PERU – The Nickle Plate Trail, along with dozens of miles of roads in Howard and Tipton counties, has been designated to be part of a national bike route that runs from Canada to Kentucky.
The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials designated the route Friday as U.S. Bicycle Route No. 35.
In Indiana, the 360-mile route runs from Michigan at the La Porte County line to Jeffersonville, just north of Louisville, Kentucky, connecting county roads, city streets, several state highways and a variety of off-road trails.
The bikeway follows the Nickle Plate Trail through Miami County, and then cuts over to Indiana 19 in Cassville to run through Howard and Tipton counties.
Each segment has been approved by the jurisdictional owners for use as part of the national bike route system.
Officials say the route will later be extended through Kentucky and Tennessee as it makes its way to the Gulf Shores.
“So many of the communities along the route were eager to support bicycling and tourism in whatever way they could, so it's wonderful to have these routes officially designated on the U.S. Bicycle Route system,” said Nancy Tibbett, executive director of the nonprofit Bicycle Indiana, which advocates for the rights of bicyclists.
The north-south route runs through diverse Indiana topographies and ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, country areas, fields, pastures and the built environments such as villages, towns and cities.
The AASHTO Friday also designated two other national bike routes that run through the state. Those bikeways travel from Terre Haute to Richmond, and around Lake Michigan from South Chicago to the Michigan state line.
“The designation of these routes puts Indiana at the crossroads of a budding network of national bicycle touring routes,” said Vince Caristo, a board member of Bicycle Indiana. “This is a good thing for Indiana, since studies show that bicycle tourism is growing rapidly, and that bicycle tourists spend more and stay longer than other travelers.”