A Bicycle Route Numbering System is Born

I’ve enjoyed bicycling the trails and the back roads throughout Ohio. As the bicycle trail network grew in Ohio, I became a “connoisseur” of bicycling these trails, which led me to the publication of my first book in 1996 titled “Biking Ohio’s Rail-Trails.” Although many of these bicycle trails were converted from former railroads, other spectacular scenic trails have been converted from former highways, canals, levees, river corridors and stream corridors.

As I would write and update the editions of my trail books, I would bicycle each trail, map and update the information, and take the pictures. As I biked, I noticed that a new bicycle route numbering system was emerging upon the scene in southwestern Ohio.

Beginning in 1991, a new section of the Little Miami River Scenic Trail opened between Xenia and Yellow Springs in Greene County and was designated as State Bike Route-1, similar to our highways having route numbers. Speaking with Charles “Ed” Dresseler from the Greene County Parks, I learned he was coordinating an effort to have four bicycle trails numbered within Greene County.

In 1993, the Ohio-to-Erie Trail Coalition was formed by Edward Honton with plans to build a 326-mile trail from Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland. Since the Little Miami Scenic Trail would become part of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail [OTET] and was already numbered, Ed’s dream was for the entire future OTET to become State Bike Route-1. By 1998, Greene County opened three more trails which were numbered as State Bike Routes-2, 3 and 4.

In 2000, three bike routes were expanded across the Greene County line into three neighboring counties. With no plans in sight for a statewide bicycle route numbering system, I created a proposal with a map titled “Ohio’s Bicycle Route Numbering System.” Similar to President Eisenhower’s 1950s proposal for the interstate highway system, the odd numbered routes would go south-north and the even numbered routes would go west-east. Ohio Bike Route-11 would follow the Ohio/Indiana state line, Ohio Bike Route-99 would follow the Ohio/Pennsylvania state line, Ohio Bike Route-10 would follow the Ohio River, and Ohio Bike Route-100 would follow the Lake Erie coastline.

Since 2000, Tom Recktenwalt and Hans Landefeld from the Dayton area, along with Chuck Smith from the Ohio Bicycle Federation, coordinated my proposal with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Area and the various trail and park groups to put these bicycle route numbers down on the ground for the majority of Ohio’s southwestern counties.

By 2010, there were “State Bike Routes-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 25, 36, 38, 40 and 47 totaling 13 routes in 12 of Ohio’s central & southwestern counties.

In 2012 I created an enlarged wall map for the 2012 ESRI GIS Conference in Columbus presenting “Ohio’s Bicycle Route Numbering System” to many statewide agencies. That fall, the Ohio Department of Transportation adopted my proposal for the state bike routes, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposal for U.S. Bike Routes to pass though Ohio.

In 2016, State Bike Routes-19 and 34 were added to Ohio’s system. Also, U.S. Bike Routes-50 & 50A were placed within Ohio from the Ohio/Indiana state line near Richmond, Ind. to Steubenville and the Ohio/West Virginia state line, making these Ohio’s first two U.S. bike routes.

For more information, write to Shawn E. Richardson at Ohio’s Bicycle Route Numbering System, P.O. Box 612, Worthington, Ohio 43085.

Shawn E. Richardson is the author of “Biking Ohio’s Rail-Trails.”