The U.S. Bicycle Route System continues to grow.
Two new routes have been designated for numbering in the upper Midwest this month — USBR 35 in Michigan and USBR 45 in Minnesota (both shown in red at left).
In addition, USBR 1 in North Carolina was re-aligned.
The new routes add more than 600 miles to the bicycle route network that already includes other routes in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Alaska.
The USBR is envisioned as a nationwide, numbered bicycle route network that connects cities and natural and historical landmarks. Fully implemented, the system would exceed 50,000 miles in length.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has endorsed the National Corridor Plan. The non-profit Adventure Cycling Association is coordinating local efforts to win approval for the individual routes.
The “Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It.” campaign is an effort to raise $50,000 to help offset Adventure Cycling’s costs on the project.
The bicycle route runs nearly 500 miles across Michigan from Sault Ste. Marie on the Canadian border to New Buffalo, on the Indiana border. The route follows state highways, county and local road and multi-use trdails, such as TART Trails.
Attractions along the route include the Mackinaw Bridge, Mackinac Island, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
When complete, USBR 35 will follow a corridor south through Indiana all the way into Mississippi.
This is the state’s second US Bicycle Route. Michigan received approval for an east-west route — USBR 20 — last year.
This north-south routes starts just south of the Twin Cities in Hastings and ends 148 miles later at the Iowa border.
It follows what’s known as the Mississippi Bluffs section of the Mississippi River Trail that stretches from the headwaters of the river to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico.
The newly accredited US Bicycle Route passes steep limestone bluffs and hardwood forests containing lots of wildlife. It passes through three state parks, the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge, and many riverside towns.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to get approval for the entire 800-mile section of the Mississippi River Trail as part of the USBR 45. Eventually, this bicycle route will follow the Mississippi River all the way from the source to New Orleans.
USBR 1 realignment
The US Bicycle Route 1 through North Carolina was one of the system’s first bicycle routes, approved in 1982. The alignment changes moves the route away from the Raleigh-Durham Airport and avoids conflicts with I-74/US74 in Scotland County.
It’s exciting to see this bicycle network expand.
The modern National Corridor Plan was approved in 2008. Michigan and Minnesota were among the first states where volunteer and highway department staff members started working to find the best routes and get approvals from the local communities.
Now, more than 40 states are making progress toward getting routes approved for numbering by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.