Meet Laura Crawford: U.S. Bicycle Route System Coordinator

August 16, 2017

Adventure Cycling is excited to announce that we’ve hired Laura Crawford to coordinate the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). You might already know Laura from The Path Less Pedaled, a business she runs with her partner, Russ Roca. Laura is completing some projects for the business and begins the big move from Portland, Oregon to Montana this month.

Laura has worked to develop bicycle tourism nationally for the last eight years, particularly in rural areas, and has often collaborated with Adventure Cycling on joint projects and presentations. She is eager to use her experience and skills to continue building this officially signed and numbered, 50,000-mile network of bicycle routes across the U.S. — and take it to the next level.

Laura, why did you take the job as coordinator of the USBRS?

Because, right now, this is my definition of #livingthedream: working with people I respect, at an organization I have loved for years, in support of a project with such incredible potential for this country, in a way that builds on everything I have done and learned.

You were an integral part of the Path Less Pedaled (PLP). Tell us how you started and what prompted you to travel by bike in the first place?

Russ and I started The Path Less Pedaled in 2009 as a travel blog when we sold everything to travel by bike. We had fallen in love with bike touring over the years before that decision — and a fateful trip through Joshua Tree that spring convinced us that we wanted nothing more than to drop everything and travel. Through our three years of travel, we began to see the ways that touring cyclists can positively impact small and rural communities. This became the basis for all our client and advocacy work in the years that followed. 

What are three important things you learned during your tenure at PLP that will benefit the USBRS?

Patience + Flexibility Throughout our travels, and again in running a small business, I’ve learned that things often do not go as planned, and it’s important to roll with it rather than being hung-up on expectations. The USBRS is an enormous project that will require time and cooperation, and the ability to creatively (and patiently) work through road blocks.

Communication + Transparency If traveling with my partner for three years didn’t teach me the value of clear communication, then relaying a lot of complicated logistics to various clients definitely did. I’ve learned that people come to their own conclusions if you’re not open with them, and it’s important to maintain clear lines of communication in order to keep a project moving forward — both of which I think will benefit the coalition building that is crucial to the success of the USBRS.

Understanding Risk In both travel and small business ownership, there is an inherent amount of risk, and I’ve learned to not only tolerate risk, but to judge what risks are worth it. I think it will require a certain amount of risk tolerance for the USBRS to grow and innovate, and it will also require the ability to step back and make sure that it’s the right kind of risk.

Tell us what you look forward to most in your new role?

I’m looking forward to taking everything I’ve learned over the past eight years of working in bicycle tourism and applying it to the growth and success of the USBRS. I’m also really looking forward to working with people across the U.S. who are building bike routes and supporting bike tourism in their communities. 

What are your goals for the USBRS?

I’m excited for the USBRS and its potential as a fully connected and functional network. My primary goals are to: 1) increase the visibility and support for the USBRS, so it can become that complete network, and 2) to make sure that everyone who’s involved in the project has the connections and the tools they need to create the best possible routes.

What’s happening to PLP now that you are taking on this role for Adventure Cycling? 

Russ and I have run The Path Less Pedaled for over eight years (!). That’s a long time to maintain the same focus in the same way. The Path Less Pedaled is not going away, but it’s important to change things up every so often and keep growing and learning. 

What are you most looking forward to doing in Missoula?

The only thing I enjoy more than cycling is fly fishing, and Missoula is smack in the middle of some of the best trout waters in the U.S. I’m also looking forward to living in a smaller community, where it’s easier to find quiet places to recreate. 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve carried while on bike tour? 

When we first set off on our travels, I carried a complete metalworking kit, for making jewelry and bicycle head tube badges on the road. We used to joke that I literally carried a bag of hammers. 

What is the best thing you’ve eaten while on bike tour?

When we were in Texas, we chose our route based on the best, and most quintessential, BBQ joints. I still remember standing in line at Smitty’s in Lockhart in a dark brick hallway covered with 100+ years of BBQ smoke. 

Welcome, Laura! It’s great to have you on the Adventure Cycling team! 

Photos by Russ Roca and The Path Less Pedaled

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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

Clinton bows

If she does half as well at ACA as she does with PLP, you guys made the right decision.

August 16, 2017, 7:43 AM
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Alison

This is so awesome! Congrats, ACA & Laura!

August 16, 2017, 9:32 AM
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Thomas Batty

I'm not sure who I should congratulate, Laura for getting this job, or the ACA for getting Laura! Super exciting news, but Laura will be missed in Oregon!

August 16, 2017, 10:12 AM
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Thomas Martens

Congratulations ACA. Awesome choice! Laura will be outstanding.

August 16, 2017, 1:11 PM
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Regina Phillips

Laura,

We are the Horseshoe Leadership Center in Parsons, West Virginia. We are working toward a goal of making our facilities year round serving cyclists to the area. We need help! Please connect with me and provide me with some information in finding group touring cyclists that are looking for lodging and accommodations. I will be happy to share photo graphs and costs for group outings here in Tucker County, West Virginia and our facility. Regina Phillips, Director Horseshoe Leadership Center.

August 16, 2017, 1:43 PM
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Ginny Sullivan

Hi Regina,

We'd be happy to help you get set up. I will be in Morgantown WV for the WV Bike Summit on Sept 24 & 25, will you be attending? If not, call our offices and speak to Saara or myself and we can set you up! 406-721-1776. Cheers!

September 13, 2017, 8:34 AM
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Jeff Ingram

Super! If you ever feel like riding #42 or #45 in Minnesota, I'd be willing to host and join. Believe it or not, there is fly fishing on both routes...

August 16, 2017, 8:48 PM
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Robin Knowlton

Laura is fantastic! I hope you'll remember your bike friends in Lodi, CA and bring the route through Lodi wine country. Best of luck!

August 17, 2017, 2:13 PM
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Duane Jakey

So Happy for both You and Russ, Keep up the good work, Tight Lines!

August 18, 2017, 10:12 AM
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Chris Streight

Congrats Laura!

August 21, 2017, 5:50 PM
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