Charity bike rides raise $200 million a year

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Do you like to ride your bike for a charity? You're not alone.

Roughly two-thirds of the 1,700 recreational road bicycling events held in 2008 raised money for a cause, collecting nearly $200 million for charities in the US.

That's just part of the impact that recreational bicycling events have on the American economy, according to a study by the advocacy group Bikes Belong Coalition.

In all, 1 million of us bicyclists rode in events in 2008, spending $137 million on food, lodging and other purchases at the events. The total revenue from recreational road riding events topped $240 million.

Big impact

According to the report, “The Size and Impact of Road Riding Events,” issued this week:

“Recreational riding events are important to the communities that host them, the causes they support, and the bike industry nationwide. For little or no cash investment, communities can benefit economically from recreational bicycling events of all sizes.”

An earlier study by the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association found that each ride participant generates $535 in direct economic impact.

The bike industry also benefits from these bike rides. In one ride alone, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), the average participant spent $950 on bike purchases for RAGBRAI and $179 on clothing and accessories.

Big Nine

The recreational rides described by Bikes Belong are on-road, non-race rides such as century rides, family fun rides, major charity rides and public bike tours. Brevets, mountain bike rides, club rides and all races were omitted from this report.

Bikes Belong based their estimates on a 10% survey-return rate of the 1,700 bike rides located. The staff researched separately the “Big Nine” recreational rides — Team in Training, Bike MS, Pan-Mass Challenge, Tour de Cure, AIDS LifeCycle, LiveStrong Challenges, Rodman Ride for Kids, Audi Best Buddies Challenge, and RAGBRAI.

Based on the survey results, Bikes Belong estimated that 1.07 million peope participated in recreational biking events last year. About $40 million in entrance fees alone were collected for these rides.


Slightly more than a quarter of the rides — 26% — raised money for a disease or health charity; 18% for an institution, 16% for bike advocacy, and 9% for a bike trail, path or some other facility.

The average ride raises $12,000 for charity.

The “Big Nine” — each which typically involves multiple rides — raised $180 million for charity in 2008. The biggest single event, the 2-day Pan-Mass Challenge in Massachusetts, raised a record $35 million in pledges for programs at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

The LiveStrong Challenge reported Wednesday that 21,000 participants in its four events (not all bicycling) raised $10.7 million in 2009.


Studies like this proves again that bicycling has a huge impact on charitable organizations and the American economy as a whole.

If you want to learn more about upcoming recreational bike rides like those mentioned in this report, you can check:

Charity Bike Rides for 2010

Across State Bike Rides for 2010

One-day rides in Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho for 2010.

Bear with me as I update all those records.

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