U.S. Bicycle Route System includes Midwest trails
In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower had a vision of a national system of highways (now known as the Interstate) connecting all major cities with limited access roads. Now we have nearly 50,000 miles of Interstate roads and about a third of all miles driven are on that system.
Today there's a vision of another kind of interstate system. This one involves bicycles. Think about getting on your bicycle in New York City and following a designated bike route all the way to Los Angeles. Or starting on the Canadian border north of Fargo, North Dakota, and ending on the Mexican border in McAllen, Texas.
The plan is on the drawing board right now. Coordinated by Adventure Cycling Association and funded by grants from a number of foundations and cycling businesses, the U.S. Bicycle Route System is being developed across the country. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is assigning route numbers now.
In the Midwest, key routes on the Bike Interstate include Route 10, which goes from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to Seattle, Washington; Route 17, from the upper peninsula of Michigan to Chicago along the Lake Michigan shore; Route 20, which spans Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, crossing Lake Michigan via the S.S. Badger ferry, to Portland, Oregon; and Route 30, which stretches from Milwaukee to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and goes through Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Billings, Montana. to the west, and across Lake Michigan by ferry to Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, to the east.
Many of these routes follow existing bicycle facilities. For example, Route 30 in Wisconsin links up more than 200 miles of state trails (the La Crosse River, Elroy-Sparta, 400, Southwest Commuter, Capital City, Glacial Drumlin and Hank Aaron trails) along with other bicycle facilities along the way between La Crosse and Milwaukee. This will be the location of a new cross-state bicycle event, Bike The Blast, July 8-13.
This might have been what visionary author H.G. Wells was thinking when in 1905 he wrote, "Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia."
For full information on the U.S. Bike Route System, go to www.adventurecycling.org/routes/usbrs. For information on the Wisconsin event: www.biketheblast.com.
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