Hundreds of cyclists come through the southeast Kansas region every year, new signs will help guide cyclists who are taking the U.S. Bicycle Routes 76 and 66. 

On Thursday in Riverton, the Kansas Department of Transportation and other organizations unveiled new signs that are part of the U.S. Bicycle Routes (USBRs) 76 and 66 signing initiative. 

Present at the unveiling was Roger Lomshek who is a Crawford County Active Transportation Advisory Board Chairman, owner of Tailwind Cyclists and avid cyclist. 

“The whole idea, partly, is to educate drivers, keep your eyes open, there may be a bicycle up ahead,” he said. “Also, it lets the cyclists know that they’re on the route and at intersections it helps them stay on the route.” 

In recent years a number of cyclists have been hit by car drivers statewide and according to Lomshek, this raised awareness and motivated KDOT to do something to help prevent this type of accident. 

Lomshek hosts the annual Gorilla Century Bike ride and nearly 600 people from across the United States traveled to southeast Kansas for the event. According to Lomshek, having the signage for bicycle routes near southeast Kansas could increase the amount of people who come to southeast Kansas for similar events or rides. 

“There’s a possibility for a lot of economic impact as well as improving the quality of life for residents if we can create a safe frame of mind for bicyclists,” he said. 

According to a release from KDOT, more than 900 new road/highway signs will be placed across Kansas marking the two bicycle routes. These routes in Kansas were approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), as a result of collaborative efforts between KDOT and the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA), beginning in 2015. The USBR system connects bicycle routes across the country for safer long-distance cycling. 

USBR 76 is also known as the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. It extends more than 480 miles and runs from Greeley County on the Colorado border to Crawford County on the Missouri border. The Kansas stretch of USBR 66 is 13 miles long and runs through the southeast corner of the state, the release said. 

“Thousands of cyclists ride these routes through Kansas every year offering great tourist opportunities for the over 30 communities they pass through, especially rural towns,” said KDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Jenny Kramer in the release. “Many towns take advantage of this opportunity for economic growth and development by making their towns more bicycle-friendly and creating attractive resting and overnight spots for travelers.” 

According to the release, sign installation will begin in spring 2020 and should all be placed by June. KDOT has developed signing plans to assist with installation along the state and local systems. In addition, KDOT plans to release the 2020-21 Kansas Bicycle Map by next summer.