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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
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Dear Campaign Advocate,

It is no exaggeration to say that your response to this e-mail could determine the future of the 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation.

Therefore, please read this entire message carefully. Feel free to contact Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) if you have any questions before you act on the following.

As Congress contends with political questions about earmarking, House members are taking up the practice of policy requests: written communiqués from an individual member to the leadership of a committee expressing the former’s wishes that specific policy or programmatic matters be included in a given piece of legislation.

With the drafting of SAFETEA-LU’s reauthorization bill underway and a mid-May target date for completion, we ask for your urgent attention.

Please encourage your local leaders to co-sign a letter to your United States House Representative(s), asking that they, in turn, submit a “policy request” to the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee leadership, with copies to the Highways and Transit Subcommittee leadership:

  1. Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.)
  2. Ranking Member John L. Mica (R-Fla.)
  3. Subcommittee Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.)
  4. Subcommittee Ranking Member John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.)

This policy request should encourage Congress to create a robust Active Transportation Investment Fund in the transportation bill to provide communities with concentrated strategic investments to shift short driving trips to bicycling and walking. As part of this request for a national program, the letter may emphasize the value of considering your community as a candidate for inclusion, citing specific opportunities to develop safe and convenient active transportation systems from your case statement.
  
More specifically, the letter should:

  1. Be signed by influential local leaders from various sectors:
    a. Elected officials (mayor, city and county council members, county executives, etc.)
    b. Businesses (chamber of commerce, bicycle retailers, health and tourism industries, etc.)
    c. Agency leaders (MPOs, state or local DOTs, health departments, etc.)
    d. Advocates (bicycle and pedestrian, public health, environment, etc.)
  2. Comment on the progress made to date on your bicycle/pedestrian network, and the benefits this has already had.
  3. Note the tremendous cross-cutting benefits your community will see from a more safe, connected and convenient active transportation system. Consider referencing your campaign case statement, the "Active Transportation for America" report or these issue briefs.
  4. Include (if you deem it appropriate) your case statement as a testament to the rich and ripe opportunities to shift trips to walking and bicycling with such a focused investment.
  5. Attach a template policy request that can be sent directly from your congressional member(s) to the above targets. It is important that the policy requested be consistent across communities, but the specific words in the letter should be your own. See these key points to consider in drafting the policy request.
  6. Be delivered to your member(s) as soon as possible, with a deadline of April 24, 2009.
  7. Ask that your representative(s) in turn submit the policy request to the committee and subcommittee leadership by the first week in May.
  8. NOT BE SNAIL-MAILED to your representative’s Washington, D.C. office. Due to significant security barriers, mail to Washington offices can take weeks, if not months, to be delivered. Therefore, letters and attachments should be faxed or e-mailed to the Washington office, or else delivered to the district office with a request that the packet be forwarded to Washington.

It is particularly crucial that your member send along this policy request if s/he is on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (see this list of committee members).

With Congress in recess April 6-17, your representatives may be at home in their districts during this time. This could be a vital opportunity to hand-deliver the letter and plead for their support.

We recognize this is a short timeline, but as noted above, this urgency is generated by the T&I Committee’s intention to pass a bill out of committee this spring. This may be our only opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

Please let us know when you take action on this issue and any other information or questions you may have regarding this process. Once your letter is sent, please forward a copy to kartik@railstotrails.org.

Moving on this urgent call-to-action likely requires re-prioritizing your campaign activity over other pressing demands. However, the opportunity to so deeply benefit your community’s transportation system—not to mention that of the entire nation—knocks very rarely. When it does, we must answer!

Thank you,

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037
+1-202-331-9696

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037
+1-202-331-9696