There are major expansions to the United States Bicycle Route System, including three completely new routes and a connection from Alaska to the lower 48.
The three new routes are USBR 610 in Idaho, USBR 11 in Pennsylvania, and USBR 121 in Tennessee. USBR 20 in Minnesota has been extended and adjusted. Alaska’s network will now connect to Washington State via the Alaska Marine Highway System using ferries.
“Twice each year, state departments of transportation play a significant role in the expansion of the U.S. Bicycle Route System by designating new routes,” explained Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
“Those bike routes are critical to enhancing and expanding the active transportation opportunities within the nation’s multimodal mobility network,” he said. “State DOTs play a key role in helping foster more and safer bicycle travel options for all Americans and goes to the heart of AASHTO’s longstanding partnership with the Adventure Cycling Association.”
Digital maps for all designated U.S. Bicycle Routes are available to the public for free on the Adventure Cycling Association’s USBRS Maps and Route Resources page.
"It's exciting to see how the U.S. Bicycle Route System mirrors our European counterpart bicycle travel network, EuroVelo in a new way: ferries!,” said Jennifer O’Dell, executive director of Adventure Cycling Association. “By incorporating the Alaska Marine Highway System into the USBRS, cyclists’ horizons are widened beyond the Lower 48."
With the new designation and realignments, the U.S. Bicycle Route System now boasts 19,425 miles of routes in 34 states and Washington, D.C.
Alaska’s coastal regions are known for abundant wildlife, stunning tidewater glaciers, and lively port communities. For many of these towns, ferries and water taxis are the primary link to the rest of the state and beyond. The ferry offers scheduled service from Bellingham, WA, and Prince Rupert, B.C. to over 35 port communities in the Inside Passage, Prince William Sound, Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island, and the Aleutian Islands. This is the first time a ferry system has been designated as part of a US Bicycle Route! USBRs 95, 97, and 87 will now be part of this extensive marine highway system and passengers will be able to enjoy scenic sights such as marine wildlife and explore the Tongass, which is the nation's largest national forest.
USBR 610 connects the cities of Hope and East Hope. The 7-mile USBR 610 allows touring cyclists direct access to businesses in these communities as well as travel along county roads and city streets with significantly lower traffic volumes.
Along its winding path through Minnesota, US Bicycle Route 45 and its alternate, US Bicycle Route 45A (also known as the Mississippi River Trail) connect nearly 800 miles of existing shouldered highways, low-volume roads and off-road paths for bicyclists. Originally designated in 2012, MnDOT has updated the routes to include many new miles of trail built by local partner to allow riders to remain on-trail and along the banks of the Mississippi nearly all the way through the Twin Cities metro area.
Minnesota designated the first part of US Bicycle Route 20 from Moorhead to St. Cloud in 2022. With a new extension, USBR 20 now crosses the entire state. It continues from St. Cloud along the same routing as USBR 45 to Hastings, then continues east to the Wisconsin state border at Prescott. Travelling through scenic Minnesota prairies and past dozens of the state’s 10,000 lakes, USBR 20 invites cyclists to visit a series of small and historic towns parallel to Interstate 94, then follow the banks of the Mississippi River through the Twin Cities metro area. It takes advantage of several state and regional trails, with nearly two-thirds of the route on off-road trails. Notably, Amtrak’s Empire Builder train has stops along USBR 20 in St. Paul/Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Fargo, N.D., giving the option for an easy and scenic return trip (reservations needed for bicycles).
USBR 11 bisects the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania traveling through fourteen counties (Tioga, Lycoming, Clinton, Centre, Juniata, Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Dauphin, Perry, Cumberland, York, Adams, and Franklin). The route utilizes portions of four (4) BicyclePA Routes (G, V, S J and S) and a new section of designated bike route in Franklin County to make the connection between New York and Maryland states.
The route provides an opportunity to ride through a number of state forests and state parks as well as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon while riding the Pine Creek Rail Trail. USBR 11 also provides opportunities to visit small communities and towns in both rural and suburban settings as well as larger cities like York Pennsylvania and provides a view of Pennsylvania’s state capital, Harrisburg while traveling along the Susquehanna River.
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The USBRS is a developing national network of officially recognized, numbered, and signed bicycle routes, with the goal of 50,000 miles of routes linking every state in the country. All U.S. Bicycle Routes are designated by state departments of transportation and approved by AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials).
Adventure Cycling Association provides national coordination for the USBRS, and partners with AASHTO to ensure states have the resources and expertise needed for successful route designation.