Delaware County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Oct. 8 to approve the proposed U.S. Bike Route 50 through a portion of Delaware County and to authorize County Engineer Chris Bauserman to cooperate with the Ohio Department of Transportation to post signs along the route.
"We were contacted by ODOT about efforts nationally to create a U.S. Bike Route 50, which would connect San Francisco to Washington, D.C., using existing bicycle facilities and existing public roads," Bauserman told the board.
U.S. Bike Route 50, proposed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, runs through Franklin County but features alternate routes, including a path through Delaware.
"The alternate route would run north out of Westerville on the trail that follows the old railroad bed along state Route 3 up to Galena, down Sunbury Road on the other side of Hoover Reservoir and east on Center Village Road into Licking County," Bauserman said.
Once in Licking County, the route connects with an existing bike path that runs from Johnstown to Newark.
The U.S. bike routes are designed to connect scenic, cultural and historic destinations in the communities they traverse.
"To my knowledge, nothing needs to be built, but it's a matter of connecting existing infrastructure and completing a bike route designation," he said.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has promised the county funding for the signs and has asked not for any money, but simply for its cooperation.
"I think the designation is the important thing," Bauserman said. "I'm not sure they'll even need signs."
Adventure Cycling will chart the main and alternate routes through central Ohio and provide pocket maps to customers. According to ODOT, the company's sales of pocket maps for cyclists have grown by 42 percent over the last decade.
ODOT estimates show cyclists generate $47 billion a year in communities that provide facilities to such tourists.
"The benefit for your consideration would be if there's increased bicycle traffic and people traveling through Delaware, Westerville and Galena, whether they'd stop and spend money at the local businesses and eateries," Bauserman said.
Commissioner Tommy Thompson recalled a Buckeye Valley teacher and athletic director from "several years ago who put the rear wheels of his bicycle in the Pacific Ocean and rode all the way to the Atlantic. No doubt cycling is becoming very popular and if ODOT is willing to assist in this project, that's a good thing."