Biking is getting a lot more popular these days, as gas prices soar, and Americans become (little by little) more conscious of environmentally-friendly modes of transportation.
The League of American Bicyclists dug up some figures and found out the number of cyclists went up by 35% between 2005 and 2009. After all, Aisha Rodriguez, 21, of South Texas says, “If gas prices continue to rise, I wouldn’t doubt cycling would become popular.” It’s now 2011 and there are more and more cyclists on the road – so many, in fact, that the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) decided to try to campaign for a U.S. Bicycle Route System.
The campaign took off almost immediately. Cyclists can’t travel on regular roads and highways because of the dangers involved, of course. It’s extremely hard to see a cyclist when driving a car because your eyes are accustomed to looking for larger vehicles. The aerodynamics of a bike hide the cyclist from your vision and in the case of most accidents, the driver doesn’t realize the danger the cyclist is in.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that ACA raised over $31,000 for the Route System, with $5,000 coming from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials itself, which has been working with the ACA for about six years.
While building is underway, other measures will need to be implemented. Gabriel Rivera, 20, a student studying car mechanics in South Texas, believes, “[A national bike route system] will flop without driver knowledge on how to treat the cyclists, and cyclists being taught to respect cars on the road. How can we expect them to properly map out a trail without causing more problems for travelers?”
Now, there are 30 states working on implementing the U.S. Bicycle Routes. For the first time in thirty years, AASHTO has approved the first new routes, which is especially great news for cyclists looking for adventure around the Maine, New Hampshire, Alaska and Michigan areas.
Speaking of individual states, Wisconsin is already considering letting the USBR 30 cut through Baraboo, so that it would be more accessible to cyclists within the city. Now that seems like a good thought – a refreshing stop for those traveling cross-country through the U.S. Bicycle Routes.
The thought is still an iffy venture for 19-year-old North Texas native Angie Hernandez, who says, “I doubt all of America will be saddling up for a bike ride across America from Texas to Massachusetts. We’re not all Lance Armstrongs, no matter how hard we wish to be.”
That being said, it’s probably going to be a while before we can compete with Tour de France, but the idea is compelling.
“I love the idea! It has worked for Europe thus far,” says hopeful Vanessa Moreno, 21, of San Diego.
If you want to follow the conversation about the routes, especially individual cyclists’ experiences and thoughts regarding the developments, you can do so at the U.S Bicycle Route Systems’ Facebook page.
About time two-wheeled vehicles got a lot more national recognition, don’t you think?
Photos drinksmachine, shadey_shades, and sharky2004.