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Indiana has more than 3,268 miles of trails and bikeways open for public use across the state.
A 2006 Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plan, Hoosiers on the Move: The Indiana State Trails, Greenways & Bikeways Plan, set a goal of having a trail within 7.5 miles (or 15 minutes) of all Indiana residents by 2016. The plan also established a visionary system of statewide interconnected arterials.
In 2006, 83 percent of all Indiana residents had a hiking, biking, or equestrian trail available within 7.5 miles of their home and 70 percent lived within five miles of a trail. As of July 2013, 97.9 percent of all Indiana residents live within 7.5 miles of a trail and 93.2 percent live within five miles of a trail.
The original goal of the DNR plan – a trail within 7.5 miles of all Hoosiers – virtually has been realized. In addition, the nearly 1,000 miles of State Visionary Trails were built quickly because of the completion of several extensive trail corridors. In 2006, 131 miles of this visionary system were complete. As of July 2013, an additional 197 miles of this system had been completed.
By completing several of the longest rail-trails in the state, Indiana boasts destination trails that enhance tourism, promote healthy lifestyles, and help boost economic development along those corridors and in surrounding communities.
Trails provide a number of benefits, including:
• Economic: Numerous studies have shown that trails attract businesses to communities and boost tourism, property values, and quality of life.
• Transportation: With growing concern over pollution and energy costs, more people than ever are looking for alternative ways to travel.
• Infrastructure Corridor: Co-locating important infrastructure such as sewage, water, gas and cable lines underneath trails could serve an important dual purpose.
• Health: Trails provide Hoosiers with a place to recreate and exercise. Trails also connect neighborhoods to parks, natural areas, sports fields and community resources. Increased physical activity reduces the chances of heart disease, cancer and obesity, and contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Traditionally, trail development in Indiana has been paid for through a combination of federal and state funds, with local matching dollars coming from public and private sources.
State and private funds for trails also have been secured and directed toward trails since 2006. Substantial amounts of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act special federal stimulus Transportation Enhancement funding was made available for trails in Indiana.
Jeanette P. Wilson
Transportation Planner, Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator
Office of Asset Planning & Management
Indiana Department of Transportation
100 N. Senate Ave., Room N955
Indianapolis, IN 46204