July 19, 2017 - Our thanks to Lexa Muehlbauer from the Hamilton County Visitor's Bureau for contributing this guest post.
What better way to celebrate summer than to ride Indiana’s U.S. Bicycle Route 35 (USBR 35)? This north-south route stretches 360 miles from Lake Michigan to Louisville, Kentucky, and takes cyclists on the iconic Cultural Trail through Indianapolis. Whether bicycle touring the whole route or just going out for the weekend, cyclists who ride the route’s paved roadways will experience the hospitality and rural scenery of the Midwest.
Take a detour into Carmel’s Arts and Design District in Hamilton County to explore the art of an urban area. Or ride along the Erie Trail with breathtaking views of the Kankakee River in Starke County. Cyclists will pass through welcoming communities filled with amenities, local restaurants, and historical attractions that make for a unique traveling excursion.
Thanks to a new tourism project led by Hamilton County, in collaboration with 14 other counties, cyclists now have access to new information and resources for riding USBR 35. A new website dedicated to the route, indianausbr35.com, features wayfinding resources like a z-fold map and cue sheets, as well as showcasing amenities available in each county along the route.
There are also promotional resources like a rack card, fact sheet, and hospitality program how-to. These materials were created to make a cyclist’s travel experience easy, safe, and fun, while also educating the public on a national movement to make travel by bike simpler and more attractive.
Richard Vonnegut, Vice Chairman for Hoosier Rails to Trails Council, envisioned Indiana’s first U.S. Bicycle Route and initiated the effort in 2012, working with Adventure Cycling Association, local governments, volunteers, and trail owners to develop this 360-mile bike route and get it approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
Once USBR 35 became official in 2015, Richard collaborated with Hamilton County Tourism (HCT) for a grant through the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. The USBR 35 project was awarded $20,000 for its marketing efforts and HCT gladly accepted the challenge of creating the first pilot project for a U.S. Bicycle Route.
Indiana hopes to draw more cycling tourists and make the state a more bike-friendly destination. To promote the route statewide, a media plan with press release templates and social media suggestions will be given to the other 14 counties, and if successful, the project will be adapted for U.S. Bicycle Routes 36 and 50 in Indiana.
Through this project, trails and tourism combine in a way that highlights the charming personalities of small towns along the route. Indiana invites cyclists of all ages and levels to immerse themselves in the Midwest culture and help make USBR 35 part of a national conversation. Enjoy your ride on USBR 35!
Lexa Muehlbauer has a love for all things travel and enjoyed learning all about destination marketing as the Community Development & PR Intern at Hamilton County Tourism. After graduating from Butler University in May, Lexa hopes to take her blogging skills on the road as she spends four months volunteer teaching in Spain.
Top photo courtesy of Visit Indiana | Photo 2 courtesy of Hamilton County Tourism | Photo 3 courtesy of LaPorte County CVB | Logo by Wilkinson Brothers
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.