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US Bicycle Routes Corridor Draft Plan Under Development

Usbike_corridor
Current draft bicycle routes corridor plan. Click to enlarge.

The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has been working with Adventure Cycling Association and several other organizations to develop a corridor-level plan for a national US bicycle routes system.

Attendees at the recent meeting of the AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways (SCOH) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin received an update on the status of the bicycle routes system project.  For the first phase, state and national bike routes and trails across the US were inventoried; now, the second phase is the drafting of the new corridor plan.

The goal of the plan is to develop recommended corridors (± 50 mile radius) where a route in a logical national system should exist.

The primary criteria for the corridor are:

  • Meet the planning, design, and operational criteria in the AASHTO Guide for Development of Bicycle Facilities. 

  • Access destinations and regions with high tourism potential, including routes that incorporate important scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational values.

  • Link major metropolitan areas in a reasonably direct manner to connect key attractions and transportation nodes.

  • Make natural connections between adjoining states, Canada, and Mexico when possible.

  • Have more or less even distribution, though route density will need to consider both population density and available, suitable roads.

  • Include major existing and planned bike routes, including both on-road facilities and off-road shared use paths suitable for road bikes.

Upon completion of the draft plan—which also includes the development of a logical system of designations for US bicycle routes—the plan will be reviewed by the Joint Technical Committee on Non-motorized Transportation, Subcommittee on Design, and Subcommittee on Traffic Engineering.

The final revised draft will then be reviewed by SCOH for endorsement as “an official corridor plan”.

Resources:

Comments

odograph

Cool! Makes me glad I'm a supporting member of the Adventure Cycling Association!

Rafael Seidl

Bicycles are great, I think all population centers should have a dense network of bicycle paths and lanes, with a 25mph speed limit. Ideally, their surface should have a different color (e.g. red) and there should be a curb or other speration to protect vulnerable bicycle and moped riders from motor vehicle traffic. This approach has long been standard in Holland and Denmark.

Where the terrain is hilly, people who don't want to overexert themselves now have the option of electric bikes. For a fairly hefty price tag, you can even get covered pedalectric trikes, e.g. the Aerorider.

But a coast-to-coast network of bicycle corridors in the US? Even the Aerorider is only designed for 25mph sustained. In a day, you can cover 200-300 miles, depending on daylight hours and your stamina. Only hard-core endurance athletes will be able to travel much further.

How many people actually want to spend days or weeks at a time in the saddle, on asphalt, in close proximity to fast-moving traffic on rural roads? It seems to me the infrastructure investment required to produce thousands of miles of bicycle paths should be targeted primarily at population centers, not the middle of nowhere.

Matthew

Holy crap, what a boondoggle!

It's bad enough that here on the north side of Atlanta we have zillions of bike lanes that never see a bicycle at all, but to extend this to a national network? Completely stupid.

I use a bike, and I rarely see a bike lane, but I never bike more then 5miles, aside for hardcore biking competitions I don't see anyone using these nation wide bike lanes. Cities need bike lanes, cross-country not so much!

odograph

It's a way to do a healthy and fun vacation, without the SUV (with roof bag for overflowing junk).

Go to the Adventure Cycling site (link in my first comment) and look at the folks who do it. They look happy and healthy don't they?

And they aren't clogging your (road) arteries as you try to get to work.

Patrick

I have not ridden my bike in over 2 years because of the lack of bicycle lanes.

I don't want to be one of those @ss h0les riding down the side walk without regard for pedestrians.

Not sure if I would use a "cross country" bicycle lane but having the option would sure get me interested in trying during the summer. Lightweight sleeping bag, a couple liters of water, and a few days worth of clothes. Then average a nice casual 13-15mph (mountain bike owner here) for 8 hours [not including time to stop for meals]. Hmmm, I'd need tools to just in case...maybe the load is starting to be too great for a cross-country bike trip.

odograph

If a rider is forced up on the sidewalk by traffic, that rider should not much exceed walking speed. And be ready to stop any time.

Not only that, it's one of the best ways to get killed (drivers don't expect bicyclists to cruise into driveways at x-times walking speed).

critta

Matthew, I can't comment on why nobody uses your cycle lanes. Maybe they are poorly separated from all the giant SUV's and people are scared to use them. Maybe the planners are to blame or you might need some cultural change away from choosing to drive for every little trip.

Separated cycle paths cost about $100,000 per km to construct and contribute to public health, air quality and general amenity. Freeways cost in the tens of millions per km to construct, add more pollution,contribute to obesity and will be stranded assets when peak oil hits home. You tell me which is the stupid option.

All power to the AASHTO for being willing to think beyond the cult of the car.

WVhybrid

A few notes:

* Most Bikecentennial, er, ah, Adventure Cycling routes are simply low traffic roads, with no lane markings. Of course, some of the newer routes follow off-road trails.

* Riding bicycles on sideways is illegal in many areas.

* Atlanta has a very active bicycling population, but not so many bicycle commuters, so the bike lanes are often empty during the endless commuting hours.

* Some of the intercity bike trails are busy. Good examples are the Allegheny Passage (Pittsburgh, PA, to Cumberland, MD), the southwest Ohio trails (Cincinnati, Dayton, Xenia, Yellow Springs), and the four El Roy-Sparta trails complex in Wisconsin (south-central Wisconsin to La Crosse)

* Setting design standards for bicycle facilities is not a boondoggle. A boondoggle is to build facilities that don't meet viable standards of signage, surface, sight distance, curvature, or width, so that the facilities don't get used or are used unsafely.

K

I don't see why bicycling shouldn't be made more practical with public moneys. They would produce much more benefit than these expenditures.

We find money for dog parks where pet owners can let their dogs frolic off leash. Not a bad thing but not exactly crucial to our democracy.

We find money for showcase public libraries which become bigger and emptier at the same time. Meanwhile their former patrons watch TV or find information on the internet. The budgets never fall.

Dblodgett

Having recently visited the Netherlands for a cross country bike trek, I say here here and 'bout time! Bicycle touring is good stuff. Brings you closer to the land, makes you feel human, and is a really humbling fun experience as compared to 80mph on the endless straightaways of freeway boredom.

Bicycle touring is reserved to the hardcore highly motivated cyclist in the US. A system like this would bring it to the masses and would be a real change in the right direction!

Patrick

How big is the Netherlands? I would say Pennsylvania is probably larger(I don't feel like looking it up right now). You should equate this national system to being similar to bicycle touring from the Netherlands down to Spain as the US is much larger than Europe.

K - libraries are quite well used here in the Seattle area. They even have 1 hour of free internet/computer time available on computer terminals in the library but I like to walk over to the libraries with my kids so they can pick up reading material. Whether we are there when it first opens, middle of the day, or when it is closing; there are typically quite a few patrons using the library (and every city in King County has their own library [and sometimes multiple branches] so it is not as if everyone from the county were invading a single library.

K

Patrick: IMO public libraries are the tombs of tomorrow. I am not sure they were ever a good idea. But whatever the social merits, there was no doubt libraries were resources for research.

Today they are an example of inertia, tombs. Sure some people use them, habits and behaviors change slowly. There are always people happy when others are taxed to pay for their pleasures and preferences.

But it doesn't matter. Like anything in a government budget they continue forever. If it exists it must be funded, and if we fund it it will exist.


Patrick

...we need an "off-topic" section to continue this discussion of libraries, because I completely disagree with your opinions.

I also looked up the size of the Netherlands after all and found it to be 1/2 the size of Pennsylvania and closer to the size of Ohio. A national system of bike routes would work great if our country were the size of Ohio. Given the size of our country I think we should concentrate on having biking corridors from suburbs to cities and from the cities/suburbs to national parks. Connecting major metro areas from one state to the next is a bit too lofty at this point (just imagine riding a bicycle from Los Angeles to Phoenix - fun? maybe, but that desert will be brutal).

K

Patrick: Nothing to discuss about libraries. People often see things differently.

Remember I endorsed the bike paths. The story wasn't about federal funding for them. But that will be next, just as the sun will rise tomorrow. And paths would hardly be a bigger waste of money than a lot of other spending even if no one ever rode one.

The paths might be quite a good thing. It is very hard to predict what people will try and like and stick at. In the 1970s there was a madness for tennis. The growth was such that the number of players would have passed a billion within three years. Unborn children were being enrolled in tennis clinics.

We were saved from a tennis ball drought. The mania became ten-speed bikes which were soon trashed by the millions when mountain bikes were found to be vital to our citizens.

(I'm getting old. Maybe the ten-speeds came before the tennis rackets.) No matter.

We would disagree about a lot. Generally I think the past is a good thing to get rid of. I don't see any point in preserving old houses or old sewage plants as historic. I don't give a damn if some Jimmy X who is is said to have played drums with Miles Davis for seven days is honored at city hall.

Razing the Smithsonian seems like a good place to start. It is full of interesting things which correspond roughly with the bones of old saints displayed in cathedrals. The main difference is the curators are not priests so they make more money.

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