Cyclists Rejoice! U.S. Bicycle Route System in the Works

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.

Ayesha Zahid I've lived in Pakistan and I've lived in America. Seeing two extremes makes me so much more of a writer than I could ever be. And spreading that is the most important thing to me right now.

View all posts by Ayesha Zahid

5 Responses to “Cyclists Rejoice! U.S. Bicycle Route System in the Works”

  1. Angela Stefano

    As cool as this idea is, I think we need to work on making all cities more bike friendly before we work on cross-country routes.

    Reply
  2. Ayesha

    “I love the idea! It has worked for Europe thus far,” says hopeful Vanessa Moreno*, 21, of San Diego.

    (name spelling correction)

    Reply
  3. Krystal Danielle Luna

    I agree with Angela. If I were to ride my bike in the city right now, I would run the risk of getting hit by a car because there is no where else for me. I love the idea of bike friendly cities :)

    Reply
  4. Ted

    “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.”

    None of that is remotely true. Cyclists travel on regular roads and highways all the time, and have the legal right to do so in every state. Drivers can and almost always do see cyclists. I am completely and strongly in favor of a separated system of paths; I’m currently in the Netherlands, where all bikeways are on separated facilities, and I can tell you for certain that that is the key to getting more people to ride bikes. But drivers have NO EXCUSE for “not seeing” and hitting cyclists on the road. Your description makes it sound like it’s impossible not to hit a cyclist.

    Also, a cross-country bike route has nothing to do with Lance Armstrong or the tour de france. Bicycle racing and bicycle tour are as different as NASCAR and car camping. There is no meaningful comparison. The point of building a system like this is not to “compete with the tour de france.”

    Reply
  5. Ginny Sullivan

    Ayesha, Thanks for covering the emerging US Bike Route System. Ted is right, cyclists have been using and have the right to use the roads for cross country adventures.

    Adventure Cycling Association, a non-profit organization that is providing technical assistance for the system has been mapping bike routes since the early 70′s – and we have 40,000 miles in our network. The reason the U.S. Bike Route System is important is that transportation agencies and community governments will now recognize and support these interstate bike routes so they can improve the roads (adding shoulders or bike lanes) and link in trails whenever possible.

    And while building city networks is important, linking these networks regionally (through suburbs) and across state lines creates a true transportation system, providing choices for all types of riding – whether for commuting or recreation.

    Again, thanks for your post. If anyone has any questions about the project, visit http://www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs.

    Reply

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