Barriers and Opportunities for Using Rail-Trails for Safe Travel in Rural, Isolated, and Tribal Communities

In the United States more than twenty thousand miles of defunct railroads have been converted to trails for pedestrians and bicyclists. Many rail-trails are located near communities that are rural, isolated, and tribal, yet often users are not local residents, but rather affluent visitors from urban areas using the trails for recreation and tourism. For example, the Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes is a 72-mile, paved trail that starts on a tribal reservation and passes through various rural towns. Does this trail best serve the transportation needs of the local population? Are there potential safety concerns at certain intersections or highway crossings that prevent wider use? Is the trail alignment matched with the daily commute of residents and of those with more utilitarian travel patterns? Are there physical or policy barriers that restrict snowmobile and ATV travel? Are there new or potential technologies, such as e-bikes, that might make the trails more attractive for long distance travel between rural and isolated communities? This project will align with CSET’s focus area of coordination and context-sensitive solutions and contribute to a cultural safety assessment. In addition, this project will: 1) develop and plan for documents that identify “best practices” that are relevant to RITI communities, 2) collect and obtain data that has not previously been used of existed, and 3) establish and nourish relationships so that residents and local communities will be willing to share information and invite the research team to listen. This project aims to build capacity to support local engagement in planning, decision-making, and resource allocation.


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $120000
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Department of Transportation

      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Center for Safety Equity in Transportation

      University of Alaska Fairbanks
      Fairbanks, AK  United States  99775
    • Project Managers:

      Connor, Billy

    • Performing Organizations:

      Center for Safety Equity in Transportation

      University of Alaska Fairbanks
      Fairbanks, AK  United States  99775
    • Principal Investigators:

      Lowry, Michael

      Chang, Kevin

    • Start Date: 20180702
    • Expected Completion Date: 20190930
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01681647
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Center for Safety Equity in Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747129
    • Files: UTC, RiP
    • Created Date: Sep 21 2018 3:19PM