Two new U.S. Bicycle Routes have been approved in Michigan and Minnesota as part of a growing network of bicycle-friendly routes that span the nation.
The Adventure Cycling Association and the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) have announced that AASHTO’s Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering has approved U.S. Bicycle Route (USBR) 35 in Michigan, USBR 45 in Minnesota, and realignments for USBR 1 in North Carolina.
Last year, AASHTO approved six U.S. Bicycle Routes in its annual May meeting. AASHTO and Adventure Cycling welcome this spring’s two new route approvals as another important step toward creating an official U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS).
Development of Michigan’s USBR 35 and Minnesota’s USBR 45 began soon after AASHTO’s Board of Directors approved the U.S. Bicycle Route System’s National Corridor Plan in October 2008. The National Corridor Plan is the template for planning interstate bicycle routes across the country.
Michigan’s U.S. Bicycle Route 35
Michigan’s U.S. Bicycle Route 35 runs nearly 500 miles from New Buffalo, Michigan, (on the border with Indiana) to Sault Ste Marie, Canada. Comprised of state highways, county and local roads, and regionally significant multi-use trails, USBR 35 passes through dozens of small lakefront towns, past sandy beaches, scenic and historic destinations, as well as services and cultural attractions such as Traverse City, the nation’s "Cherry Capital."
Other notable attractions along the route include the Mackinaw Bridge, Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Holland (the "tulip city"), and South Haven (the "blueberry capital"), which will allow bicyclists to experience endless summer festivals where communities large and small celebrate farm-fresh produce, as well as local heritage and culture. Once complete, USBR 35 will continue south through Indiana and down to Mississippi.
Minnesota’s U.S. Bicycle Route 45
U.S. Bicycle Route 45 in southeastern Minnesota extends 148 miles from just south of the Twin Cities Metro area in Hastings to the Iowa border. Also known as the Mississippi Bluffs segment of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), this route includes bicycle-friendly roads and multi-use paths that closely follow the Mississippi River through steep limestone bluffs and hardwood forests, with long river vistas and wildlife viewing.
The route passes through three state parks, the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge and more than a dozen river towns boasting historic main streets, riverboats, museums and bicycle-friendly hospitality. Highlights include Lake City, the birthplace of waterskiing, and Wabasha, home of the National Eagle Center. This segment is Minnesota’s first designated U.S. Bicycle Route.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has plans to designate the entire 800-mile MRT through Minnesota as part of USBR 45. This includes six distinct Mississippi River regions from the headwaters at Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota through the Twin Cities Metro area. Once complete, USBR 45 will continue south along the Mississippi River to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Having Minnesota’s first portion of the MRT designated as a U.S. Bicycle Route will help ensure that the entire, 3,000-mile MRT continues to develop in other states and sets up more opportunities for collaboration between agencies." Adventure Cycling provides technical assistance to states working on route implementation.
North Carolina’s U.S. Bicycle Route 1 Realignments
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), through the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, submitted an application to AASHTO for two sections of proposed realignment on the existing U.S. Bicycle Route 1, which was originally designated in 1982.
USBR 1 runs north and south through North Carolina from the Virginia to South Carolina. The first realignment re-directs the route away from Raleigh-Durham Airport and now passes through Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC. The second realignment avoids conflicts with I-74/US-74 in Scotland County and now passes through Laurinburg. AASHTO approved the realignments.
The U.S. Bicycle Route System is an emerging national network of bicycle routes that span multiple states and are of national and regional significance. These routes will serve as visible and well-planned trunk lines for connecting city, regional, and statewide cycling routes, and provide transportation and tourism opportunities across the country.
When complete, the U.S. Bicycle Route System will be the largest official bike route network on the planet, encompassing more than 50,000 miles of routes. Learn more at www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs.Tweet Print