State helping form interstate bicycle routes - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

State helping form interstate bicycle routes

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Posted: Sunday, December 28, 2008 6:23 pm | Updated: 9:17 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

An effort to develop a national bicycle interstate system is under way with the help of the state Transportation Department.

The plan doesn't call for creating new routes for bicyclists who wish to ride from state to state, but rather identifying the facilities that already exist, said Michael Sanders, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Arizona has already made a map of state routes, showing how wide shoulders are and which ones specifically prohibit bicycles.

The map shows that parts of Interstate 10 and Interstate 19 prohibit bicycle travel, but lots of other routes in Arizona allow it.

The map gives bicyclists information about traffic volumes and shoulder conditions so they can make an informed decision about where they would be comfortable riding, Sanders said.

It's the kind of map that will help develop a national system for bicyclists to figure out where and how to plan their long rides, whether for training, transportation or vacation.

The idea for a national system to identify bicycle facilities started with the Adventure Cycling Association, which guides bicyclists on rides through the country. The association has been working with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials for years to create a plan and designation system for bicycle routes across the country.

All the routes would be the responsibility of the jurisdiction they're in, but the goal is to sign them all the same when they cross into two or more states, the same way interstate highways are signed.

The entire program is to be overseen by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

"The goal is to make sure the routes that we will eventually designate will meet AASHTO guidelines for bike use, whether it's wide shoulder, bike lanes or off-road shared-use paths," Sanders said.

This type of program would make it easier to ride from state to state, said George Ledbetter, who's been on six interstate rides.

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