Low angle view of a bicycle with rider traveling on a paved surface

Bike route for Oklahoma portion of Route 66 approved

© iStock - lzf
Merrilee Gasser | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Historic Route 66 in Oklahoma is one step closer to becoming a part of the U.S. Bicycle Route system, which is expected to bring additional sales tax revenue to cities on the route.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved funding to put signage along more than 400 miles of the bike route, according to Jared Schwennesen, a district manager with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT). 

The bike route will include parts of state highways, city streets and county roads and connect to segments in neighboring states that already have been designated as bike routes, according to ODOT.

The Oklahoma Bicycle Coalition, a state bike advocacy group, has been pushing for the historic route to be designated as a U.S. Bike Route for years and said the designation would increase tourism income for communities along Route 66 and help cyclists with better maps and signage as they travel.

“The designation of U.S. Bike Route 66 will have minimal impact on Oklahoma state or local municipalities’ budget,” the group wrote on its website. “In fact, riders will add to the government's coffers through lodging tax, sale taxes, and other taxes such as the transportation tax.”

Receiving the designation would mean Route 66 would become part of a national network of bicycle routes, Schwennesen said. He told members of the commission last week ODOT began the process in spring 2021 with state Reps. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, and John Talley, R-Stillwater, backing the initiative.

“ODOT worked with local agencies, bicycling advocates, Route 66 advocates and the Lieutenant Governor’s office to select a route that both honors the historic route, while also planning for a comfortable and scenic cycling route,” said Schwennesen, who added the department has received more than 20 letters from cities, counties and towns along the selected route voicing their support.

The route would connect to parts of the U.S. Bike Route 66 already designated in Kansas and Missouri.

The ODOT will take their plans to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in the spring where it is expected to receive formal national designation and be added to the U.S. Bicycle Route System.