Designating Route 66 as a US Bike Route
- What is the U.S. Bike Route System (USBRS)?
The U.S. Bike Route System is a proposed national network of bicycle routes that span multiple states and are of national and regional significance. These routes are nominated for designation by State Department of Transportation (DOTs), and designated and catalogued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
- What is AASHTO?
AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It represents all five transportation modes: air, highways, public transportation, rail, and water. Its primary goal is to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system. AASHTO advocates transportation-related policies and provides technical services to support states in their efforts to efficiently and safely move people and goods. Much of AASHTO’s work is done by committees comprised of member department personnel who serve voluntarily. The Association provides a forum for consideration of transportation issues and is frequently called upon by Congress to conduct surveys, provide data, and testify on transportation legislation. Through AASHTO’s policy development activities, member departments often address federal programs and provide guidance.
- What is the US Bike Route Corridor Plan?
Approved by AASHTO in 2008, the US Bike Route Corridor Plan is a working document that establishes feasible bike corridors across the United States. The corridors are 50-mile wide swaths that suggest where a route should or could be developed. Corridors link key destinations, urban centers, and take into account the natural landscape. Routes within the corridor must connect two or more states, or a state to an international border, or connect other US Bicycle Routes.
- Why choose Route 66 as a bike route?
Route 66 was included in the US Bike Route System Corridor Plan because it met corridor criteria. It is a large tourism draw for American and International visitors, and provides a quality touring experience that first drew motorists to the west 85 years ago.
- What does designation mean?
Designation of a route means that it is officially recognized with a route number and may be signed or marked appropriately.
- What are the advantages of having a U.S. Bicycle Route through your area?
There are many advantages to having a US Bicycle Route through your community. Bicycling is a cleaner, less taxing mode of transportation. Bicyclists spend more time in a community and generally require more services such as lodging and food, economically impacting a town. A specially designated route may provide additional consideration when competing for grants. A bicycle route introduces community members to an affordable healthy lifestyle. Businesses wishing to relocate look at factors such as quality of life and health of a population in determining new work locations. Having hiking/bike trails or any recreational facilities indicate a high quality of life.
- What if the proposed US Bike Route 66 does not receive official designation due to lack of support from Oklahoma?
Regardless of Route 66 being designated as a US Bike Route, it will be mapped and included on the Adventure Cycling Route 66 Map. Bicyclists are already riding Route 66, and with a new map numbers will significantly increase. This is an opportunity for communities and other stakeholders to define the best route through their area and to publicize their services and tourism opportunities.
- Is there really a demand for cross country bike routes?
Bicycle touring is increasing in the United States and around the world as evidenced by an increase in bike tour companies, bike map sales, and multi-day sponsored rides like Oklahoma Freewheel. Not only are Americans enjoying a new way to see the USA, international cyclists are on the increase finding Route 66 travel as a prime destination.
- What governing agency oversees or maintains the route, and provides infrastructure like signing?
Oklahoma Department of Transportation is responsible for generally oversight. However, a local or county agency may have maintenance responsibilities depending upon what road or trails that route uses, and agreements, if any, are in place with the state of Oklahoma. However, having a route designated as a US Bike Route does not mandate route improvements or enhanced infrastructure for bicyclists.
- What funding is available to support a bike route?
There is no dedicated funding from the federal government for the US Bike Route System. In the past there have been several federal grant or funding initiatives that might help cover maintenance or new infrastructure costs. Those were: Section 402, Highway Safety Grants; Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP); and Congestion Mitigation and Air-Quality Improvement Plan (CMAQ). All three programs are funded through the federal SAFETEA-LU Act and may be reduced or eliminated in the future.
- Where has designated official routes been successful?
United Kingdom (National Cycle Network) and Canada (Quebec’s La Route Verte) lead the way in having extensive bicycling networks. The United Kingdom has more than 12,000 miles of connected bike routes and trails with nearly 75% of the population being within two miles of a route. Yearly trips have grown from 85 million in 2000 to 386 million in 2008. Quebec, Canada’s 2,400 mile network generates nearly $160 million annually in economic returns. Although the network supports cross providence travel, it also serves every-day cyclists connecting suburban to urban areas. In both countries, a combination of private and public funding has made the biking networks possible.
- Does Texas or Kansas DOT have to submit an application at the same time as Oklahoma?
No, but there must be an agreement between Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas that they endorse the route as it connects into their respective state. The endorsement indicates that the neighboring state will implement the route across their state at some point in the future.
- What is Adventure Cycling Association?
Adventure Cycling Association is the leading bicycle travel organization in North America with nearly 44,000 members. A nonprofit organization, its mission is to inspire people of all ages to travel by bicycle. They help cyclists explore the landscapes and history of America for fitness, fun, and self-discovery through the production of routes and maps; by providing educational tours, and trip planning resources and forums.
- What kind of person rides across the country on a bicycle?
Bicycle tourists have the same characteristics as motorists and are usually motorists themselves, coming in all ages, economic backgrounds, and political beliefs. The difference is that people who travel by bicycle want a more intimate interaction with local citizens, the historical and natural features, and the environment while getting physical exercise. We tend to be goal-oriented but with more of a focus on the journey. Some riders choose to go as cheaply as possible, cooking their own meals, and camping along the way. Others do a credit card ride (eating meals at restaurants and staying in motels.) All require food and some level of lodging (campsite to motel, hostel, or Bed and Breakfast.) International riders are common, and they especially enjoy Route 66 and the scenic west. There are more international bike tourists riding Route 66 than riding any other multi-state routes. Although touring cyclists have all levels of experience, usually most are seasoned riding in poor weather, roads without shoulders, and uneven surfaces.
(Information taken from Adventure Cycling, Route 66 Economic Impact Study, and Bicycle Tourism as a Rural Economic Development Vehicle) Also visit: http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/nbrn/usbikewaysystem.cfm