The Kansas Transportation Department has designated 487 miles of state roadway to the cross-country route known as U.S. Bicycle Route 76, which eventually is to stretch from Virginia to Oregon.
East to west in Kansas, the route enters the state near Girard and exits near Tribune, taking in such sights as the Flint Hills and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.
The idea for the route dates to 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. Kansas is the fifth state to officially designate the route, and it now totals 2,013 miles from Virginia through Kansas. The Kansas portion was the next to be added after Missouri, and Kansas cities and counties backed the designation, officials said.
“It’s an extraordinary bike route that travels through some very hidden parts of the United States, away from major highways,” said Jeff Bowles with KanBikeWalk, a nonprofit advocacy group. “The designation of the route will increase the interest in riding across Kansas.”
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Bowles said national bike routes are valuable to small towns, attracting thousands of riders a year, and to riders who like to ride long distances and experience places up close.
“You see parts of America you just don’t see in a car,” he said.
The next goal for Kansas bicycling advocates, he said, will be to raise money for signs along the route. It includes portions of U.S. 54, Kansas 19 and Kansas 96 and follows a route known as the Trans-America Trail. More information about the route and bicycling in Kansas is available from the Transportation Department and Adventure Cycling Association.
Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King said in a news release that the route will bring in bicyclists from across the country, increasing tourism.
“We have so many wonderful places to experience and are pleased to be a part of this national effort,” King said.