ELYRIA — On Adventurecycling.org, cycle enthusiasts can find an interactive map of designated U.S. Bicycle Routes, a developing national network of officially recognized, numbered and signed bicycle routes.
But a closer look at Ohio will show just one route through the Buckeye state, USBR 50 that runs through the heart of Ohio from Indiana to Pennsylvania with a cross path through Columbus.
Lorain County Metro Parks Director Jim Ziemnik said that does not mean there are not dozens of bike routes in Lorain County and hundreds in Ohio.
The local and state routes are not a part of the national system, which leaves cyclists looking to crisscross the city through unfamiliar communities unaware of what exists.
Wednesday, the county commissioners passed a resolution that hopefully could change that one day in the future. The resolution urged the Ohio Department of Transportation to advocate for established bike routes through Lorain County to be part of the national networks.
Bike routes through Lorain County are USBR 30, USBR 130 (formerly USBR 30A) and USBR 136 (formerly USBR 36A). They include such areas of Wakeman parallel to U.S. Route 20 east to Green Road and go to North Coast Inland Trail heading toward Kipton to Elyria. USBR 30 then leaves North Coast Inland Trail through Elyria east to North Ridgeville on Route 20 to Case Road, Otten Road, Avalon Drive and Stoney Ridge to Mills Road into Cuyahoga County. Also USBR 130 parallels the shoreline of Lake Erie and passes through Vermilion, Lorain, Sheffield Lake and Avon Lake.
“This is about putting us on the map,” Ziemnik said. “Otherwise it’s like having a Broad Street or East Avenue and not putting it on the map.”
Trying to get the designation — it’s not a done deal until every municipality along the route must sign off and state legislators have to support the initiative — has been on the parks district’s radar for more than three years. Ziemnik said Lorain County does a great deal of work to establish and maintain bike routes. Local use is great, but if the amenities can capture regional or national exposure it would bring revenue to the county.
“This board is very committed to the lakefront communities and their plan to develop as much activity as possible,” Commissioner Matt Lundy said. “If these bike routes going through the county can have the official designation, it will bring in revenue. I think a lot of folks if they did some quick research will find out that those that are serious bicyclists like serious foodies will spend a lot of money when they go on these trips.”
Ziemnik said he was able find a Chicago-to-New York bike trip that costs roughly $5,000 a person.
The problem is the route takes riders clear down through Indiana and across Ohio along USBR 50 and completely bypasses Northeast Ohio.
“In Lorain County, all the paths exist. We just need for them to know they are there,” he said.