NMDC Nears Completion of Federal Bike Route Application for Northern Maine

Work is nearly complete to federally designate a bicycle route connecting Bangor to Allagash. A route which should provide significant economic, transportation, environmental, and health benefits to residents and visitors to northern Penobscot and Aroostook Counties.

Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC), in conjunction with the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT), started the project to achieve the bike route designation. The new bicycle route would complement and connect to the existing US Bike Route One, which runs from Florida to Calais, Maine.

Jay Kamm, Senior Planner at NMDC, said the proposed route would be located on existing state and local roads and/or existing bike and pedestrian trails in the region. It is envisioned that the route will connect to the existing US Bicycle Route in Bangor and terminate in Allagash.

The draft application has been completed and will be submitted to the federal government in September.

The Northern Maine US Bike Route, which will be called US Bike Route 501, will be part of the United States Bicycle Route System (USBRS), which is the national cycling route network of the United States. It will be part of the interstate long-distance cycling routes and will utilize multiple types of bicycling infrastructure, including existing off-road trails, bicycle lanes, and low-traffic roads.

The Northern Maine US Bike Route is intended to traverse the two counties and connects to previously designated scenic byways, Katahdin Woods and Waters and St. John Valley Cultural Byway, and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The route will terminate at the Dickey Bridge in Allagash. A large portion of the proposed route from Caribou north is located on the route utilized during the 2018 BikeMaine event utilized by over 500 cyclists.

“The Route will also highlight the region’s cultural resources including, but not limited to, the Swedish Colony, Amish communities, Acadian heritage, the University System, and highlight the importance of agriculture and forestry to the regional economy,” added Kamm.

“The development of the US Bicycle Route through Penobscot and Aroostook Counties will help facilitate additional bicycle tourism and economic growth throughout northern Maine,” said Patrick Adams, Regional Transportation Planner for MaineDOT. “A 2014 study by Quebec Tourism indicates that cycle tourists spend an average $214 per day, 6 percent more than other types of tourists while cycling the La Route Verte network. Two-thirds of those surveyed plan to return for another trip. In the US, that equates to over $83 billion nationally on trip related sales in 2017.”

The route will be shown on national maps and be identified as a bicycle tourism destination. Designating a USBR creates intrastate connections to coastal Maine as well as possibilities for cross-country travel by bike, bringing out-of-state tourism spending and generating interest in northern Maine.

For more information on the project or to participate, contact Kamm at jkamm@nmdc.org or by phone at (207) 493-5757.