Adventure Cycling Association has thrown all their weight into building one of the world’s largest bicycle networks in the world — the US Bicycle Route System (USBRS).
The Montana-based organization is asking for support of their: Build it. Bike it. Be apart of it. Campaign. The fundraiser is aimed at generating $20,000 for the cycling network through National Bike Month from May 3-31.
The Adventure Cycling Association has been working on the structure details of the USBRS for four years. The cycling system proposes a series of well-marked and signed cycling routes that are a combination of road, trails and paths. The network will allow cyclist to ride their bikes across the country and between states.
The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials [AASHTO] is the lead non-profit organization that supports each of the Departments of Transportation (DOT) along the USBRS’s proposed routes. It approved a Draft Corridor Plan in October 2008, a sketch of 80-kilometre wide corridors that are assigned route numbers and were recommended by a working task force. The corridors link key destinations and urban centers.
The fundraiser will help Adventure Cycling Association continue to provide technical assistance, coordination, and cartographic services to the states that are actively working on the USBRS and those that will transform the selected national corridors into interstate bicycle routes. The fundraiser has generated more than $13,000 since it kicked off on 3 May.
According to Winona Bateman and Ginny Sullivan of the Adventure Cycling Association, more than 1800 individuals have supported the USBRS and during the campaign more than nine major businesses and organizations have donated. Furthermore, Adventure Cycling Association’s work on the USBRS has been supported by grants from Bikes Belong at $40,000, Education Foundation of America at $70,000, Lazar Foundation at $40,000, SRAM Cycling Fund at $30,000 and the Surdna Foundation at $15,000.
“Costs will be very low, as one of the goals is to use as much existing infrastructure as possible,” Bateman said. “However, costs will vary depending on the nature of the corridor being implemented and how the state intends to promote it.”
According to Bateman, the costs to build the USBRS include planning, route selection and coordination with road and government entities. The State DOTs are relying on volunteers such as bicycle and trail groups or transportation experts to do the groundwork that involves contacting each jurisdiction. Other costs involve the infrastructure such as improvements to bridges or other barriers to cyclists, signage and maps to promote the USBRS.
The proposed cycling system could rival some of the largest if its kind in the world such as the European Cyclists’ Federation EuroVelo, a European cycle route network and the National Cycle Network (NCN) in the UK.
“We’ve really used their systems as models for the USBRS,” Bateman said. “There are a good number of lessons learned and strategies that work for the USBRS, however, there are some major differences. For example funding, Sustrans, which manages the NCN, gets a large portion of its funding from a lottery. Also, distances between destinations and the way transportation is governed are different.”
Bateman expects one to three cross country routes to be complete with in the next five years. “There really is no way of estimating how long it will take to create the USBRS until we have some route applications ready to submit to AASHTO, then we will be able to gage the time needed to implement.”