GIRARD, Kan. – Nearly 500 miles of the national U.S. Bicycle Route System is being signed through Kansas. USBR-66 (United States Bicycle Route) is along the 13.2 mile route on the Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway. USBR-76 crosses the state for 480 miles and primarily follows the same route as the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail and Trans Am Bike Race.
“Bicycle Route 76 is the primary route bicyclists take to cross the country and connects the Oregon Pacific coastline to the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia,” said Roger Lomshek of Tailwind Cyclists in Pittsburg. “It first became popular in 1976 during the nation’s bicentennial and became known as the ‘bikecentennial’ route.”
“These routes are primarily used by touring cyclists making cross-country trips, but also by locals and visitors for transportation and recreation,” said Jenny Kramer, Bike-Ped Coordinator for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).
Lomshek said, in a good year, the Pittsburg area will see over a thousand bicycle tourists as they take the 4,200 mile pilgrimage across the country.
The markers are also a reminder to local drivers to be on the lookout for these cyclists.
“Drivers should be on the lookout for bicyclists all year long on these mostly back country roads because of their popularity with traveling and local cyclists,” Lomshek said. “Everyone I’ve talked to likes signs. Cyclists, because it helps them navigate the route, and drivers, because it’s a reminder that they can expect to see bicyclists on the roads.”
“Signing a route is not technically required after designation, it is something that many cyclists expect states to do,” Kramer said. “It is easier for them to follow as a wayfinding signage network than it is to constantly be checking their travel maps or relying on battery-powered devices. We have been hearing only good things from the cycling community about these specific signs, which was expected.”
While the timing of the installation of the signs has made some question if it was due to the pandemic, Kramer said the project has been in the works for several years.
USBR-76 was designated by the state in 2015. USBR-66 was designated in 2018. After these designations were approved, planning and design work was completed. A press event organized by KDOT to promote the routes and their new signage was held in Galena in November of 2019.
“Sign installation took a pause over winter to avoid frozen grounds and was expected to pick up in Spring 2020,” Kramer said, “however, the pandemic did cause some delays.”
The signs through Crawford County have been installed from Walnut to the west edge of Pittsburg. Kramer said installation is “happening at the pace of opportunity—meaning our KDOT crews and local communities are working together whenever possible to install signage along these routes.”
Signage is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
For more information about these routes and the USBRS process, please visit the Adventure Cycling Association’s website: https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/us-bicycle-route-system/.