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American Trails Action Alert - August 2008

American Trails Action Alert    
August 2008

We'd like to bring your attention to two important issues that will effect all trail users, planners, and managers:

1. Use and definitions of powered vehicles for ADA accessibility
2. Transportation funding: major changes proposed

ADA rule making proposed for "power-driven mobility devices"

“Should motorized devices that use fuel or internal-combustion engines (e.g., all-terrain vehicles) be considered personal mobility devices that are covered by the ADA?”

This is one of the questions asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a request for public input. DOJ is proposing to add a category of “other power-driven mobility devices” to accessibility regulations for state, local governments, and businesses. All comments must be received online at Regulations.gov by August 18, 2008.

Trail managers and supporters, as well as some accessibility advocates have raised concerns about the proposed rules and definitions for mobility devices. Some Segway users make a good case for being allowed to use these devices in buildings, on trails, and on sidewalks, in place of wheelchairs. The concern is that without careful wording, any person who says they have a disability will be allowed to operate any device that increases their mobility, even if the use of such devices in that location are prohibited for all other people. It would then be up to individual land managers to evaluate trails and areas to post regulations concerning specific types of mobility devices.

For more on this and other ADA and accessible trails issues, visit our website area on “Accessible Trails.”

Administration proposes new approach to national transportation programs

As reauthorization of federal transportation funding approaches, the administration is sending a clear message that things will be different. “Without a doubt, our federal approach to transportation is broken," said U.S. Transportation Secretary, Mary E. Peters, announcing the "Refocus, Reform, Renew Transportation Plan" on July 29, 2008.

A key message is "greatly reducing over 102 federal transportation programs which have proliferated over the last two decades replacing them with eight comprehensive, intermodal programs." Secretary Peters stated that,"These programs dilute the effects of federal funding by forcing state and local officials to fund projects such as recreational trails, while projects that would make a difference for commuters languish."

For trail advocates, the question is whether the Recreational Trails Program, Transportation Enhancements, and Scenic Byways funding would remain.

This press release on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee site at http://transportation.house.gov/News/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=721 has a different perspective that one should be aware of in considering where the Congress and next administration may go with the next reauthorization.

Keep informed on these crucial funding issues as we learn more, and as Congress and the Presidential candidates add their own visions of transportation. We must be an active and positive voice in the reauthorization process. See our "Supporting Trails" page for more information.

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