The Indiana Department of Transportation, the Adventure Cycling Association, Bicycle Indiana, and the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council announce the designation of three U.S. Bicycle Routes that will span the Hoosier State from border to border, stretching a combined total of 610 miles.
U.S. Bicycle Routes are officially numbered bicycle routes that connect communities and the nation. The routes are for experienced long-distance bicycle riders – generally considered “touring cyclists” – who are comfortable riding on most types of facilities, including roads without any special treatments for bicyclists. This group also includes utilitarian and recreational riders who are confident enough to ride on busy roadways and navigate in traffic.
“INDOT is proud to partner with the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council, Bicycle Indiana, and the Adventure Cycling Association to turn the idea of a bicycle route network throughout the state and the nation into a reality,” said INDOT Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson. “Indiana is the true crossroads of America, validated not only by our roadways, but now by our bicycle routes as well.”
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved INDOT’s applications for USBR 35, USBR 36 and USBR 50 at its annual meeting last month in Chicago.
Nancy Tibbett, executive director of Bicycle Indiana, said: “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.”
AASHTO approved new U.S. Bicycle Route miles in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio and Vermont in October, bringing the system to more than 11,000 miles. Indiana is now seventh in the nation with the most number of U.S. Bicycle Route miles.
“Indiana is delighted to be joining 22 other states as part of the U.S. Bicycle Route System,” said Mark Newman, executive director of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. “We take great pride in our rural roadways and the charm of our natural assets and destinations. Hoosiers look forward to sharing their roads and communities with bicycle tourists as they travel the Indiana portions of these U.S. bike routes.”
The three U.S. Bicycle Routes in Indiana are:
- USBR 35: The nearly 381-mile, north-south route crosses Indiana from LaPorte County on the Michigan border to Jeffersonville at the Big Four Bridge over the Ohio River. Because USBR 35 was previously approved through Michigan, the route now connects southern Indiana to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, for a total of 865 miles. USBR 35 follows county roads, city streets, state highways and off-road trails, traversing along diverse topographies and ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, fields and agricultural land. Cyclists can explore cultural and historical attractions and bicycle facilities along the route, including the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Hoosier Rails to Trails Council Vice Chairman Richard Vonnegut said: “Of all motor and bike routes in Indiana, USBR 35 is the only international route and therefore brings bicycling to supersede other interstate, federal and national roads across Indiana. Further, the requirement for local approvals in creating USBR 35 sets a model for creating other cross-state and local bike routes in Indiana.”
- USBR 36: The 58.7-mile route runs between Illinois and Michigan, with 35 miles of the route on off-road trails. The route begins near the southern tip of Chicago in Hammond, where it soon diverts from an urban setting to a loop trail around Wolf Lake and its 1,000-foot boardwalk bridge through naturalized areas hosting a myriad of wildlife. The route connects with the Erie-Lackawanna Trail, and along the Oak-Savannah and Prairie-Duneland trails. These off-road trails eventually lead riders to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Dunes Highway, or U.S. 12, takes cyclists through Michigan City and eventually crosses the Michigan state line.
- USBR 50: This 160-mile route connects from the Illinois border, near Terre Haute, to Richmond on the Ohio border. The Ride Across Indiana bicycle ride follows this route, which passes through rolling hills and agricultural land, and many bike-friendly communities in central Indiana. USBR 50 intersects with USBR 35 in Indianapolis.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which determines most standards for roads in the United States, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. AASHTO’s primary goal is to foster the development of an integrated national transportation system. AASHTO works in concert with the Adventure Cycling Association regarding the U.S. Bicycle Route System.