National and State Bike Route Network Taking Shape
Transportation planners across the country are coordinating efforts to designate roads and paths as bike routes to establish a national network that would enable long distance travel by bicycle. TMACOG is coordinating the project in northwest Ohio and working with planners in other parts of the state. Ohio’s move to establish a network of signed U.S. and State routes will serve as a backbone for long-distance riders, while also connecting local residents to nearby communities. Christine Connell, TMACOG transportation public administration specialist, has been reaching out to local governments to explain the state and national plan and how northwest Ohio would be part of it.
Communities that support active modes of travel like walking and bicycling reap many benefits. Workers, tourists, and businesses are attracted to locations with high-quality, multimodal transportation systems. Amenities like bike routes add to a community's charm and sense of place when attracting businesses and convincing current businesses to stay and expand. Bike routes can also make communities more appealing to new residents, especially young professionals with healthy life styles who want options when it comes to how they get around. Past analysis has found that long distance bicycle tourists typically spend $100 to $300 each day on food and lodging.
The northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan section of the proposed state and federal routes is posted on the TMACOG transportation pages here. The Slippery Elm trail in Wood County would be part of a major north/south route. Bike Route 25 would pass through North Baltimore, Bowling Green, Perrysburg, Maumee, central and north Toledo and extend into Michigan. The proposed network would not involve new construction. Rather, it designates existing roads and pathways. Future goals include working with ODOT and MDOT to sign the routes.
In all, there are 21 jurisdictions just in Lucas and Wood counties alone that are impacted. Fifteen of these have already provided resolutions of support. Resolutions are being considered in the remaining six jurisdictions. These will be added to resolutions being collected around the state and then submitted to the American Association State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for official certification of the routes.