U.S. Bicycle Route System hits 30-State milestone

Reader Contribution by Winona Bateman

As of early March, thirty states are now actively working to implement official U.S. Bike Routes for transportation, recreation, and tourism — double the number from last year!

The U.S. Bicycle Route System is a proposed national network of bicycle routes. For a route to be officially designated a U.S. Bicycle Route, there are a few requirements: It must connect two or more states, a state, and an international border, or other U.S. Bicycle Routes. Ideally, U.S. Bicycle Routes will link urban, suburban, and rural areas. These routes are nominated for numbered designation by State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and documented by AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) through the Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (the same committee that assigns numbers to U.S. highways and interstates). Adventure Cycling Association has provided dedicated staff support to the project since 2005.

This May, we’re anticipating that AASHTO will approve the first new U.S. Bicycle Routes in nearly three decades!

What’s happening in your state?

Check out the new “state-by-state progress” webpage for the USBRS. At the top of the page you’ll see the National Corridor Plan map for the USBRS, which displays 50-mile wide “corridors” across the U.S. that are the most suitable (to date) for implementation of U.S. Bike Routes. (The plan can change based upon state opportunities and interests, creating new corridors or realignments.) As corridors become routes, the wide swaths of color that define corridors on the map will become solid lines, to define actual routes. (At present, there are only two existing USBRs, which were approved in the early 1980s — see USBR 76 in Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois, and USBR 1 in Virginia and North Carolina).

Users can review each state’s recommended corridors on the map, then hover over a state of their choice, click, and jump to a description of that state’s progress, including its “implementation model,” “status,” a brief description of the work being done, as well as contact information and related websites for that state.

The “implementation model” describes what entity within a state is leading the U.S. Bike Route effort. So far three dominant implementation models have emerged: efforts driven by state Department of Transportation (DOTs), volunteer driven implementation, and work teams made up of public and private leaders.

“Status” is displayed as one of three phases: planning, implementation, or promotion. As states move into the promotion phase (having established their routes through the official AASHTO route numbering process), their progress report will link to DOT and bike/trail websites where USBR maps and turn-by-turn instructions for bicycle travelers may be available for download.

The new online National Corridor Plan map and state progress reports are helping Adventure Cycling raise awareness about the U.S. Bicycle Route System among state DOTs and allowing U.S. Bike Route leaders to take a role as the primary contact person for their state’s effort. Plus, they allow users to track what’s happening in their state, and learn how to get involved!

When complete, the U.S. Bicycle Route System will be the largest official bike route network on the planet, encompassing more than 50,000 miles of routes.

Learn more at www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs.

Adventure Cycling Association is the largest membership cycling organization in North America with nearly 45,000 members. A nonprofit
organization, its mission is to inspire people of all ages to travel by
bicycle. It produces routes and maps for cycling in North America, organizes
more than 45 tours annually, and publishes the best bicycle travel information
anywhere, including
Adventure Cyclist
magazine and the
online Cyclists’ Yellow Pages. With 40,699 meticulously mapped miles in the Adventure Cycling Route
Network, Adventure Cycling gives cyclists the tools and confidence to create
their own bike travel adventures. Contact the office at (800) 755-BIKE (2453),
info@adventurecycling.org, or visit

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