Proposed Route 66 bike route stalls at California border; contact Caltrans

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The song says Route 66 “winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way. …”

Lonely stretch of Route 66; Adventure Cycling photo

Lonely stretch of Route 66; Adventure Cycling photo

The Adventure Cycling Association’s bicycle route version of that famous highway corridor, however, doesn’t make it to LA. It’s stalled at Needles, California.

That’s because Caltrans won’t give bicycles legal access to use a 144-mile stretch of Interstate 40 between Needles and Barstow.

The nonprofit is seeking the public’s help to lobby Caltrans to open that section of interstate to bicyclists so it can complete and publish its Route 66 Bike Route maps, in the works since 2012.

The rest of the route is complete through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Cartographers for Adventure Cycling had to turn to I-40 because it’s the only option for travel between the two cities.

The only other route through the desert is the National Trails Highway, which is currently closed to all traffic  because flooding has washed out some bridges. Otherwise, the route is still unsuitable for bicycles because of large, tire-swallowing cracks and potholes.

Route 66 corridor

Route 66 corridor

The National Trails Highway is an old route through this region that became Route 66 in 1926. When Route 66 was decommissioned and traffic moved over to I-40, the National Trails Highway fell into serious disrepair.

Jennifer ‘Jenn’ Milyko, routes and mapping assistant director for Adventure Cycling, wrote several months ago : “Honestly, interstates are not our favorite routing. However, many interstate highways — especially in the west — are well suited to bicycle travel. They usually have very wide shoulders and appropriately applied rumble strips, making them relatively safe for cycling.”

With Caltrans forbidding bicycles to use I-40, Adventure Cycling says, cyclists will have to end their trip early (at the California border) or risk being ticketed by illegally riding I-40. The organization is putting the final touches on the layout and design of the Bicycle Route 66 maps, which are going to print in early February and available in March.

How to help

Adventure Cycling is seeking our help to gain access to I-40 for bicyclists. They have several suggestions:

— Please email Malcolm Dougherty, Director of Caltrans; Basem Muallem, the Director of District 8; and Catalino Pining III, Deputy District Director.Click here for a sample letter and email addresses.

— Post on Facebook! Here is a sample message you can post:

Please act now to help complete Adventure Cycling’s Bicycle Route 66. Ask Caltrans to allow cyclists on I-40 to provide bike travelers with a legal way to bicycle between Needles and Barstow California.

— TWEET! Here are a few sample messages you can tweet:

Support Bicycle Route 66 in California! #caltrans #acaBR66

Want to ride Bicycle Route 66? Access denied between Needles & Barstow! Contact #caltrans #acaBR66

To read up on more of  the issues, see:

Please Support Route 66, Adventure Cycling

Bicycle Route 66 Concerns, Adventure Cycling

Get Your Bike Travel Fix on Route 66, Adventure Cycling

Work begins on new Adventure Cycling route: Bicycle Route 66,

It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

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  1. […] month, Adventure Cycling reported that its proposed Route 66 bike route was stalled at the California border because Caltrans wouldn’t give bicycles legal access to use a 144-mile stretch of I-40 from […]

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