6 Steps to Implementing U.S. Bicycle Routes

February 23, 2011

We've met with many states over the past couple of years about the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). As we move from awareness building to the implementation process, it's become exceedingly important that states and their partners understand the vision as well as the "how to" of getting it done.

To get them started, we present a General Implementation Slide Show that takes agency staff, bicycling and trail groups, and other stakeholders through the USBRS history, project vision, and AASHTO expectations. (Open the slideshow above and hit the "Show Menu" button at the bottom left to read the slide notes.)

Adventure Cycling has also created a step-by-step guide to help states and their stakeholders more fully understand the process of designating a U.S. Bicycle Route. The Steps for Planning and Implementing U.S. Bicycle Routes (pdf, 112k) and the corresponding Flowchart (pdf, 128k) are meant to provide guidelines based upon our experience so far.

The steps (condensed) are:

1) Review the National Corridor Plan Map (pdf): determine changes and/or which corridor to implement first; talk to neighboring states!

2) Determine and communicate with stakeholders: roles and responsibilities and the what, who, how, and when

3) Determine the route: roads and trails, and gain official endorsement of the route from various agencies and trail managers

4) Document the route: a map, turn-by-turn explanation, and services along the way

5) Coordinate with adjoining states on the Application (remember: State DOTs must partner)

6) Promote the U.S. Bike Route: maps, websites, brochures, signs, and more


The process of developing a U.S. Bicycle Route opens the door to collaboration on so many levels: between AASHTO, Adventure Cycling Association, State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), other state and local agencies, bike clubs and coalitions, trail organizations, and many more. As with any collaborative process, there are bound to be pitfalls and challenges -- but the resulting triumph of having an official and nationally recognized bicycle route system will be incredibly rewarding for cyclists throughout the world.

Top photo of Minnesota stakeholders; middle photo of Washington stakeholders. Both photographs by Ginny Sullivan.


BUILDING THE U.S. BICYCLE ROUTE SYSTEM (USBRS) is posted by Ginny Sullivan, USBRS coordinator at Adventure Cycling, and features news and updates related to the emerging U.S. Bicycle Route System. The USBRS project is a collaborative effort, spearheaded by a task force under the auspices of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Members of the task force include officials and staff from state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, and nonprofits like the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Mississippi River Trail, Inc.


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