The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (“AASHTO”), the group which determines most standards for roads in the United States, has approved new bike route segments in five states, one being Indiana. In Indiana, the new segments are Routes #35, #50, and #36 cross portions of Indiana and connect with one or more neighboring states. These routes are unique in that each governmental unit, which controls a segment of a street, road, highway, or trailway, has approved a standard endorsement to create local participation in the United States Bicycle Route System (“USBRS”).
The USBRS creates a national network of inter-connected routes to aid cyclists to travel in/thru/across and explore areas of the United States. Further, the USBRS offers local communities to benefit from the income and monies spent by long distance cycling tourists.
USBR #35 runs from Michigan, at La Porte County Line, Indiana, to Louisville, Kentucky at Jeffersonville, Indiana. This 360 mile / 570 kilometer bikeway not only connects many county roads, numerous city streets, several state highways, and a variety of off-road trails. Each segment has been approved by the jurisdictional owners for use as part of this national bike route system. In addition, this north-south route traverses many of Indiana topographies and ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, country areas, fields, pastures, and the built environments found in such nodes as villages, towns, and cities. Generally #35 passes southward through the counties of La Porte, Starke, Pulaski, Fulton, Miami, Howard, Tipton, Hamilton, Marion, Hancock, Shelby, Bartholomew, Jackson, Scott, and Clark. The currently specific route map and cue sheet can be found here. Within this route are many “trailtowns”, which stand ready to serve bike travelers. Although Indianapolis is large for a “trailtown”, it has many stores, services, and bike trails, and bike lanes for cyclists. Later, the route will be extended through Kentucky and Tennessee as it makes its way to the Gulf Shores. For now Indiana #35 joins the already official #35 through Michigan to Sault Sainte Marie,Ontario. (Notably, in connecting directly with Canada, Indiana now has the only international surface route in the state, which is a priority even a higher rank than interstate, federal, and national motorways.) The opening will be scheduled later this Fall.
USBR #50 connects many county roads and city streets to motor route #40, the National Road, to cross Indiana for 160 miles / 240 kilometers from Illinois, near and through Terre Haute, through southern Marion County, and on to Richmond, and Ohio. This route follows the same route as Ride Across Indiana (“RAIN”), and passes through many villages and small towns, which tend to cater to cyclists, as cyclists have been rolling through this way for decades. Between the towns (and the two cities of Terre Haute and Indianapolis), #50 rolls through many farms and rural settings across central Indiana. Counties enroute include Vigo, Clay, Putnam, Hendricks, Marion, Hancock, Henry, and Wayne. Opening ceremonies will be announced later.
USBR #36 connects South Chicago in Illinois, through Lake, Porter, and La Porte Counties in Indiana to cup around Lake Michigan to Michigan City, and into Michigan State on its way to Detroit. Mostly on trails, the route is near many industries and houses, but is away from Lake Michigan until USBR #36 passes through Chesterton, and angles northward to the Indiana Dunes. Rolling northeastwardly to, through, and beyond Michigan City, and into Michigan, USBR #36 follows near to Lake Michigan.
Nancy Tibbett, Executive Director, Bicycle Indiana
"So many of the communities along the route were eager to support bicycling and tourism in whatever way they could, so it's wonderful to have these routes officially designated on the US Bicycle Route system."
Vince Caristo, Board Member of Bicycle Indiana, and advocate for USBR #50
"The designation of these routes puts Indiana at the crossroads of a budding network of national bicycle touring routes. This is a good thing for Indiana, since studies show that bicycle tourism is growing rapidly, and that bicycle tourists spend more and stay longer than other travelers."
Coordinating and developing this massive project, at the national level is the Adventure Cycling (“ACA”). ACA is the leading national bicycle touring organization. As such ACA plans many bicycle routes across the United States, leads a sizable number of bike tours throughout the year, and provides a central source of bicycle tour information.
The process is driven by the two staff members Sara Snow and Ginny Sullivan. Their tasks are to find and guide state cycling leaders through the process of planning a route through a state, then have the state leaders work with local cyclists and government leaders to endorse the route at the local level. From here, the state leaders take their work to their state departments of transportation. State DOTs are to approve the use of state highways, check for route accuracies and apply to AASHTO for final approval and inclusion in the national transportation system.
During the last four years the two state groups the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council and Bicycle Indiana contacted many local cyclists, requested endorsements from thirty~three city, county, and non-government agencies for the entire USB Route #35. During the summer the Indiana Department of Transportation approved the local work, and applied to AASHTO, which approved USBRs #35, #50, and #36 into the national transport system.
The Hoosier Rails to Trails Council and Bicycle Indiana thank many local and state government officials and many many local bicyclists and supporters for their help in garnering local and state approvals for these three routes.
The Hoosier Rails to Trails Council is the leading rail-trail, bikeway, and walkway organization in Indiana. with a mission to help create trails in Indiana.
Bicycle Indiana is the leading bicycle advocacy organization in Indiana.