MISSOULA, MT (BRAIN)—Adventure Cycling Association has received two new grants in support of the organization’s work to establish an official United States Bicycle Route System (USBRS).
The grants were awarded by Bikes Belong and New Belgium Brewing and will enable Adventure Cycling to continue its organizing and cartographic work with federal and state agencies and nonprofits to establish what could become the largest national cycling route network on the planet.
Bikes Belong awarded Adventure Cycling $15,000 in support of the project.
Bikes Belong executive director Tim Blumenthal said, "The U.S. Bicycle Route System is a powerful, big idea that will encourage Americans to bicycle more often. It will also focus attention on crucial missing links in our bike route system and speed the process of correcting them." Bike Belong is the U.S. bicycle industry organization dedicated to putting more people on bicycles more often.
New Belgium Brewing awarded the Association $15,000 annually for two years. New Belgium Brewing Company is the maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers. In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship.
Bryan Simpson, media director for New Belgium Brewing said, "Adventure Cycling’s U.S. Bicycle Route System proposal stood out because it works to connect communities and create a safer, more bike-friendly environment nationwide. We’re excited to be able to contribute in whatever way we can to make this project a reality."
These two grants come at a time when many avenues of support for the U.S. Bicycle Route System initiative are flourishing.
"We are grateful for this show of support for the U.S. Bicycle Route System. This project is receiving important support from funders, as well as from the halls of Congress and the leadership of state departments of transportation," said Jim Sayer, executive director of Adventure Cycling. "We also want to thank our members, who have been the principal supporters of our work on this visionary project." Adventure Cycling is the largest cycling membership organization in North America, with over 44,000 members.
The USBRS project is a collaborative effort, spearheaded by a task force under the auspices of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). AASHTO represents state departments of transportation (DOTs) across the United States. Members of the task force include officials and staff from state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, and nonprofits like the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Mississippi River Trail, Inc.
Since 2005, the task force—with staff support from Adventure Cycling—has created a first-of-its-kind inventory of major bike routes in the U.S. and a national corridor plan as a framework for the new network. The plan was approved in October 2008 by AASHTO’s executive board. The task force has also created a new application process to expedite the designation of new U.S. routes.
"Already, over 20 states are actively involved in the project," said Ginny Sullivan, Adventure Cycling’s project director on the USBRS. "And in a recent survey of state departments of transportation, 32 of the 35 states which have responded so far were interested in some level of implementation."
The U.S. Bicycle Route System project is part of a global trend, as countries and provinces establish national cycling networks—composed of on-road and trail facilities—to make cycling easier and more enjoyable in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Examples include the National Cycle Network in the United Kingdom, La Route Verte (the "Green Way") in Quebec Province, the D-Route Network in Germany, and VeloLand Switzerland. These systems are spurring major growth in bicycling and other non-motorized trips, with corresponding reductions in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Adding to the USBRS momentum is growing interest on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The USBRS project was included for recognition and funding support in legislation recently put forward by Congressmen Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR). These influential members of Congress are, respectively, the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. The legislation—to re-authorize the federal government’s transportation program— will be considered by Congress in the coming year.