Corridor Plan Updates & Routing Within Corridors / Re: New Corridor Connecting St Louis to Louisville??« on: November 25, 2009, 06:29:50 pm »
Sorry for the delay! I've been meaning to write you, but kept getting distracted.
As it turned out, my plan was a little ambitious, especially for the hilly first day in Indiana. I ended up taking four days, along this route.
I thought 161 was great for cycling. I found it a little hillier than expected, but much better than Indiana, and with much less traffic than 50.
I know there had been some question about how safe it would be to take the state highway 64 bridge into Mt. Carmel, and I agree that for beginner cyclists this would probably be a bad route to take. I didn't have any trouble with it though (around rush hour, even), and I think that anyone doing a bike tour would be experienced enough to feel comfortable crossing at this point.
You asked about what could be done to make cycling in/through this part of Illinois more attractive for cyclists. I would recommend putting together a map that could be used by local and through cyclists. A number of counties in southern Indiana produced "The Bike Route", which I found enormously helpful when plotting my route.
Although I didn't end up camping there, Sam Dale lake seems like a convenient place for cyclists to stop. It would be encouraging if there were one or two other published, convenient places for cyclists to pitch a tent. Oftentimes, cyclists don't need very much at all - just a place to sleep. If any town/city parks or church yards would be open to letting cyclists do this, it would be helpful to identify them on the map.
Another way of making the area more inviting to cyclists would be to encourage local cyclists & others to join Warm Showers, a cyclist hospitality website.
Finally, to really make things encouraging, you could partner with folks in Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky to publish a suggested route all the way from St. Louis to Louisville and/or Cincinnati. Maybe it could even go further west to the Katy Trail and/or Kansas City! A trail of this length would definitely get people's attention.
Hope that helps! I'd love to hear if anything comes of it.