U.S. Bike Route System: 10 Top Accomplishments of 2012

Ginny Sullivan is the U.S. Bicycle Routes coordinator at Adventure Cycling Association, a member of the America Bikes coalition. 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). Cross-posted from the Adventure Cycling Association blog

It's been another incredible year for Adventure Cycling Association and for our work on the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). I know it's already the middle of January, but let's take quick look back at 2012 accomplishments and then I'll give a sneak peek of all the great things to come in the new year.

1. Michigan's USBR 35 was designated and celebrated in a big way. Last May, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) held their Spring Meeting during which USBR 35 was officially designated. A grand opening event for USBR 35 was held near Traverse City. Kirk Steudle  director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (DOT) and president of AASHTO was on hand to conduct the ribbon cutting and later wrote a guest blog about why bicycling and U.S. Bicycle Routes are important to Michigan.

2. Two sections of Minnesota's USBR 45 were designated in 2012. Also known as the Mississippi River Trail, this 800-mile route is being designated in sections. The first section, the lower portion of the route, was designated in May and the upper section was designated in November. The third and final section, which intersects Minneapolis, is slated to be designated in May 2013.

3. AASHTO supports Adventure Cycling/USBRS. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is in charge of designated U.S. Highways and U.S. Bicycle Routes. This non-profit continues to provide support for our efforts and has contributed $15,000 over the past three years to aid our work with state DOTs and volunteers.

4. The annual USBRS Build it. Bike it. Be a Part of It. fundraiser raised more than $50,000. We met our highest goal yet! For the past three years, we've held a fundraiser during the month of May to gain financial support while creating larger public awareness of the USBRS. This year, we raised over $50,000 in both corporate and individual donations, many of which came from Adventure Cycling members. Thank you! This is a clear indicator that we are on the right track to making bicycle travel more accessible.

5. Adventure Cycling received a $20,000 DALMAC grant to sign USBR 20 accross Michigan. The Dick Allen Lansing to Makinaw Bicycle Tour (DALMAC) fund benefits local bicycle projects and programs. This year we applied in partnership with the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, for money to help purchase signs for a large portion of USBR 20 and succeeded in securing funds to sign the route! Presently we are working through the sign placements and agreements with the state and local agencies.

6.  Our work with National Parks and other federal land managers is on track. Incorporating National Parks and federal lands as part of the USBRS is an important goal for the system. Public lands are often scenic and provide great places to ride, camping accommodations, and more. In 2012, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis spoke at the National Bike Summit about bicycling's growing role in National Parks. Overall, our efforts to work collaboratively with the National Park Service and other federal land managers continues to gain ground.

7. Nebraska joins in planning, bringing us to 41 states involved in planning, implementation or promotion of the USBRS.

8. Michigan, Oregon, and Arizona are working on economic impact studies related to the development of the USBRS. Iowa released a similar study. Europe's recent economic impact study stated that 44 million Euros a year are generated as a result of bicycle tourism! While we can't claim direct responsibility for the economic impact of bicycling, we can say that there's been impetus from our work to promote bicycle tourism and the U.S. Bicycle Route System.

9. The USBRS has been the focus of many conferences and meetings. From Oklahoma City, OK to Harpers Ferry, WV and Long Beach, CA to Michigan, Adventure Cycling staff traveled the country this year, bringing information about the USBRS to various organizations and agencies.

10. Adventure Cycling creates a new department and brings on new staff to help USBRS efforts. Our work to make bicycle travel more accessible and to help build the USBRS inspired us to create new department, Travel Initiatives, and to bring in new staff to help us meet our ambitious goals.

Here a quick look ahead:

  • Missouri: We have an exciting announcement coming soon (Hint: it has to do with USBR 76/TransAmerica Trail)!
  • Best Practice Guide: We contracted with Toole Design Group to conduct surveys and case studies which will yield a status report and new tools and resources for implementing U.S. Bike Routes. The report should be out this spring.
  • New website: Our IT, graphic design, and media staff have been hard at work for a year to develop a new website and move content. This is no easy task but will make accessing information on our site so much better. Watch for the new site this spring.
  • Access to USBR maps: As the website goes up, we're committed to making it easier for cyclists to access information on Adventure Cycling routes and U.S. Bicycle Routes. For now, you can access information on these routes on
  • National Park Service: As we work together to promote bicycle travel and the USBRS, we hope to have some great news to share with everyone in 2013. Stay tuned! 
  • New USBR corridor under consideration: Another corridor, USBR 23, is under consideration for Kentucky and Tennessee. 
  • Applications for new USBRs: Several states are on track for AASHTO designation in May, including Minnesota, Oklahoma, Indiana, New Mexico, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Missouri. They might not all get there, but things have been progressing positively in all these states. Keep the positive vibes coming our way!

Photos: Top photo by John Williams, middle photos by Ginny Sullivan, sign photo by Scott Anderson, flag photo by Dennis Coello/BRAG, conference photo by Richard Moeur, bottom photo by Adventure Cycling Association.

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