The United States is on a path to creating what could become the largest official bicycle route network in the world, with the approval of a new plan by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
AASHTO has just approved a National Corridor Plan, identifying corridors connecting America's urban, rural, and suburban areas. The corridors cover well over 50,000 miles, which, if transformed into routes along roads and trails, would create the largest official bicycle route network on any continent. It far outstrips Europe’s planned Euro-Vélo network which is projected to be 60,000 kilometers or 36,000 miles.
The plan has taken four years to reach the official approval stage and has gone through more than a dozen revisions—with input from hundreds of federal and state officials, cycling advocacy groups, and individuals.
Jim Sayer, executive director of Adventure Cycling Association (the largest membership cycling group in North America), which had a large input into the plan, commented: "We are very pleased to have AASHTO's stamp of approval on this plan. Because the process of developing the plan was so collaborative, and with national interest in cycling on the rise, we are already seeing a number of states jump ahead to create official interstate routes."
If and when the US network is completed it would dwarf other leading national networks whose current approximate mileages are:
- UK’s National Cycle Network 12,000 miles
- Germany 7,000 miles
- Denmark 2,400 miles
- Netherlands 2,700 miles
- Switzerland 3,000 miles
Significant networks can also be found in Western Australia and the Province of Quebec, which launched its highly successful 2,400-mile Route Verte (the "Green Way") in August 2007.
Ginny Sullivan, ACA’s lead staff coordinator for the project acknowledged the huge scale of the task head.
"We know this route network will not materialize overnight," said Sullivan. "But then again, neither did the Interstate Highway System. We're just thrilled to see the high level of interest right now." According to Sullivan, Virginia, Michigan and Florida have begun initial work already.
For more information about the U.S. Bicycle Route System project, visit www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs.