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Ready For A Cross Country Trip? Grab A Bike.

Cyclists leave Ohiopyle on the Great Allegheny Passage, which now forms part of U.S. Bicycle Route 50. It is Pennsylvania's first nationally designated bike route.

Thanks to Ike and the Interstate Highway System, summer heralds the well-loved American tradition of road trips.

But that jaunt to Florida or North Carolina doesn’t have to mean four wheels, it can mean two.

Pennsylvania became the 25th state to join the U.S. Bicycle Route System, or USBRS, on Wednesday, when a 163-mile section of mostly trails was designated as U.S. Bicycle Route 50.

“Portions of the U.S. Bicycle Routes go through Pennsylvania,” said Roy Gothie, PennDOT’s bicycle pedestrian coordinator. “But this is the first one that we’ve worked through the process to have officially designated.”

There’s no cost to apply for designation, but it requires the documented support of local trail owners and municipalities.

The newly minted Route 50 includes existing trails such as the Great Allegheny Passage, the Montour Trail and the Panhandle Trail. It runs through the southwestern corner of the state, and connects to Maryland and West Virginia.

“We will be generating more people to come, ride through the state, stop in the communities, spend their dollars,” said Gothie. “And since this trail runs right up to Pittsburgh, it’s a corridor of tourism for the state.”

USBRS is a growing national bike network of almost 12,000 miles.

(Photo via Jason Pratt / Flickr