coast Greenway and similar trail systems that are poised to connect all 50 states. Not only can such an initiative get hundreds of thousands of people back to work in a safe outdoor environment, but it will lay the groundwork for an equitable economic recovery that improves public health and the environment. 

It's up to us to make this happen. Our network is 125,000 people - are we 125,000-people strong? Highways and pipelines will receive virtually all stimulus infrastructure funds unless we raise our voices together now. We are meeting with several Senators and members of the House, and we are hearing a positive response. But positive doesn't cut it. We need leaders to step up and back this clear solution to today's crises facing public health, the climate and our economy. 

Already over 140 organizations in most states across the country have signed-on to the call for $25 billion in Greenway Stimulus. Please stand with us by helping us educate federal leaders and giving support to our nonprofit as we elevate our vision toward a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future for all. 

Together, we can get through this and build a better tomorrow.

Dennis

Dennis Markatos-Soriano,  Executive Director

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