This surely isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, but it certainly bears repeating: Creating long-distance bicycle routes and trails draws travelers on two wheels who spend money.
Twenty-seven Canadian communities will learn that this summer when a new, 370-mile section Ontario’s Waterfront Trail will be opened along the north shore of Lake Erie.
Coming in the slipstream of that trail opening will be 200 bicyclists on the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure Bike Tour. More will surely follow on their own and in small groups.
To learn about bicycle tourism, local merchants are attending seminars to learn the benefits of being bicycle friendly. according to the Windsor (Ont.) Star.
One suggestion, for instance, is for hotels to provide secure storage for bicyclists and provide information that touring bicyclists would find helpful. Wineries are told to install bike racks so passing bicyclists will be encouraged to stop.
Merchants along an older section of the Waterfront Trail already know that bicyclists create an economic impact.
The original Waterfront Trail stretched for about 450 miles along the north shore of Lake Ontario and up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec. It connected 41 communities and 180 parks and other natural features, including Niagara Falls.
That Lake Ontario section of the Waterfront Trail has been the destination for the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure Bicycle Tour the previous four years. In 2012 alone, the 250 participants spent $73,000 (Canadian) on accommodations and food. That’s in addition to the registration fees that included three meals a day and camping.
In 2010, visiting bicyclists spent $391 million in Ontario. That’s about 3% of all expenditures by visitors to the province that year.
The economic impact of cyclists using that long-distance on- and off-road trail can only increase with the addition of the Lake Erie section that creates a 820-mile bike route along the northern shore of the lakes.
More information about bicycling in Ontario can be found at the Welcome Cyclists Network .