From Washington to Virginia: Growth and Improvements to the U.S. Bicycle Route System

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.

Washington

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.

Quiet roads across Washington.
  • USBR 87 begins in Sumas, Washington, at the border with British Columbia, Canada. It winds through farmland and several small communities on its way to Bellingham, where it meets up with the other two newly designated USBRs. From Bellingham, USBR 87 winds its way toward Sedro-Woolley, where it crosses USBR 10; and then skirts the eastern edge of Mount Vernon before ending, for now, at the Skagit County line.
  • USBR 95 starts further west, in Blaine, Washington. It zigs to the east, passing through the community of Lynden, before connecting with USBR 87 in Bellingham. It follows the same route as USBR 87 for a few miles, then diverges to the west, crossing USBR 10 in the community of Burlington. The route then goes through Mount Vernon before reconnecting with USBR 87 at the Skagit County line.
  • USBR 97 also starts in Blaine, Washington, at a different crossing along the Canadian border. It routes through several bay-front communities before connecting with USBRs 87 and 95 in Bellingham, then winds its way to Anacortes and down Whidbey Island, continually offering views out to the Salish Sea. USBR 97 is unique of the three routes because, in Bellingham, it routes to the ferry terminal, where you and your bike can take advantage of the Alaska Ferry to connect to Seward and continue riding along USBR 97 in Alaska.

All three of these newly designated routes in Washington will eventually connect further South to the Oregon border — and beyond.

Michigan

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.

The newly-constructed Berry Junction Trail will now be a part of USBR 35.

Virginia

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.

Riding the Virginia Capital Trail.

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, 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.

Comments

Post a Comment

Required Fields in Bold