A group of several dozen bicyclists are riding on or near Route 66 from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge near St. Louis to Chicago to have fun. But they’re also doing it to drum up support to build a bike path along the Mother Road in Illinois, reports the Bloomington Pantagraph.
Their goal is to promote efforts to build the Route 66 Trail, a paved bike path running the length of the highway’s right-of-way across the state. About 25 miles are completed, according to League of Illinois Bicyclists vice president Doug Oehler of Bloomington. A majority of those lie in McLean County in Towanda, Chenoa and Lexington.
Oehler and McLean County assistant county administrator Bill Wasson said the county, Bloomington and Normal are awaiting word on a federal grant to fund 80 percent of the path’s construction from Bloomington to Funks Grove. The communities and the county would provide the rest. Both men said the international tourist interest and the potential recreational opportunities justify the investment.
More about the current Route 66 Bike Trail can be found here.
I know that government money is tight right now because of the recession. But having at least a partial Route 66 Bike Trail of a hundred miles or so makes a lot of sense, in that it would open up a whole new avenue of tourism. That would give a slew of domestic and foreign travelers a way to explore the Mother Road in a new — and safe — way.
UPDATE: The Pontiac Daily Leader has a story about the bike ride.