Bicycle Route 66: Behind the Scenes in Oklahoma

March 25, 2015

During the month of March, we are featuring a series of guest posts that showcase the volunteers and advocates who provided behind-the-scenes support to bring Bicycle Route 66 to life. In this interview, Kevin Mussett, board member of the Oklahoma Bicycle Coalition (OBC), shares how Bicycle Route 66 and USBR 66 designation has been a central focus for their efforts to attract bicycle tourism and make Oklahoma safer and more bicycle friendly. 

Kevin Mussett, left, and Bonnie Winslow, right, are board members of the Oklahoma Bicycle Coalition.

What does Oklahoma Bicycle Coalition do to improve bicycle touring in Oklahoma?

I became interested in bicycle advocacy after seeing the progress made by other states and cities across the country, and recognizing the need for this progress in Oklahoma. We have been successful in creating and hosting the first two Oklahoma Bike Summits and will be hosting this year's summit in Stillwater on November 13th and 14th. We also worked with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to hire a full-time Bike/Ped Coordinator and form an Oklahoma Bike/Ped Advisory Committee.

What is your state’s plan to designate Bicycle Route 66 as a U.S. Bicycle Route? And where are you now in that process?

The OBC did outreach to communities along Bicycle Route 66 and received 30 letters or resolutions of support for U.S. Bicycle Route 66 designation from governing bodies, visitor bureaus, and the biking community. In addition, various entities provided input on the route with adjustments made to meet community requests. The support documents were provided to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), but at this time ODOT has no plans to designate U.S. Bicycle Route 66 as they feel it is not a safe place for bicyclists. This could change in the future as they become more aware of its usage, especially with the release of Adventure Cycling's Bicycle Route 66. Since Department of Transportation controls nearly 85% of the highways on the route and is the nominating official, their support for designation is essential.  Once there is an acceptable route and it is approved by ODOT, the application will be sent to AASHTO for designation. 

The Oklahoma legislature did recently pass a bill establishing Rt. 66 as a historic bike trail with signage and shouldering to be done as funds become available. 

How did you assist Adventure Cycling’s Routes & Mapping team to develop Bicycle Route 66?

Lon Haldeman, a bicycling tour guide and record-holding ultra-cyclist, spoke at our first Bike Summit in 2011.  He later provided us turn-by-turn directions and we further assisted ACA’s cartographers providing experienced local riders in the urban area to map out the best and safest routes.

Have you ever bicycled or driven the entire Route 66? What is your favorite kitschy Route 66 place?

I have driven the majority of Rt. 66 and have pedaled a large part of the route in Oklahoma.  I particularly like the scenery of New Mexico and the icons of Oklahoma.

What is your favorite stretch of Bicycle Route 66 in your state to bicycle and why?

I’d say west from El Reno on because more of it is the original pavement, it’s scenic, and less congested.  I have to admit I like the forests of eastern OK, too.

Kevin Mussett is a board member and past president of the Oklahoma Bicycle Coalition, which promotes bicycling for fun, fitness, and transportation and a bicycle-friendly Oklahoma through advocacy and education. He is also the Chair of the Rt. 66 Committee formed by the group and is an avid bike tourist having completed the Central Tier at age 50 and the Northern Tier at age 60 (and currently planning on doing the Southern Tier at 70 or before).

Top photos by Bonnie Winslow; bottom photo by Tammy Schurr.

BUILDING THE U.S. BICYCLE ROUTE SYSTEM is posted by Ginny Sullivan and Saara Snow of the Travel Initiatives Department and focuses on news related to the emerging U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). 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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