Is Kansas missing out on the proposed U.S. Bicycle Route System?
The U.S. Bicycle Route System is intended to be a national network of bicycle routes that span multiple states and are of national and regional significance. The routes are nominated by the State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), and designated and cataloged by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The Adventure Cycling Association is spearheading the effort to plan and implement this national bike route system, and is enthusiastically working towards that goal. (Click on the map to the right to view a full-sized U.S. map of proposed routes.)
The following map shows the proposed corridors in the state of Kansas:
A “corridor” is not a route, but a 50-mile swath where a route might be developed. The “prioritized corridors” are highlighted, and have already been assigned bicycle route numbers. The lighter-colored lines indicate “alternate corridors”, and have not been assigned route numbers.
Here’s a quick rundown of the prioritized corridors in Kansas:
- The main east-west route across the state is Bicycle Route 76, and should roughly follow the route of the TransAmerica Trail, which was first established as the “Bikecentennial” route in 1976 in honor of America’s bicentennial.
- The north-south route in the western part of Kansas is Bicycle Route 65, which runs from approximately Lubbock, Texas to Pierre, South Dakota.
- The north-south route in the eastern part of Kansas is Bicycle Route 55, which runs from approximately McAllen, Texas through Fargo, North Dakota, spanning the U.S. from Mexico to Canada.
- The route in the extreme northeastern part of Kansas is Bicycle Route 50, from Washington DC to San Francisco, California. Although this is another cross-country route, the portion in Kansas appears to follow the path of the Lewis & Clark Trail route.
- The route in the extreme southeastern corner of Kansas is Bicycle Route 66, which follows the famous Route 66 Highway from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.
The alternate routes appear to follow Highway 36 in the northern tier of Kansas, Highway 56 across the central part of the state, and Highway 160 across the south. The north-south route in the central part of the state would seem to follow Highway 281. And the route running from southwest Kansas to Kansas City appears to follow the old Santa Fe Trail route.
This all sounds great (and it is!), but is the Kansas Department of Transportation actually willing to participate?
Last year, a short survey was sent to the bicycle and pedestrian coordinators for each state Department of Transportation. The results of the survey were compiled into a report (Implementation Preparedness: Survey of State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinators), and you can read more about that on the ACA blog.
So what was the response from the Kansas Department of Transportation? Did they recognize the potential for tourism? The importance of bicycle routes to Kansas citizens? The possibility of making Kansas a model state for bicycle friendliness and hospitality?
The Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the state of Kansas, Becky Pepper, apparently didn’t bother to respond to the survey at all.
Kansas wasn’t alone in their neglect, unfortunately. Of the fifty states (plus Washington, D.C.) that were sent surveys, only 35 states responded.
Still, the report indicates a fairly high level of enthusiasm for the U.S. Bicycle Route System, with 32 states showing at least some interest in working to put together the national bike routes.
Regionally, Iowa and Missouri were definitely interested, Arkansas and Colorado were interested but don’t consider it important. Nebraska and Oklahoma, like Kansas, failed to even take the time to respond to the survey.
If you’re interested in the U.S. Bicycle Route System, please pressure your state’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator (which you can find listed on your state’s Department of Transportation web site) to participate in the planning and implementation of this important (and long overdue) network of national bike routes.
In Kansas, the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator is Becky Pepper. Her email address is email@example.com.
If you’re on Facebook, you may also want to join the U.S. Bicycle Route System fan page on Facebook, which will not only show your support, but keep you informed.