Arkansas has joined the U.S. Bicycle Route System or USBRS with the designation of its first U.S. Bicycle Route, while Tennessee has designated a second route, according to the Adventure Cycling Association.
[Above photo by Arkansas DOT]
Those new routes – along with the realignment of routes in Minnesota, New York, and Ohio – add more than 425 miles to the USBRS; a developing national network of officially designated, numbered, and signed routes that use existing roads, trails, and other facilities appropriate for bike travel.
State departments of transportation develop bicycle routes, which the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials then officially designates within the USBRS. In February 2021, AASHTO and Adventure Cycling signed a memorandum of understanding or MOU to formalize their now 17-year partnership to create a national 50,000-mile bicycle route network.
Twice each year, AASHTO’s U.S. Route Numbering Special Committee reviews and recommends to the AASHTO Board of Directors a number of revisions, additions, or deletions to the U.S. numbered routes and Interstate Highway System.
The special committee also reviews and recommends the approval of new and revised U.S. bicycle routes that are critical to the expansion of the U.S. Bicycle Route System or USBRS.
In addition, AASHTO’s Committee on Planning works with Adventure Cycling to maintain and update the broader USBRS National Corridor Plan that identifies corridors for future bike routes.
The USBRS is a cornerstone of Adventure Cycling’s work as a national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring, empowering and connecting people to bicycle travel.
With the new designations and realignments noted above, the USBRS now boasts 18,953 miles of routes in 34 states and Washington, D.C., with at least 38 states currently developing additional bicycle routes as well.
“This round of designations marks exciting progress for this project,” said Jennifer O’Dell, executive director of Adventure Cycling, in a statement. “I’m particularly excited to see a first-time designation for Arkansas, a state I called home for many years.”
The first Arkansas bicycle route is also the first segment of USBR 80 designated in the country, she added, with the new route traveling from the Mississippi River on the Tennessee border to the Arkansas River at Little Rock, through rural areas and historical downtowns of the Arkansas Delta.
Meanwhile, USBR 21 in Tennessee begins in the Cumberland Gap on the Kentucky border and continues through the Tennessee River Valley to Chattanooga and the Georgia border, linking Cleveland to Atlanta.
The realignment of routes through Minnesota, New York, and Ohio occurred following feedback from cyclists and local communities, as well as the completion of infrastructure improvements and other projects.
“Milestones matter, and the fact the USBRS is closing in on the 19,000-mile mark speaks to the successful collaboration between AASHTO and our partners at Adventure Cycling,” noted Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director.
“State departments of transportation are focused on delivering a safe, multimodal transportation system that offers mobility for all, and opening new routes in new states like Arkansas, which joins the USBRS this year, shows this partnership’s commitment to do just that,” he said.