Convincing communities that bicycling makes dollars and sense

What's one of the best ways to get business and government leaders to support bicycling? Convince them that bicycling brings dollars into their communities.

The Bikes Belong Foundation realizes this and is launching a $40,000 fund this year that pays for research into the economic benefits of bicycle infrastructure and events.

Research over the years has shown that community investment in bicycling has huge dividends. Some of these findings were summarized in a slideshow — “The Economic Benefits of Bicycling” — that the Adventure Cycling Association presented to the South Dakota Bike Summit last week.

Bikes Belong

The Foundation is the charitable arm of Bikes Belong Coalition, the U.S. bike industry group that aims to get more people on bicycles by making bicycling safer. They support Safe Routes to School and Bicycle Friendly Communities, among other pro-bicycle efforts.

The bicycle grant research program will fund $40,000 to academic and non-profit researchers in 2011 in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.

Two such projects in Portland and the Allegrippis Trails in Raytown Lake, Pennsylvania, already are being funded by the foundation. Applications for funding are being sought by a March 31, 2011, deadline. Check the press release for more details.

Adventure Cycling Association

Meanwhile, the Adventure Cycling Association has created a slideshow that tells how to lure bicycle travelers to communities and the economic advantages of doing so. Although focused for the South Dakota Bike Summit, its findings are applicable anywhere.

For instance:

Wisconsin gains $534 million annually from out-of-state bicyclists

Quebec hotels and restaurants along La Route Verte gain $160 million a year;

Minnesota reports $427 million a year from recreational road and mountain biking;

The Great Allegheny Passage in Maryland and Pennsylvania reports visitors spend an average $98 per day;

Colorado's ski resort areas earn $200 million a year from bicycling in the “off-season.”

Those economic numbers don't even touch on the improvements in health and general well-being experienced from bicycling.

The Adventure Cycling slideshow does tout those intangible benefits and shows bicycling fits the bill for people seeking more recreation closer to home during the recession.

We can expect that these studies described in the Adventure Cycling Association slideshow and funded by the Bikes Belong Foundation will give us more tools to encourage communities to invest in bicycling.

More at “Recreational cycling has big impact in Wisconsin.”


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