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If you miss the 1980s, you might like this. A U.S. Bicycle Route System from that decade is getting a new life. As noted by GOOD, construction on the bicycle highway began back in the 1980s, but later petered out, and only portions of routes from Maine to Florida and Virginia to Oregon were built. Today, this story of people-powered energy is coming back to life, including in the Midwest.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has approved the first new routes for the U.S. Bicycle Route System in more than 30 years, according to the Fast Lane blog, by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. There will be six new routes, in Maine and New Hampshire, Michigan and Alaska, connecting to existing city, regional and statewide cycling trails.
The U.S. Bicycle Route System aims to connect an inventory of bike paths across the country. Credit: U.S. DOT
Earlier this month, LaHood featured a new route being constructed through Michigan.
Michigan’s plans, as described by the adventure association:
“Michigan’s USBR 20 begins and ends with ferry rides: over 40 miles of Lake Michigan open water from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to the port of Ludington, Michigan, and three-quarters of a mile across the St. Clair River to Ontario, Canada, from Marine City, Michigan. In between are glacial hills and flat prehistoric lake bottoms of central Michigan.”
This is welcome news for Midwest states like Michigan, which can be faulted for carving out plenty of routes for cars and urban sprawl, but not enough for bikes and pedestrians. Michigan was just named the 10th most obese state in the country by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The expansion of this bike system promises to “generate economic activity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote a healthier America,” according to LaHood.
That also can translate to money in our pockets, as in less money spent at the gas station for fossil-fueled transportation. Oh, and that healthier lifestyle includes less pollution from pedaling bikes, compared to pushing gas pedals.
— Image Credit, top: Dailyinvention