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Bike route may join trail group in Indiana


A new long-distance bike route between Northwest Indiana and the Indianapolis area could soon join a group of bike routes in Indiana.

But don’t look at the signs marking the routes just yet.

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to seek an official name for United States Bicycle Route 37, a 282-mile route from Griffith to Carmel, just outside Indianapolis.

The northern terminus of USBR 37 will be where the Erie Lackawanna Trail intersects with the Oak Savannah Trail in Griffith.

INDOT solicited public feedback on the proposed route last year.

As a result of comments at the time, routes were changed in West Lafayette, White County and Jasper County to improve the safety of motorists.

INDOT does not incur any costs to implement the bike route because it does not have to post signs marking the route

But he plans to study the benefits and costs of route signs.

INDOT states that USBR 37 is “intended for experienced, long-distance bicyclists who can comfortably ride on many facilities, including trails that are not specifically regulated for bicyclists.” “This group also consists of utilitarian and recreational drivers who are confident enough to drive on busy roads and navigate vehicle traffic.”

Andy Lavalley / Post-Tribune

Mitch Barloga speaks at the grand opening of the Veterans Memorial Way bike path in Hebron on Saturday, June 6, 2020. A new long-distance bike path between Northwest Indiana and the Indianapolis area could soon join a group of bike paths in Indiana. Andy Lavalley / Post-Tribune

Portions of some USBRs use bike paths, but most of the miles are along roads and streets.

The effort to designate USBR 37, as with other long-distance cycling routes, was led by the Adventure Cycling Association based in Missoula, Montana.

The ACA proposed a route consisting of city streets, trails, county roads, state roads and U.S. highways, and INDOT said it has received letters of support from areas the route passes through.

If approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), USBR 37 would join four other officially designated long-distance routes that stretch nearly 700 miles across Indiana.

AASHTO is the same organization that coordinates the numbering of interstate highways and U.S. routes.

There are more than 18,900 miles of USBR routes in 34 states.

“They’re trying to mimic our interstate (highway) system,” said Mitch Barloga, director of transportation planning and active transportation planner for the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission. “The more of these we have, the better it will be for all of us.”

In Indiana, USBR 36 runs through Northwest Indiana from Illinois to Michigan. Along with local trails and US 12, it uses the Erie Lackawanna Trail and Oak Savannah Trail in Lake County and the Prairie Duneland Trail in Porter County.

USBR 35 is an approximately 381-mile route across Indiana from the Michigan border in LaPorte County to the Ohio River in Jeffersonville.

Two other routes, USBR 235 and USBR 50, pass through central Indiana.

Tim Zorn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.


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