Bicycle Travel: Growing Scene, Support, and Economic Impact

Oct 11, 2012

Bicycle travel is growing in the U.S. While it's still considered a cycling niche, bicycle touring is slowly edging its way into view of the mainstream with growing participation, growing support and infrastructure for the activity, and a growing economic impact.

Growing Scene. In the U.S., bicycle travel has always fostered a super fun culture, and not always spandex clad!

Be Australian

In the last few years, we've seen the bicycle-touring scene expand and its subculture evolve and grow. Now, we get hundreds of emails from inspired cyclists planning to cross the country, or undertake a cycling adventure, who plan to produce some kind of a documentary piece capturing the spirit of their journey: Sometimes that means something literary, or a photo-essay, but very often they are documenting their journey with video.

Blanche van der Meer has cultivated a growing community of videographers interested in sharing their bicycle-touring video projects. Her Vimeo group, WorldCycle Videos now boasts more than 1,600 videos! She is also the co-coordinator of our first Bicycle Travel Video Contest. Here's her recent bicycle-travel video from her summer tour in Ukraine.

This fall, Michelle Cassel and Ryan MacAfee of America ByCycle are cycling the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route and you can follow their trip by tuning into the website series they are producing from the road. Watch the first two episodes below!

As we've reported the last few years, fundraising rides such as Climate Ride, Bike & Build, and the Jett Ride are growing, with thousands of college students and others crossing the country (or part of it) each summer. Event rides and guided cycling tours have grown too, and more and more regional and state tourism organizations are taking notice and promoting their areas' cycling opportunities, and we're not just talking about printing a bunch of "we're bike friendly" pamphlets!

For example, check out this inspiring video about The Old West Scenic Bikeway produced by Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of  Path Less Pedaled for Travel Oregon. According to a story on BikePortland, "Kristin Dahl, senior manager of destination development for Travel Oregon, said they plan to do a similar video for each of the nine officially designated scenic bikeway routes and they'll be rolled out next spring."

Growing Support. Adventure Cycling Association's mission is to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle. In the last four years, we've enjoyed amazing support from our members and donors for that mission, seeing phenomenal growth in donations, tour participants, map sales, and visiting cyclists. We've also enjoyed enthusiastic support from cycling businesses that believe in the work we do. They've supported our programs such as the Adventure Cycling Route Network, the emerging U.S. Bicycle Route System, and  BikeOvernights.org, which provides resources and inspiration for  1-2 night adventures, and much more.

I met up with several of our business supporters at Interbike this year to thank them and to talk with them a bit about why they offer support. I spoke with many industry supporters including QBP Sales and Marketing Director Jason Gaikowski, Primal Wear President Dave Edwards, Jay Ferm, advocacy director for Planet Bike, and Michael Gilstrap, president of  Walz Caps. These companies are very committed to cyclists and to improving conditions for cycling. Here's a quick video playlist from Interbike in which they tell why. It's so inspiring to see the cycling industry's commitment to bicycle travel!

Growing Sales & Economic Impact. Of course, more cyclists mean more sales, and meals, and ice cream consumed! And from product sales to tourism dollars, bicycle travel is impacting the economy, particularly at the local and state level. Ginny Sullivan reported at length last week about the economic impact of bicycle travel in Europe and shared a great infographic displaying the impact in the U.S. from Bicycling Means Business (PDF), the League of American Bicyclists' recent report.

Of course for us, some of the best proof is that each year we're greeting more and more amazing visiting cyclists at our headquarters in Missoula, MT!

Photo from ddsiple on Flickr, taken by Ron McClure

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NEWS, NETWORKING, AND NEW MEDIA highlights cool media (articles, videos, photos, etc.) and meet-ups related to Adventure Cycling and bicycle travel. This column is usually written by Media Director Winona Bateman. Writing a story about bicycle travel or Adventure Cycling Association? Contact Winona via email at pressATadventurecyclingDOTorg. Visit our media room, view our news releases, or follow us on Twitter.

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