Bicycles playing a bigger role in travel plans

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It may not be as obvious as the bicycling surge in urban areas, but bicycle tourism is on the rise.

Bike tourists on John Wayne Pioneer Trail

The staff at Adventure Cycling Association reports nine indications that, when people think of travel, more are considering using their bicycle. According to media director Winona Bateman, bicycle touring “is enjoying the kind of popularity not seen since the 1970s.”

There’s increased interest in all types of bike travel, from sub 24-hour overnighters to long self-supported trips, luxury to budget tours, mass bike rides to small tours.

Adventure Cycling listed these indications that bicycle travel is increasing in a news release:

— US bike events are expanding: Attendance and fund-raising at large multi-day bicycle events, such as RAGBRAI, Ride the Rockies and the Bike MS is on the rise. The association of bike tour operators, renamed Bike Tour Network, had its largest turnout ever at its annual conference in November;

— At least two states — Oregon and Minnesota — are investing in bike tourism advertising to draw cyclists to their states;

— Three states — Oregon, Michigan and Arizona — are studying the economic impacts of biking and bicycle tourism. An earlier study in Wisconsin showed that bicycling contributed $924 million to the state’s economy.

Economic impact studies in Europe find that bike tourism generates about $57 billion annually. The bike-tourist sector generates 2.3 billion cycle trips in Europe annually, and directs many to rural areas not often visited by tourists.

— Several small communities on popular bicycle routes created lodging and visitor centers for traveling cyclists;

Bicycle Retailer reported in October that, “While it’s hard to parse touring bike and accessory sales from available numbers, let alone separate commuters from actual bicycle tourists, anecdotal evidence and reports from manufacturers all suggest a definite swell in the touring market over the past several seasons.” It mentions sales of panniers and touring bikes in its report.

— The Adventure Cycling Association itself has seen growth in memberships, participation in bicycle tours, and sales this past year.

— Nationwide bicycle route networks are being created in the US and Canada. Eight states have completed portions of the signed US Bicycle Route as 41 states planning, implementing or signing the network. La Route Verte in Quebec has grown from 4,000 to 5,000 km in the past five years. Meanwhile, a 70,000 km bicycle route network in Europe, named EuroVelo, is looking toward a 2020 completion goal. More than half is already in place.

— More bicycle tour directors than ever attended the Adventure Travel World Summit in Switzerland this past year. Some tour operators are expanding into bike touring, while others, such as KE Adventure Travel, see participation in some bicycle tours doubling.


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