Route 20 now part of official national bike route

Already considered the most bike-friendly state in the nation, Washington now has its first officially designated interstate bike route, part of the nationwide United States Bicycle Route System.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved official recognition for United States Bike Route 10 earlier this summer.

The 407-mile route crosses the northern portion of the state, following state Route 20, from Newport at the Washington-Idaho border to Anacortes. Riders on the route will travel through five counties and 18 cities or towns, including Mount Vernon, Concrete, Winthrop, Omak, Republic and Colville.

The route also includes some challenges, including 5,575-foot Sherman Pass, the highest in Washington.

Bike Route 10 will eventually connect all the northern tier states, linking Washington to Maine, according to the transportation association.

Lynn Peterson, secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation, said the designation of the route is the product of working with partners like Washington Bikes and local communities.

It also, she said, will be another attraction to an activity that already helps Washington’s economy.

“It’s estimated by the Outdoor Industry Association that Washington could see as much as $650 million annually from bike travel statewide. These are benefits that will be shared throughout the route,” Peterson said in a news release.

“Bike travel is particularly good for small towns, since bike travelers are fueled by calories and stop many times along the way,” Washington Bikes executive director Barb Chamberlain said in the release. “Bike-friendly towns that welcome visitors are good for the people who live and ride there every day, too.”

The Washington route was just of several added to the system in June. The other routes were in Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois and the District of Columbia. The system, established in 1978, now has 6,790 miles of designated adult and child bike routes across the country. The first two routes were officially designated in 1982. The goal is to designate 50,000 miles.