Montgomery County has rejected a proposal to join the route of a cross-country bicycle trail, saying the planned course would be too dangerous for riders.
The trail, which is under development from Michigan to Alabama, will be part of the U.S. Bicycle Route System, a planned 50,000-mile network of marked pathways directing cyclists to preferred routes. More than 14,000 miles have already been established with approval from local officials in nearly 30 states.
U.S. Bicycle Route 37 would have taken riders along C.R. 700E on Stockwell Road, raising concerns about cars traveling at high rates of speed.
Adding the county to the map wouldn’t be a “smart decision on our part,” Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Fulwider said during last week’s meeting.
“I would not personally choose to ride on that road,” added commissioner Dan Guard, a cyclist, who suggested route planners consider U.S. 52 as a safer alternative.
The routes are designated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which revived the project in the early 2000s. Route 37 enters Indiana in the Calumet Region and continues south toward Indianapolis. The course has receive support from Boone, Porter and Tippecanoe counties as well as Carmel.
Local governments often cite liability, maintenance and safety when not supporting a route, said Laura Crawford, U.S. Bicycle Route coordinator. Montgomery County Attorney Dan Taylor said designating a route without building a bike lane or path opens the door to lawsuits.
Crawford said planners typically work with local communities to address the concerns or look for other roads to use.
“It’s not the end of the line, for sure,” said Crawford, who represents the advocacy group Adventure Cycling Association, which provides technical assistance in designing the routes.