Joplin – On June 17th, as part of the opening ceremonies for the 2018 edition of Big BAM Ride (Bicycle Across Missouri), a ribbon cutting was conducted marking the Missouri and Kansas sections of U.S. Bike Route 66 receiving formal designation. At the May 2018 meeting of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), applications submitted by the respective DOT’s were approved.
In Missouri, after years of work by MoDOT, the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, the Adventure Cycling Association, local tourism and Route 66 affiliated organizations and advocates, Bicycle Route 66 across the lower half of the state is now an official part of the U.S. National Bicycle Route System.
For Kansas, KDOT along with Cherokee County officials, the Historic Route 66 Byway Committee and other Route 66 enthusiasts supported the DOT’s effort for the designation into the national system. Kansas BR66 is 13 miles in the length in the extreme southeast corner of the state.
Missouri and Kansas have become the first two states of the eight which the historic Mother Road passes through to receive USBR66 designation. Both share a USBR76 (TransAm) designation.
“In the 35 years since AASHTO established U.S. Bicycle Route One, through Virginia and North Carolina, the number of participating states has grown to 26, in addition to the District of Columbia,” said Bud Wright AASHTO executive director. “More than half the states are today on the U.S. Bicycle Route System, giving daily commuters, bicycle tourists, and leisure cyclists more options for travel and recreation. The benefits are less traffic congestion, greater economic development, and healthier citizens–three big wins for communities everywhere.”
“The U.S. Bike Route System in of itself is an important network for the travel & tourism industry as a whole,” said Patrick Tuttle, Director of the Joplin Convention and Visitor Bureau and key supporter of the Bicycle Route 66 effort in Missouri. “For the Joplin region and across Missouri, when adding in the value of historic Route 66, for cycling and tourism stakeholders alike, there is no question, we had to be involved.”
Route 66 – Legislation for public highways first appeared in 1916, and the government executed its plan for national highway construction in 1925. U.S. Highway 66 (Route 66), also known as “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road”, was a highway in the U.S. Highway System. One of the original highways, the enumerated Route 66 was officially assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles and established on November 11, 1926. That designation acknowledged Route 66 as one of the nation’s principal east–west arteries.
The U.S. Bike Route System – is a developing national network of officially recognized, numbered, and signed bicycle routes. The new designations bring the total mileage of the system to 13,099. More than 40 states are working on designating and implementing official U.S. Bicycle Routes.
Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit that provides national coordination for the U.S. Bicycle Route System, partners with AASHTO to ensure states have the resources and expertise needed for successful route designation.
Missouri/Kansas Bike Routes 66 – U.S. Bicycle Route 66 covers 345 miles across Missouri and 13 miles across the southeast corner of Kansas, connecting cyclists to Oklahoma and Illinois. It roughly parallels today’s I-44, which takes most motor vehicle traffic, leaving the historic Route 66 segments as relatively low-traffic side-roads that wander through the countryside, preserving traces of an American icon as it stood half a century ago.
Cyclists on USBR 66 can visit historic Marsh Bridge, Riverton Store (in continuous operation since 1925), the Galena Mining Museum, Old Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi River, the Big Chief Roadhouse in Wildwood, the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, the Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store, Route 66 parks in Springfield and Joplin, Route 66 State Park in Eureka, many period hotels, bridges, and original stretches of historic roadway, and the birthplace of Route 66 in Springfield.
Brent Hugh, Executive Director, Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation stated, “We are so pleased to see this important historic route – already used by many bicyclists from across the world – officially adopted as part of the U.S. Bicycle Route System. We much appreciate the work of MoDOT and leaders of communities along the route who have worked hard for this day. Riding this route really gives a glimpse into the soul of the American heartland.”
“We’re excited for the opportunity to designate our portion of Historic Route 66 as a United States Bicycle Route. We’ve been working with other state agencies and local communities to develop and promote active tourism along our state’s byway system” says Matt Messina, KDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. “This designation helps support our efforts and attracts travelers to our state.”
USBR 66 is important for the homage it pays to historic Route 66, but also because it intersects with other key bicycle touring routes, including the Mississippi River Trail, the Great Rivers South Bicycle Route, the Transamerica Trail (USBR 76), the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Touring Route, and USBR 51 connecting Missouri to Louisiana and Minnesota, currently under development. Additionally, with the designation of U.S. Bicycle Route 66 in Missouri and Kansas, interest has picked up in other states located along the historic road.
PHOTO: (left to right) Brent Hugh, Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, Tommy Pike, President, Route 66 Association of Missouri, Hon. Gary Shaw, Mayor of Joplin, Ron Effland, State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, MoDOT, Michelle Teel, Multimodal Operations Director, MoDOT, Renee Charles, President, Kansas Route 66 Association, Chrysa Niewald, Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, and Braden Horst, Joplin Trails Coalition.