(WAFB) - If everything goes according to plan for Bike Baton Rouge, in the next few months, cyclists around the state will be able to bike cross-country on designated paths.
This push for a rail to trails program in Louisiana is part a larger, nationwide effort by the Adventure Cycling Association to connect states using bike paths and to encourage an alternative route to travel.
Founder of Bike Baton Rouge, Mark Martin, says the designated cycling routes allow some to bike across the country for years at a time, while others opt to bike for only a few weeks.
"It'll be terrific when it's done to have a designated route that goes all the way from the Pacific to the Atlantic and comes through Louisiana," he said.
The proposed bike path, referred to as "U.S. Bike Route 90," spans across 11 parishes, covering the entire state and passing through Ville Platte, New Roads, and exiting the state in Bogalusa. The designated bike path would use parts of Highway 90 and lightly traveled back roads.
Currently, riders have bike paths around town, but they don't connect, and if you'd prefer a long distance tour, you have to travel to St. Francisville. This path is the first of its kind for the state.
Cyclist and manager of Capital Cyclery, Clayton Weeks, says this proposed path is ideal for families who like to ride with children.
"We have to have more helicopter parenting now, but it's because of the distracted driving issue," he said. "You can't send a 6-year-old or 8-year-old just to ride around. This would be one of the very few faculties that we have that is completely removed from traffic."
Leaders say if the route includes a locally owned road, it must be approved. Once the city or town gives the okay, it's up to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).
The best part about this deal, according to Bike Baton Rouge, is this path comes at no cost to taxpayers.
"It's on existing infrastructure, so there's no construction at all," Martin explained. "It's just on existing streets and roads. They're not building a path."
Bike Baton Rouge says they have only five remaining jurisdictions to get approved before they hand everything over to DOTD. They expect to get their approvals by this fall.
Click here to view all the proposed bicycle routes across the United States.