An Active Roadmap: Best Practices in Rural Mobility


Publication Date

July 2023



Resource Type

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An Active Roadmap: Best Practices in Rural Mobility

Rural communities in America vary across many dimensions including population and demographic trends, economic and health indicators, and others. Some communities have continued to thrive with improving quality of life and stable or growing economies, while others have experienced a long and slow decline. What is clear is that there are many strategies, including improving rural transportation options, that can help improve quality of life by allowing better access to daily needs. In this report, we explore the different ways that rural communities can adapt to thrive in a changing America, with a primary focus on active and multimodal modes of transportation as a tool. Today, few people in rural communities would choose to drive farther than they did a decade ago for the same basic trips; however, development patterns are making it a necessity in much of the country. Land use and trip distance act as barriers to jobs and economic opportunities, and also impact access to crucial services such as health care, education, and broadband.

As such, there is an urgent need to invest in active and multimodal transportation systems for rural communities and small town centers. The goal of this report is to assess multimodal and land use conditions in rural America and recommend strategies that promote growth and help rural communities across the country reach their potential. 

The report is organized into four distinct parts:

Part 1: What is rural? Defining rural typologies.
Part 2: What are the unique needs and challenges of rural communities? Debunking myths about rural America.
Part 3: How can active and multimodal transportation be encouraged in rural America? Strategies for success + case studies.
Part 4: How can your rural community improve? The roadmap and takeaways.