An Analysis of State Legislation on Community Trails

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Amy Eyler
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Tina Lankford
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Jamie Chriqui
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Kelly R. Evenson
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Judy Kruger
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Nancy Tompkins
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Carolyn Voorhees
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Susan Zieff
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Semra Aytur
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Ross Brownson
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Background:

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

Methods:

State trail legislation from 2001 to 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.

Results:

Of the total 991 trail bills, 516 (52.0%) were appropriations bills, of which 167 (32.2%) were enacted. We analyzed 475 (48%) nonappropriation trail bills of which 139 (29.3%) were enacted. The percentage of enactment of appropriations bills decreased over time while enactment of nonappropriations trail bills increased. Over half of the nonappropriations trail bills included at least 1 evidence-informed element, most commonly funding. Few bills contained liability, connectivity, accessibility, or maintenance.

Conclusions:

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 use to support trails. Lastly, trails should be considered in over-all state-level physical activity legislation to provide opportunities for communities to be active.

Eyler is with the Prevention Research Center, Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Lankford is with the Physical Activity and Health Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Chriqui is with the Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago. Evenson is with the Dept of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Kruger is with the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Tompkins is with the Dept of Community Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Voorhees is with the Dept of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland, College Park , MD. Zieff is with the Dept of Kinesiology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA. Aytur is with the Dept of Health Management and Policy, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. Brownson is with the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Dept of Surgery, and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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