Bike Tourism 101

At it’s most basic, Bicycle Tourism is a strikingly simple idea. Encourage people on bikes to travel to or through your community, invite them to stay the night or eat a meal or visit the local museum, and rake in the economic benefits.

The reality is that it’s really just that simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy, and it’s important to develop thoughtful offerings, welcome new visitors, and reach out to the right people.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the concept of Bike Tourism grow from a seed of an idea to something that’s studied and measured in destinations across the world. The bicycle industry is leaning on adventure travel to sell new products, and an ever-increasing number of success stories prove that bicycling is no longer a niche activity.

• In 2012, Travel Oregon commissioned an economic impact study of bicycle-related travel throughout the state. The results came back to the tune of $400 Million per year.

• In 2011, Iowa released the results of their study, which showed an annual economic impact of $365 Million.

• At the 2015 National Bicycle Tourism Conference, representatives from the Great Allegheny Passage relayed that the car-free rail trail annually attracts 1 Million visitors and generates $100 Million in economic impact.

Increasingly, communities are using Bicycle Tourism to spur economic development. And the results are encouraging – for both likely and unlikely destinations.

While we encourage communities to start from where they are now, it’s not enough to just say “Bicycling Happens Here,” and hope that visitors will flock to your destination.

• Focus on offering essential services. Where can bike travelers fill up their water bottles? Are public restrooms available?

• Consider how a bicycle traveler will interact with local businesses. Is there a safe place to park a loaded bicycle while eating lunch? Will a business owner ship a purchase so the bike traveler doesn’t have to carry it with them?

• Create bike-friendly accommodations. Can bike travelers roll their bikes directly into their rooms? Is there an acceptable place for a bike traveler to pitch a tent?

• Build a welcoming environment. What needs to happen so that residents are supportive?

• Make it easy for travelers to find the information they need. Do you have an online presence so that a bike traveler can plan their trip in advance? Where can someone access information about routes and bike-friendly accommodations once they’re in town?

• Build a signature route program. Which routes are the best of the best? How can a bike traveler learn about these routes and experience them?

With a few thoughtful considerations, communities can grow into successful bike travel destinations.

For further information, check out the following blog posts:
What is Bicycle Tourism
5 Ways Bicycle Travel and Touring Are Changing
If You Sign It Will They Come: The Old West Scenic Bikeway A Year Later
Bike Tourism Success Stories

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