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POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Navigating Illinois' Back Roads

County Zero PointRoad Names


Our routes on Illinois' county back road system is absolutely outstanding to navigate on a bicycle. The system is based on a grid type layout where most roads run due north/south and east/west and are spaced exactly one mile apart. You will be able to know exactly what direction you are going at almost times! Unlike rides in hillier parts of the country, you will almost never bike on a road that has so many twists and turns that you can completely lose your sense of direction.

County Zero Point
Every county has a "zero point". Sometimes the zero point is located on the extreme county limits, and sometimes it is just a point in the middle of the county, depending on the county. All county road names reference this zero point both in direction and distance. For example, if a road that runs east/west has an N designator that means that road is north of the county zero point. Likewise if a road that runs north/south has an E designator it is east of the county zero point.

Road Names
In addition, the number of the road increases or decreases the number of miles it is from the county zero point. For example, a road that runs east/west whose name is 2500S is 25 miles south of the county zero point. Likewise, a road that runs north/south whose name is 2000W is 20 miles west of the county zero point. So if you are traveling north from 2000N to 2500N, you know that it will be a 5 mile distance due north. It's that easy!

Most of the time when you pass intersections, they will be exactly one mile from the previous one on a straight road so it's very easy to know how far you've gone. Although some road numbers progress between 100's and some progress between 1000's depending on the county, it is still very easy to figure out on the road.

A road that runs diagonal will constantly change name. For example, if a diagonal road runs in a general northeast direction, the one sign at one intersection might call the road 2542E, and the sign at the next intersection might call the road 2660E. This is because the distance between the two intersections is slightly more than a mile because the road is diagonal. Generally the diagonal roads will maintain a consistent directional indicator.

It is important to note that the road names will change without warning as you cross county lines. So you could be travelling north on 2500E, cross the county line, and the same road will become 100W.

Sometimes the roads that we follow are main routes that have an overall common "name" but constantly change number and directional indicator. This happens when a main route has a lot of turns, but each section of the road always runs north/south or east/west.

For example, one of the roads on Bicycle Illinois on the ride from Centralia to Effingham is called "Edgewood Road." The overall name of the road stays the same as "Edgewood Road" but its number and directional indication change over each individual section of the road that runs north/south and east/west.

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