MISSOULA, MT (BRAIN)—Adventure Cycling Association, North America's largest cycling membership organization, has announced the receipt of four new grants totaling $100,000 to support its efforts to create what will be the world's largest official bicycle network: the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS).
The grants came from a number of prominent foundations and a leading cycling business: $45,000 from the Tawani Foundation; $30,000 from the SRAM Cycling Fund; $15,000 from the Surdna Foundation; and $10,000 from the Lazar Foundation. The grants from Tawani, Surdna, and Lazar focus on the U.S. Bicycle Route System. The grant from SRAM will support Adventure Cycling's work on the USBRS, as well as its efforts to help understand and organize the bike-travel industry.
"We are incredibly grateful for this show of support," said Jim Sayer, Adventure Cycling's executive director. "It comes at the perfect time, as we ramp up our efforts to develop the U.S. Bicycle Route System. 2011 has been a milestone year as more states join the project and we win approval for new national routes."
In May, six new and adapted U.S. Bicycle Routes were approved by AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)—the first approvals of official U.S. bike routes in nearly three decades. Also, the number of states planning or implementing U.S. Bicycle Routes has grown to 41.
"The other timely aspect of these grants is that they're focused on boosting more sustainable transportation and tourism at a time when these sectors are catching on with the American public," said Sayer.
Over the last year, Adventure Cycling and other associations, such as the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), have documented the boom in sustainable and adventure travel (see, for example, Adventure Cycling's report "10 Indicators that Bicycle Travel is Blooming" or "Adventure Tourism Market Report" on behalf of the ATTA). States and communities across the U.S. are also paying more attention to the economic power of bike tourism (a recent study found that Wisconsin captures $1 billion annually from bike travel and tourism).
The U.S. Bicycle Route System is an emerging national network of bicycle routes that span multiple states and are of national and regional significance. These routes will serve as visible and well-planned trunk lines for connecting city, regional, and statewide cycling routes, and provide transportation and tourism opportunities across the country.
A highly collaborative effort, the U.S. Bicycle Route System project is spearheaded by a national AASHTO task force and involves officials and staff from state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, and nonprofit organizations such as Adventure Cycling, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Mississippi River Trail, Inc. Adventure Cycling has provided dedicated staff support to the project since 2005 and has extensive experience with creating long-distance bicycle routes, having mapped more than 40,000 miles of routes for the Adventure Cycling Route Network.
Since 2006 Adventure Cycling's work on the U.S. Bicycle Route System has also been supported by Adventure Cycling members and donors, and by grants from Bikes Belong, Educational Foundation of America, New Belgium Brewing Company, and AASHTO's Center for Environmental Excellence.