Route 66 could become a designated bike route

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WAYNESVILLE, Mo. -- "There is a group out of the Joplin area that is working with the Missouri Federation Bike and Pedestrian Association to designate Route 66 throughout Missouri as a cycle friendly, and marked for Route 66 cyclist activities," said Beth Wiles, the Executive Director of the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Her office, along with other cities in the county, as well as the county commissioners have announced their support of a plan organized in Joplin that would designate Historic Route 66 as a U.S. Bicycle Route.

"It'll help sell and market the communities, as well as provide great information for those tourists travelling the route," Wiles said.

One of the biggest reasons supporters of this plan want it to happen is because of the enhanced safety it will bring for the bicyclists. Bicyclists have already been increasing in the area, and this is expected to bring in even more.

"Part of that is remapping the sytem for areas that it is not safe, that they don't have the proper shoulders or there are certain areas, even outside of our state that move to a gravel situation," Wiles said. "A lot of them don't ride there. So, they're working hard to bring that safety measure to this program."

The State Department of Transportation needs towns and cities along Route 66 to send letters of support to them, so the route can be formally mapped and signed throughout the state.

If this passes, Missouri will be the first of the eight states to do so.

"So, we hope for a decision to be made in May, so that an announcement can be made in June," Wiles said.

There is a strict April deadline for the state agencies to submit their request for the designation to happen this year.

The group hopes to make a formal announcement on June 17th in Joplin, which is the start of the Big Bike Across Missouri Ride.