50,000-mile bicycle route network in US wins approval

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Draft map and numbering system

The plan to create a national system of bicycle routes covering more than 50,000 miles on roads and trails is gathering momentum.

A nationwide group of state and federal transporation officials has approved a National Corridor Plan that sets the framework and guidelines for developing the U.S. Bicycle Route System.

The idea, as spelled out by participant Adventure Cycling Association, is to create a system of interconnected bike routes in the US that crosses state borders and connects urban, rural and suburban regions.

As you can see from this draft map, the corridors would include the TransAmerica Trail, the Northern Tier and Southern Tier cross-country routes, the East Coast Greenway, the Mississippi River Trail, the Underground Railroad trail and many more.

Combining roads and trails, the bike route network would eclipse similar bike route systems in other countries, such as the National Cycle Network in the UK and La Route Verte in Canada.

Four years

A task force of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has been working on the project for four years. The association's approval of the plan in October means that states can collaborate with local agencies and neighboring states to begin establishing these routes.

The U.S. Bicycle Route System will encompass the bicycle touring route network created by the Adventure Cycling Association, as well as other national, regional and local bicycle routes.

“The USBRS will link regions across the country, regions with important scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational value, including metropolitan areas. The end result will be a national network of bike routes that will connect communities and ensure opportunities for future generations to travel by bicycle throughout North America.”

Next step

Adventure Cycling, which provided staff support for the task force, says there are many levels of implementation, among them road signs and markings, bike route maps, and highway maps with bike route markings. State and local agencies decide the details.

In fact, Michigan, Virginia and Florida are already moving forward. [See “Virginia is for Bicycle Route lovers”]

The task force, for instance, has hit upon a two-digit numbering system; even numbers for east-west and odd numbers for north-south routes.

The corridors

To create the bicycle route network, all the cross-country bike routes were inventoried. These included many of the 38,000 miles of bicycle routes already mapped by Adventure Cycling, as well as the East Coast Greenway and Mississippi River Trail.

Next, all the bicycle routes under state or non-governmental oversight were collected and mapped. This included bike routes on roads, as well as rails-to-trails routes.

Then staffers examined all these bike routes and began searching for places where they could logically link up from state to state. Along the way, they took metropolitan areas and tourist destinations into account.

Other countries

Similar nationwide bicycle routes already have been implemented in other countries.

The UK's National Cycle Network has grown to 12,000 miles. In North America, Quebec has unveiled La Route Verte, which encompasses 2,400 miles of bicycle routes through the province.

European countries with bicycle networks include Germany, 7,000 miles; Denmark, 2,400 miles, the Netherlands, 2,700 miles, and Switzerland, 3,000 miles.


Check out Adventure Cycling for more information on the US Bicycle Route System, including maps, the vision, and updates on how it evolved.

Also, see the ACA press release announcing the AASHTO approval.

Nov. 10, 2008: “Why Virginia is for U.S. Bicycle Route lovers”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.bikingbis.com/2008/10/29/50000-mile-bicycle-route-network-in-us-wins-approval/

1 comment

    • Fischer on November 6, 2012 at 9:57 am
    • Reply

    Great! Finally! I’m looking forward

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