Building Bicycle Tourism

May 9, 2012

Let's start this blog talking about money and connections. Meet Jean Francois Pronovost, standing here with his daughters after a weekend ride on the route network he was instrumental in creating, La Route Verte. This 4,000+ km network, one of the major projects coordinated Velo Quebec, has benefited the region by providing opportunities for bicycle tourism and intra- and inter-city commuting. The Quebec government has invested significantly in the system, knowing that the fine lines between bicycling for transportation and recreation continually overlap. The network is 40% on trails and 60% on roads (many roads with shoulders, bike lanes - even bicycle bridges!) and is widely signed. La Route Verte brings in $160 million dollars annually in bicycle tourism and the return on investment equates $134 million-plus per year.  A hospitality certification program for hotels, motels and inns helps promote bicycle travel accommodations -- think indoor, secure bicycle parking and ample breakfasts!

Expansive networks incorporate local work. With several bicycle networks in Europe, the granddaddy of them all is  EuroVelo -- the multi-national network that incorporates systems within countries (such as the U.K.'s National Cycle Network) into a long-distance bicycle tourist's dream! EuroVelo tracks spending on their network -- check out this handout from a recent presentation, which includes the financial impacts (Warning -- it's in German but you should be able to read the charts and get the idea).

Bringing these lessons to America.  Bicycle tourism is growing in the U.S. -- with the Adventure Cycling Route Network and the developing routes that are part of the U.S. Bicycle Route System, cyclists can already travel across the continent with confidence. And with the growth of bicycle tourism, we've seen some amazing spokespeople come forward advocating for better conditions and using social media, inspiring blogs, and videos to teach people how to travel by bike,  including tips for being better prepared for an overnight or muti-night adventure.

Meet Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of The Path Less Pedaled, I invite you to fan their Facebook page and follow their blog which shows how the commuter life and bike travel merge in the coolness factor.

And do the same for Ryan McAfee and Michelle Cassel of AmericaByCycle who've created some zippy and fun videos on bicycle travel.

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Warning - once you start engaging with these folks, you may loose yourself to bicycle-travel fervor forever!

Top photo Jean Francois Pronovost.

Map courtesy Euro Velo.

Middle photo by Russ Roca.

Bottom photo by Michelle Cassel and Ryan McAfee.

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BUILDING THE U.S. BICYCLE ROUTE SYSTEM (USBRS) is posted by Ginny Sullivan, USBRS coordinator at Adventure Cycling, and features news and updates related to the emerging U.S. Bicycle Route System. The USBRS project is a collaborative effort, spearheaded by a task force under the auspices of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Members of the task force include officials and staff from state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, and nonprofits like the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Mississippi River Trail, Inc.

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