RIVERTON, Kan. — Two of the nation’s most popular cycling routes, both of which pass through Southeast Kansas, were the focus of a Kansas Department of Transportation initiative earlier this week.
The state announced that more than 900 signs will go up along U.S. Bicycle Routes 76 and 66 next year.
“This will be an enhancement to tourism,” said Priscilla Petersen, public affairs manager for the Southeast District of KDOT.
U.S. Bike Route 66 travels the famous highway of the same name, which includes 13 miles in Cherokee County.
“It’s a major tourist draw already. We get a lot of international tourism on Route 66,” Petersen said. “We see that bicyclists regularly use that route.”
Bike Route 76, also known as the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, is a cross-country route that runs for 480 miles through Kansas, including Pittsburg and Girard in Crawford County.
The signs will be placed along routes approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Adventure Cycling Association, based in Montana.
The U.S. Bicycle Route system identifies routes across the country for safer long-distance cycling and currently includes 14,000 miles in 27 states, said Alex Strickland, who works for the Adventure Cycling Association.
Not all of the designated routes are marked.
“The great thing about Kansas is they are signing this route. Truly, this is the ideal scenario in doing the signage and getting the word out,” said Strickland.
Petersen said the signs help cyclists identify the route. They also improve safety for cyclists and drivers.
“Those signs should be a reminder to people in vehicles — hopefully a reminder to them — that this is a bicycle route and you’re sharing the road, to pay attention to your fellow traveler,” she said.
Among those who attended an event for the signage were Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves, and Rhys Martin, president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.
Sign installation will begin next spring and should all be placed by June, said KDOT.