October 18, 2017 - Laura Crawford is Adventure Cycling's U.S. Bicycle Route Coordinator.
At their recent fall meeting, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved three new U.S. Bicycle Routes (USBRs) in Washington State, as well as realignments to existing USBRs in Michigan and Virginia. While the mileages may be small, these additions are big improvements to connectivity and the overall riding experience.
After designating U.S. Bicycle Route 10 (USBR 10) in 2014, Washington has been hard at work building connections — and now has 277 new miles of designated U.S. Bicycle Routes. USBR 10 currently stretches 407 miles across northern Washington, connecting Anacortes to the Idaho border.
All three of these newly designated routes in Washington will eventually connect further South to the Oregon border — and beyond.
In Michigan, U.S. Bicycle Route 35 is being realigned just north of the lakefront community of Muskegon. The realignment moves the route off 14.3 miles of roadway, replacing it with 11.2 miles along the newly-constructed Berry Junction Trail. Not only does it improve the cycling experience by making use of this new off-highway path, it effectively shortens the route by a few miles, creating a more streamlined ride. The realignment now connects the Hart Montague Trail (to the north) with the Muskegon Lakefront Trail (to the south) — linking more than 40 miles of separated shared-use pathways/trails.
USBR 35 was originally designated in 2012 and runs for roughly 500 miles along the eastern edge of Lake Michigan before connecting into Indiana. The County Road Commission plans to install USBR 35 signs soon along this new segment.
In Northern Virginia, U.S. Bicycle Route 1 is being realigned onto a new and buffered, shared-use path along Richmond Highway. By moving the route, cyclists are diverted away from busy on-road sections, providing a safer and more enjoyable ride. This realignment also serves to straighten the route and shorten the overall distance by 2.4 miles. USBR 1 currently stretches for 277 miles through Virginia, and will eventually run the length of the East Coast.
Virginia is also realigning USBR 76, ensuring that the route follows the Virginia Capital Trail instead of the parallel roadway. The Virginia Capital Trail is a 52-mile paved, shared-use path that connects downtown Richmond to Jamestown, Virginia. The realignment to USBR 76 takes advantage of the 36 miles from Wills Church Road in Henrico County to Jamestown. USBR 76 is currently mapped at over 550 miles across Virginia, connecting into Kentucky and points west, with plans to one day reach the Pacific Ocean.
With every designation of a new U.S. Bicycle Route or realignment to improve an existing route, we are moving closer to our shared goal of a nationwide network of safe and connected bicycle travel routes.
Photo 1 Michele Pope | Photo 2 Josh DeBruyn | Photo 3 John Bolecek
BUILDING THE U.S. BICYCLE ROUTE SYSTEM is posted by Laura Crawford and Ginny Sullivan of the Travel Initiatives Department and focuses on the growth of the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS), a developing national network of bicycle travel routes. For more USBRS updates, sign up for the quarterly eNews.