Carlsbad Boulevard, the nearly seven-mile stretch of road also known as old Highway 101 through Carlsbad, is about to get a third designation — U.S. Bicycle Route 95.

The recognition would make Carlsbad Boulevard part of a national network of routes intended to facilitate interstate travel by bicycle on roads and highways identified as suitable for cycling.

“Just like the interstate highway system, there is a U.S. bicycle route system,” said Kerry Irons of the Adventure Cycling Association. “It’s in the relatively early stage of development.”

Carlsbad will be the last city in San Diego County to approve the designation, Irons said. About 75 percent of the 1,000-mile route has been established from the California-Oregon border to the U.S. border with Mexico. Eventually, plans call for U.S. Bicycle Route 95 to extend to the Canadian border.

“The target audience here is long-distance travelers,” he said. Usually they are people who travel in small groups on bikes loaded with equipment, and who stop at motels or campsites along the way.

“It’s not perfect,” he said of the bike-route system. “If you want to ride the entire California coast, you are going to hit construction … there are places where traffic is heavy … and sometimes there are rough or sandy roads and people with dogs on leashes.”

East-West routes in the works include U.S. Route 50 from San Francisco through South Lake Tahoe and on through Nevada and Utah, and Route 66, which goes from Los Angeles through parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

The American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials created the U.S. Bicycle Route System in the early 1980s. So far there are designated bicycle routes in 24 states, used for cross-country travel, regional touring and commuting.

“Bicycle tourism is a growing industry in North America,” Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said in a letter to Caltrans supporting the designation. “As a community, we stand to benefit from this opportunity both economically and from the health and environmental related benefits of encouraging bicycle travel in our region.”

The Carlsbad City Council is expected to approve a resolution authorizing the designation at its meeting Tuesday.

Cities that agree to the designation are not required to take any additional action. No additional route markings, such as signs or bike lane markings, are required.

Groups such as the Adventure Cycling Association and the California Bicycle Coalition publish maps of the routes.

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