What Do Bikes, National Parks, and Beer Have in Common?

December 26, 2017

Cyclists enjoying a traffic-free Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park for Ride the Drive.

What do bikes, national parks, and beer have in common? The New Belgium Brewing Company.

If there’s one brewery that “gets” biking, it’s New Belgium. In 1988, Jeff Lebesch, the company’s co-founder returned from riding his fat tire bike across the Belgian countryside, and two years later, Fat Tire became one of the company’s first beers — a “craft beer icon inspired by the Belgian brewing tradition.” But New Belgium is more committed to biking than just incorporating a cute bike into their logo to market to cyclists.

America’s Best Idea

New Belgium has supported Adventure Cycling’s advocacy partnership work with national and state parks for the last three years and renewed their support this year with a $4,000 grant. In 2016, for Adventure Cycling’s 40th anniversary, they also committed to incorporating a special Bike Your Park Day label on seven million beer bottles, promoting the inaugural event to encourage people to explore their parks and public lands by bicycle. So not only is bicycle advocacy at the core of New Belgium’s values, but so is supporting our parks, or as Wallace Stegner called them, “America’s best idea.”

A New Belgium beer bottle, one of seven million, sporting the 2016 Bike Your Park Day promotional label

The Power of Partnerships

Adventure Cycling has made it a priority to develop partnerships with parks to improve bike travel and tourism. In 2013, we signed an agreement with the National Park Service that has been instrumental in enabling us to partner with priority parks, like the Natchez Trace Parkway, Glacier, Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. We have also attended the National Association of State Parks Director’s conference for the last three years, and are working to build partnerships with state park systems. 

More specifically, our goals are:

  1. Improving safety to and through parks,
  2. Improving bicycle accommodations, policies, and infrastructure in parks,
  3. Building better multi-modal connections to parks,
  4. Promoting bicycle tourism in parks.
The Natchez Trace Parkway installed new safe passing signs last March.

Successes

So how have we been putting New Belgium’s dollars to work to accomplish these goals? Just in the last year, we’ve seen the fruits (hops?) of our advocacy work:

  • January: Adventure Cycling began a joint bicycle safety campaign with Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • February: Shenandoah installed bike repair stations along Skyline Drive, thanks to a crowdfunding effort by the Shenandoah Park Trust.
  • March: The Natchez Trace Parkway installed 53 bike safety signs along the 444 miles of parkway, and gave away 200+ bike lights to help cyclists be more visible.
  • April: Shenandoah hosted Ride the Drive, a car-free day, with 1,000+ participants despite a bad weather forecast.
  • May: Glacier’s bike shuttle service carried 4,413 riders with 1,470 bikes during the spring car-free season (April through June); Glacier also learned that they received $76,000 in federal funding for a bike safety study of Going to the Sun Road.
  • August: Shenandoah permitted a 24-hour pilot bicycle ride on the Madison Run administrative road, which is normally off-limits to bicycling.
  • September: The second annual Bike Your Park Day inspired over 9,000 people to ride in their parks and public lands on September 29; Amtrak provided improved bike service for 52,870 bikes in fiscal year 2017, offering more options to visit parks without a car.
  • October: Adventure Cycling learned that we’re the recipients of the National Park Service’s Centennial Award for our work on Bike Your Park Day.
  • November: The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal received $1 million in funding for surface improvements to a section of the towpath.
  • December: Adventure Cycling provided final input and feedback for a new guidebook documenting best practices and case studies for biking and walking in national parks (including how to do car-free days), which will be published in early 2018.

So the next time you crack open a Fat Tire after a ride, you can feel extra good about supporting a company that supports Adventure Cycling. 

Top photo by Saara Snow | Photo 2 by the Natchez Trace Parkway Association | Photo 3 by N Lewis of Shenandoah National Park. 

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BUILDING BICYCLE TOURISM is written by Ginny Sullivan and Saara Snow of the Travel Initiatives Department and focuses on the growing national movement to build bicycle tourism, including economic impacts, bike friendly tips, multimodal travel, and resources for destination development and marketing.

Comments

Accidental FIRE

As someone who rides the C&O Towpath pretty regularly, and goes out to Shenandoah once in a while, I appreciate what you guys are doing! I will continue supporting Fat Tire by buying it wherever I see it!

December 26, 2017, 5:32 AM
Reply
Saara Snow

Thanks for your support!

January 2, 2018, 4:14 PM
Reply
Craig

Thanks to ACA and New Belgium.

I was lucky enough to take part in a couple of these. We did Ride the Drive in April and had an outstanding time. In September we rode Bike Your Park Day in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. And although we did not make it to Glacier early enough to catch the shuttle we were lucky enough to ride Going to the Sun road over Logan Pass the day before it opened to cars for the year.

I renewed my membership today and now I am headed to the grocery store to pick up some Fat Tire.

January 2, 2018, 2:45 PM
Reply
Saara Snow

Thanks for your support Craig! Glad to hear you enjoyed both Bike Your Park Day and Ride the Drive, and a car-free Going to the Sun Road is such a bucket list ride. It was a good year for cycling!

January 2, 2018, 4:13 PM
Reply
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