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Adventure Cycling Association

In June 2014, the ECF and the Adventure Cycling Association agreed to promote each other’s work and the respective route networks in order to encourage and promote cycle tourism, route development and knowledge sharing.  The ECF will therefore be featuring a series of articles on our ‘sister’ network in North America, whilst Adventure Cycling will be publishing reciprocal articles on EuroVelo in their excellent magazine Adventure Cycling.

You can read a comprehensive introduction to the work of Adventure Cycling here.

Adv Cycl 2011_079

Adventure Cycling is working in the U.S. to develop the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS), a similar project to EuroVelo in its aims to connect an entire continent with bike routes, for touristic purposes and for daily users. They have already created maps for an extensive network of touring routes.

You can find answers to some Frequently asked questions about Adventure Cycling and the USBRS below.

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What is the Adventure Cycling Association?

Adventure Cycling Association in a national nonprofit organization working to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle. It is the largest membership cycling organization in North America with 47,000 members.

What is the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS)?

The U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) is a developing national network of bicycle routes, which will link urban, suburban, and rural areas using a variety of appropriate cycling facilities.

State departments of transportation (DOTs) nominate U.S. Bike Routes for numbered designation through the the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering, which is the same committee that assigns numbers to U.S. highways and interstates.

For a route to receive official designation as a U.S. Bicycle Route, it must connect two or more states, a state and an international border, or other U.S. Bicycle Routes. State or international neighbors must be in agreement with the route and cross-over point.

  •  Maps and Routes

I want to go from city A to city B. Does Adventure Cycling provide maps?

We have mapped over 42,180 miles of cycling routes in the United States. It is best to check out the Adventure Cycling Route Network page to see where our routes go. We do not always go into big cities, so you may want to use our maps for portions of your ride, and use state or regional maps for the rest.

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route seems pretty remote. How do I get there?
There are many options for beginning and ending a tour on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. We have compiled a list of shuttle services (PDF) available along the route. There may be others who offer this service as well.

Are there maps for the North Star tour?
The “North Star” is the name of one of our tours, and we do not provide maps for this tour route. From Missoula, Montana, to Jasper, Alberta, our Adventure Cycling tours use the Great Parks North maps. From Jasper northward, you can refer to a publication called The Milepost: Alaska and Northwestern Canada, an annual travel guide that gives highway and road descriptions in relation to milepost markers.

I have older maps. Can I still use them for my upcoming trip?

Over time maps become less useful because things change. Each year Adventure Cycling’s Routes and Mapping Department creates addenda for every map in the Adventure Cycling Route Network. With the help of riders like you, we receive updates on routing, services, and contact information. Until we can reprint the map with the new information, we verify the suggested changes and publish addenda. These addenda are available online and are shown for a map’s previous three versions. If your map is dated earlier than the three listed versions, we recommend purchasing a new map so you are current with all the service changes and other updates.

When is the best time to ride each route?

Adirondack Park Loop:
Late spring to mid-fall.

Allegheny Mountains Loop:
Late spring to late fall.

Atlantic Coast:
Late spring to mid-fall in the north; all year in the south. Caution: Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 1, and can close the Outer Banks Alternate.

Florida Connector:
all year round. Caution: the hurricane season is from June 1 to November 1.

Grand Canyon:
early summer to mid-fall. Caution: snow can occur at any time in the higher elevations along the route.

Great Divide and Great Divide Canada:
Early summer to mid-fall. Caution: Snow can occur at any time along the route. If it is a heavy snow year, high-elevation roads in the north may not be open until late June or early July.

Great Parks:
Early summer to mid-fall. Caution: Snow can occur at any time during the summer in the Rocky Mountains. Due to snow, Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana is only open through certain dates. Call the Park at (406) 888-7800 or visit their Current Road Status page.

Great Rivers:
Mid-spring to late fall.

Green Mountains Loop:
Late spring to mid-fall.

Lake Erie:
Late spring to late fall.

Lewis & Clark:
Late spring to mid-fall. Caution: Snow can occur at any time during the summer in the Rocky Mountains. The highest point on the route is Lemhi Pass, 7,323 feet.

North Lakes:
Late spring to mid-fall.

Northern Tier:
Late spring to mid-fall. Caution: Due to snow, State Route 20 in the North Cascades National Park in Washington is only open through certain dates. Call the Park at (360) 856-5700 or visit their Road Status and Conditions page. The same is true for Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana. Call the Park at (406) 888-7800 or visit their Current Road Status page.

Pacific Coast:
Early spring to late fall in the north; all year in the south. Caution: heavy winter rains cause flooding and mud slides and may close roads, especially along the coast.

Sierra Cascades:
Late spring to mid-fall. Caution: Due to snow, State Route 20 in the North Cascades National Park in Washington is only open through certain dates. Call the Park at (360) 856-5700 or visit their Road Status and Conditions page. Visit the CalTrans Mountain Pass Closure Dates page to view historic closure dates for Monitor and Tioga passes in California.

Southern Tier:
Early fall to late spring, and into summer in the east. Caution: Snow can occur at any time in the higher elevations in the Southwest, with the highest pass in New Mexico being over 8,000 feet. In the southeast, hurricane season is from June 1 to November 1.

Tidewater Potomac:
Early spring to late fall.

TransAmerica:
Late spring to mid-fall. Caution: snow can occur at any time during the summer in the Rocky Mountains, with the highest pass in Colorado being over 11,000 feet.

Utah Cliffs Loop:
Late May to early June, and September into mid-October, depending on weather due to high elevation.

Western Express:
Early summer to mid-fall. Caution: Snow can occur at any time along the route in the Sierra Nevada and in the Rocky Mountains. The highest pass is at 8,573 feet in California, and at 11,312 feet in Colorado.

I’m going to ride across the USA by myself. Will I be safe?

There are advantages to riding on our routes as far as safety is concerned. Other cyclists will also be on the route. Because these routes are established, folks along the way are accustomed to seeing cyclists. People are generally very kind to cyclists, but it is important to trust your intuition and use common sense. Keep in mind that road conditions and traffic vary across the country. Taking our Intro to Road Touring course or a bike maintenance class may help to boost a cyclist’s confidence before embarking on a long tour.

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  • Implementation of the USBRS

What are the advantages of having a U.S. Bicycle Route System?

The U.S. Bicycle Route System benefits the country by providing an interconnected, national network of cycling routes geared towards medium and long-distance bike travel. The cascading effects of this central benefit are numerous and include:

  • health benefits
  • economic impacts
  • environmental benefits
  • transportation benefits

Is there demand?

Overall, bicycling is booming in the U.S. According to the Bicycle Retailers Association, cycling facilities construction is at an all-time high, and both pedestrian and bicycle facilities have received an increasing level of support from the public and government in recent years. Better facilities continue to be an important factor in the industry’s growth.

According to the National Sporting Goods Association 95 million adults ride bicycles. U.S. bicyclists have a mean income of about $60,000 and there are more bicyclists than skiers, golfers, and tennis players combined.
Adventure Cycling Association has 47,000 members. Over the last 10 years, the organization has seen a 27% growth in membership and a 42% growth in sales of bicycle-touring maps.
The U.S. bicycle industry has annual sales of $6 billion and employs roughly 100,000 people selling 16M bicycles per year according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association.


Who is funding this initiative?

There is no dedicated funding for the U.S. Bicycle Route System at this time, however federal funding mechanisms exist that are appropriate for U.S. Bicycle Routes. The goal of the USBRS is to use existing roads and trails whenever possible, and to build collaborations within states, in order to help keep cost of implementation low.
Are there any existing routes?

Yes, there are routes being established each year. Visit our Use a U.S. Bike Route page for information about designated routes.

How are routes decided upon?

The AASHTO Task Force on U.S. Bicycle Routes provides guidelines and recommended corridors to assist states in creating their routes. Routes follow existing roads, trails, and highways depending on varying state policies and laws. States are encouraged to develop and follow their own selection criteria in conjunction with input from local bicycle organizations and are welcome to consult with the Adventure Cycling Association. There are numerous tools available to assist states with this process.

When new facilities are built for U.S. Bicycle Routes, AASHTO recommends that states refer to the AASHTO Guide for Development of Bicycle Facilities.

What is a “corridor”?

Each corridor shown on the National Corridor Plan is a 50-mile wide area that suggests where a U.S. Bike Route should be developed or where a route may already exist that could be designated. Each corridor usually includes mutiple routing options (roads, trails, etc). Corridors link key destinations, urban centers, and scenic routes, and provide a starting-point for state DOTs to plan interstate connections.

On the National Corridor Plan, you can view the corridors and click on each state to jump to a description of that state’s implementation status; this map also shows approved and officially designated U.S. Bike Routes as solid dark lines.

Read the USBRS 101 information for details on how the National Corridor Plan was developed.

How is a U.S. Bike Route implemented?

State DOTs coordinate the selection of routes, document them, and apply to AASHTO for designation. DOTs may use contractors, volunteers, and/or private or agency partners to choose routes and document them. Read more about implementation.

Are there stipulations for developing U.S. Bicycle Routes?

Any state DOT can designate a U.S. Bicycle Route as long as the route travels between two or more states, a state and an international border, or connects other U.S. Bicycle Routes. For example, when designating U.S. Bicycle Route 76, the states of Virginia and Kentucky worked together to align the connection of the route across their common state border. Read more about implementation.
What if the best route or an important connection is not on a road managed by the State Department of Transportation?

State DOTs work with local jurisdictions (counties, townships, and municipalities) and organizations or agencies to establish routes. Often, the best routes for cycling are outside state DOT jurisdiction. When designating these routes, cooperation is necessary between the DOT, local and state natural resource agencies, and organizations.

States such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, and New York have coordinated efforts between multiple municipalities in their state networks with great success. Their examples have provided a model for the USBRS as have the route networks in other countries. Visit our Other Route Networks page for more information.

Who oversees and maintains the U.S. Bicycle Route System?

Oversight belongs to the state DOT, however maintenance of a route varies, depending on which roads, streets, or trails used by the route. For example, a route could use a state highway, a county road, and an independent trail, each maintained by a different organization.

Adventure Cycling recommend local agreements or resolutions of support identify who will maintain the route.

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Photo credits: Chuck Haney