Interstate bike highway effort reappears

A new map outlines the plans for a cross-country network of interstate bike routes.

A new map outlines the plans for a cross-country network of interstate bike routes.

An effort to develop interstate bike corridors — such as Bicycle Route Interstate 87, which would cover roughly the same ground as I-5, and Bicycle Route Interstate 95 which would shadow Highway 101 down the Oregon Coast — is getting new life.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved six new routes in June and released an ambitious new map in partnership with the Adventure Cycling Association that traces routes that would join the contiguous 48 states and carve out routes in Alaska and Hawaii.

The new routes — one linking Maine and New Hampshire, another across the mitten of Michigan and four routes in Alaska — are the first to be approved in 30 years.

The effort started during the Bicentennial celebration in 1976 as part of Bikecentennial, a cross-country bike tour, but the effort to create a network of interstate bike routes stalled. This month's activity signals new life for the project.

Sheila Lyons, program manager for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program at the Oregon Department of Transportation, said that work on the ground to establish official routes in Oregon is being led by volunteers.

"There's some effort going on," Lyons said. "But there's no real formalization happening."

AASHTO has a window each year when it accepts applications for new routes. Volunteers submit detailed descriptions of the bike routes, using existing infrastructure. Approved official interstate routes will be marked by signs and included in a bicycle map.

The group also gave a $5,000 grant to Adventure Cycling Association, which is based in Montana, to promote the establishment of interstate bike routes.

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