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Next Meeting: To Be Determined

Update from January 19 webinar and meeting:

About 15 members of the Shoreline Coalition list joined a one-hour webinar with Kerry Irons and Virginia Sullivan from Adventure Cycling to learn about the U.S. Bike Route System. (Thank you to Kerry and Virginia!) Five of us met at the CRERPA office in Old Saybrook, a group of five linked in from the offices of Kent + Frost in Mystic, and others joined from their homes and offices.
We learned about the history of the bike route system and its current evolution, as well as the relationship between Adventure Cycling, the leading advocate for the development of the system, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). More importantly, the speakers demystified the process of establishing a route. In every case, it involves a joint effort of state departments of transportation, local advocates, and municipalities.  

Use this link to view a generic version of the Adventure Cycling presentation

Next steps:
The non-motorized transportation staff at DOT is in the process of defining how to establish the route (and possibly spurs or side routes through areas like the Shoreline). When it is fully defined, regional advocates will be asked to participate in defining local routes as well as obtaining support and approval from their communities. As we learn more from DOT, it will be communicated to this list (and many other groups, too, I expect!).
Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency
See the Bicycle Safety Editorial in 1/12/12 Hartford Courant.

Brainstorm Route 1A for the Shoreline/River Valley?

Can the Shoreline and River Valley be part of the US Bike Route 1 system in Connecticut? Maybe!

CT DOT plans to map a US Bike Route through the state. According to Kate Rattan, non-motorized transportation coordinator at DOT, the  the Route will probably parallel the East Coast Greenway in Connecticut. As many of you know, that means the Shoreline and lower River Valley won't be part of the planning because the East Coast Greenway runs well north of this area.

That is unless someone nominates one or more route "spurs," in effect a US Bicycle Route 1A in southeastern Connecticut.

What is a US Bike Route?
It is first and foremost a bike touring concept. U.S. Bicycle Routes (USBR) are intended to link urban, suburban, and rural areas using primarily on-road and some off-road facilities. These routes are nominated for numbered designation by State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and are cataloged by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) through the Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (the same committee that assigns numbers to U.S. highways and interstates).

Some of the routes have physical signage saying US Bike Route, but this is up to the discretion of individual municipalities. Whether they have physical signs or not, the routes are provided by Adventure Cycling to their members with detailed directions, resources, and road conditions. Adventure Cycling also provides support to state and federal agencies, communities and advocate organizations that are engaged in creating and maintaining local USBRs.

What is the value of a US Bike Route?

The routes are selected specifically to accommodate bicycle tourism, directing cyclists through an area--often from out of state. It has other values, however, depending on local implementation. It can create a unifying bike travel concept in a region and can serve as the backbone for local bikeway improvements and maintenance. That is probably its chief value to southeastern Connecticut.

Why does this matter for the Shoreline and River Valley towns?

Since January 2011, a number of the people on this Coalition list have met and communicated by email regarding the desirability of Shoreline and River Valley bike routes that make reflect local "best rides" and will help clarify for DOT the gaps in our favored local routes. The DOT has already acknowledged the US Bike Route concept and is about to embark on the mapping process. Now may be the time to nominate a spur route in southeastern Connecticut--US Bike Route 1A.