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US Bicycle Routes Corridor Draft Plan Under Development

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”.




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.


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!


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


...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).


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.


B!tching about bicycles? Sad.


I don't know what to say. This is just ridiculous...


I'm a bike lover I was once told I would never be able to ride a bike due to a disability. I learned to ride in High School and really enjoy being out on two wheels.

I would love to see more people out riding, but an interstate bike system would be a poor use of money. Spend the money in the cities not going between them. Short trips are where cars get most of their use anyway. We'd have a healthier populace, a better environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil all with one thing.

If were going to be adding to the interstate system use that money to kick start a national high speed rail system. I know it wont pay for everything but it would be a start.

Peter W

This is a great idea. I think we need a network of routes between cities for the same reason we need highways and trains between cities - because people often travel between cities. I bike daily in Portland but can't easily get to cities on the Oregon coast or up to Seattle because I don't have a car.

Of course, it probably makes more sense to first fund bike networks inside cities, and high speed rail between them, but at least with the plan in place the roads can be adjusted to accomodate bikes in parallel with maintenance and reconstruction.


Used to bicycle lots tho I never learned till too late how to bicycle efficiently. But I ultimately stopped riding because of the huge increase in car traffic, sciatic nerve attacks & now arthritis. Just got an electric bicycle(traffic is even heavier now). With greater electric bicycle range(I'm working on it), dedicated bike thorough-fares would be wonderful to hardcore bicyclists & health ailing people on electric bikes like me.


K — I'm glad you visited the Netherlands.  The social development of that country is way ahead of the United States in some critical aspects, such as bicycling.  Most of our problems are due to excessive scale.

Meanwhile, the more appropriate word for some of the current discussion is Neanderthal.  That's what you're essentially dealing with in the ridiculous statements against public libraries.


knappster: It is surprising to see another comment on the topic.

But I stand by my remarks about public libraries. They seem to me to be unneeded today. Without doubt they will continue to exist in much the same way for a very long time. That is the nature of public funding.

The endorsement of library users does not concern me. There are always people who want a service they use to continue at no cost to them.

The bike trails initiative is a proposal. The article was not about public funding for it.

But if such funding comes about it will be as sensible as keeping billions of old books on shelves. By all means let us continue as we are so that perhaps a million civil servants can experience the warm feeling that they bring knowledge and enlightment to their communities.

It is not that I dislike libraries more that some other activities. It is that I believe they are not worth the cost. Others do.

That may infuriate some people. Too bad!

fred schumacher

We have a web of interstate highways that criss-cross the country, however, when one gets on an interstate highway, that does not necessarily mean they are now obligated to go drive from one end of the country to the other.

A network can be entered or exited at any point. The ride can be as long or short as desired. Except in the east and west coast megalopoli, cities do tend to be separated by rural areas. A network of bike-friendly roads across the U.S. will need to be primarily in rural areas. There can also be sharing. Here in northern Minnesota hikers and bikers in summer use the same trails used by snowmobiles in winter.

H. W. Tilman, the great British explorer and mountain climber once said that the only way to travel is on foot. Everything else is just being transported. A bicycle is the next best thing.

Larry Lagarde

The USA has an incredible network of high speed interstate highways as well as secondary highways. US taxpayers pay for all these highways but, besides long haul truck drivers, how many taxpayers actually cross the USA by car?

I agree that we should concentrate first on making cities safer for bicyclists; however, it also makes sense to plan and implement a national bike route system. Even though very few will cross the USA on a bicycle, creating a national bike route network is still cost effective because it will help reverse the obesity epidemic while spurring tourism and new jobs.

Kerry Irons

Just to clear up a WHOLE bunch of misinformation and misconceptions about the proposed US Bike Route system. First, there is no plan for a national network of bike paths - the routes would use mostly existing roads, with existing trails integrated as appropriate. The AASHTO project is to develop a corridor plan, a corridor is a +/- 50 mile "window" within which states will define the roads and trails that serve to provide pleasant cycling routes (see: States may choose to put signs along these routes, they may issue maps of the routes, they may highlight the routes on their state highway maps, etc. so the investment to implement the corridor plan will depend on state level decisions, and can be quite small. Who would use such a system? The answer is "many thousands of people." Adventure Cycling already has over 36,000 miles of mapped routes in the US which are used by thousands of people every year in trips that last days, weeks, or months. This is not about utility cycling (commuting, shopping, etc.) in cities, it is about bicycle tourism where people cover 50-90 miles per day on low traffic routes - one does not have to be a "hard core athlete" to do and enjoy this. Europe already has a continent level bike route system (EuroVelo:, as does the province of Quebec (Route Verte: Many states already have their own bike route systems, and one of the goals of the national network is to knit them together into a larger fabric. If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me (kirons (at) adventurecycling (dot) org
) or Ginny Sullivan (gsullivan (at) adventurecycling (dot) org).

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