Since this is my first post, I figured I should take extra time to introduce myself and avoid going straight into route Nazi mode. :-D
My name is Robert Guico, from Carol Stream, Illinois. Although I have not engaged in any long-distance bicycling, I do commute to work on a bike, and have a good understanding of differences in bicycle facilities. I also am working to build up miles on the weekends.
I am also an avowed roadgeek, and so here's where the routing comes in. =)
I understand how the corridors came about - connecting important cities and destinations with as broad a brush as possible, without regard to existing facilities, so as not to limit routing options within each corridor. Fair enough, but it still looks really odd for there to be just one north-south corridor through all of Chicagoland, which would almost certainly be routed on Chicago's Lakeshore Path (and you'll not get an argument from me about that!)
Here's where I think the existing trails could provide a useful guide. The Grand Illinois Trail (http://www.bikelib.org/git/index.htm
) is a 535 mile loop, utilizing both on-road and off-road trails. The north part of the loop connects Rockford with Galena (U.S. Bicycle Routes 40/45) and Chicago (U.S. BR 66) via either Lake County or DuPage County, both of which have marvelous rail trails. (I will confess that I think it would be appropriate to designate the Illinois Prairie Path, a significant boon to the area in many ways, U.S. Bicycle Route 36 :-) )
The south part of the loop is particularly significant as it follows the bluffs along the Illinois River, and mostly off-road. It links Chicago's south suburbs with numerous parks and state parks (Starved Rock, Matthiesen, Buffalo Rock, Hennepin Canal), and, well, is the part of Illinois I wish everyone could see when they're done with Chicago. But it appears to be too far north of U.S. Bicycle Route 40 to be considered.
U.S. Bicycle Route 40 is a worthy corridor, to be sure (Davenport - Peoria - Danville - Fort Wayne, IN). But the south part of the loop should be considered for U.S. Bicycle Route 38. And the northern part, U.S. Bicycle Route 36 or 34, depending on whether or not you want to get it confused with U.S. Route 34.
Pity poor Springfield. Apparently U.S. Bicycle Route 66 prefers Decatur over you.
I keep expecting a Chicago-Elgin-DeKalb (NIU)-Rockford-Janesville, WI-Madison, WI corridor of some sort... anyone else agree?
I'm pretty excited about this system. I hope it gets the recognition, traffic, and volunteers it deserves, and I'm willing to throw my hat in.