How To Create Your Own Route

Jun 27, 2013

Photo by Seth W.

Though our 41,420-mile route network covers a lot of ground, there will be times when you want to ride somewhere in the U.S. we haven't mapped. Outside of doing an internet search on your proposed route, there are a few other tips I can offer that I hope will make your route creation process easier.

Of course, I heartily suggest you begin your process by perusing our route network. It is available as a pdf download or to view online interactively and though you may not use an entire route, mixing and matching a section here and there can speed up your research.

Every state Department of Transportation has a bicycle/pedestrian coordinator — even if they are not full time in this position, they will know the resources in their state better than anyone else. Nearly every state publishes a bicycle map of some sort they will send out for free. The coordinators or their state website often have more information available right there online or in print. And while the maps often aren't as detailed as ours, they generally offer suggested roads for cycling through their state. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center maintains a webpage of contact information for each state.

If there are urban areas you want to ride through, crowdsourced-type mapping solutions might be helpful in your planning. Two of the most popular are MapMyRide.com and RideWithGPS.com (free account required). You simply input your location or destination and you can see where local cyclists are riding to begin planning your route through the city.

Though still in beta, Google maps is a resource worth looking into. Generally the feedback I've heard is it does better over short distances rather than one long route. When you arrive at the Get Directions page, enter your location and destination, click on the bicycle icon, then Get Directions to see their recommended routing.

These routes are based on data from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, local and state bicycling organizations and agencies, as well as feedback from cyclists. Routes are generated by an algorithm that doesn't necessarily take all factors important to a touring cyclist into account so you will want to closely review their suggestions to ensure their routes are viable for you.

And finally, once you have a route pieced together, or you've found a sticky spot you just can't quite figure out, tap into the resources of our forums. Cyclists from all over the world who have cycled all over the world participate in these discussions and are quite willing to help you fine tune your route.

Photo from Seth Werkheiser's photostream on Flickr

GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.

Comments

Kevin

Google Maps are especially helpful in urban areas with lots of intersections. It's easy to get off-route, and Google Maps will figure out where you are and how to get where you are going.

Think of it as a tactical weapon, not a strategic one.

June 27, 2013, 12:51 PM
Reply
David

Hey just noticed that a few nice long bike routes in B.C. are missing from your pdf. I am thinking of the KVR/Transcan trail that goes across the entire province.

June 28, 2013, 12:05 AM
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Jennifer Milyko

Hi David,

Thanks for noticing! Unfortunately, you are correct, we haven't mapped those trails across B.C. Feel free to send me more information about your suggestion.

Best,

.Jennifer.

July 10, 2013, 2:30 PM
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Jim Brunette

Interested in your newsletter.

June 28, 2013, 5:44 PM
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Jennifer Milyko

Jim,

I'm not sure what newsletter you are referring to. Bike Bits perhaps? You can sign up for that on our website: http://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/bike-bits/

Best,

.Jennifer.

July 10, 2013, 2:34 PM
Reply
William(BillBilly) Boes

I am a street stider enthusiast and I need flat sidewalks,not banked road shouldered/bike routes.I am planning(hopefully) a trip from Stuart,Florida to NYC.As I said I need a sidewalk route.Any suggestions?I was hoping that U.S. Federal highway #1(Maine-Florida) would have "some" of its length accompanied by sidewalk(s).But I can't really plan a trip with incomplete,critical information.Please anyone who reads this comment and has a decent suggestion please let me know.You can inform me of anything that might be relevant to achieving what I have just described.I know I can do this and this new HPV certainly needs to show its stuff to an as Yet unknowing populace.Thank you for your assistance.I can't wait to do this.

August 6, 2013, 8:48 PM
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Jennifer Milyko

Hi William,

Unfortunately, we don't track information like sidewalks for our routes. You might check with the individual states you want to ride in and see if they have that information. Contact information can be found here:

http://www.walkinginfo.org/assistance/contacts.cfm

August 16, 2013, 1:46 PM
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David Winyard

First-cut bike routes can be generated using Topo USA or an old version of MS Streets and Trips. Invert the speeds for different roads (e.g. Interstates at 5 mph, streets at 15 mph) and calculate your route. Works well!

August 9, 2013, 6:04 PM
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Jennifer Milyko

Thanks for chiming in, David. Those sound like good tips to try.

August 16, 2013, 1:46 PM
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Lisa Edwards

Does anyone know how to load Google Bicycle routes to a Garmin? If so can you share how to do it. Thanks!

October 2, 2013, 5:13 PM
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Jennifer Milyko

Hi Lisa,

I don't know the answer to your question. However you might want to ask it on our Forums in the GPS Discussion: http://forums.adventurecycling.org/

Good luck!

October 3, 2013, 7:27 AM
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