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Bicycle Travel on the Rise in the United States

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Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from an article in the Orlando Sentinel about the growing bicycle travel trend. The full article is linked below.

Bicycle travel continues to grow in North America, according to research and anecdotal evidence from tour operators and tourism promoters in the United States.

Bicycle travel is becoming an increasingly visible part of the adventure travel market, which, according to a recent study issued by the Adventure Travel Trade Association, generates $89 billion annually.

Here are some points:

  • In January 2010, researchers at the University of Wisconsin calculated that out-of-state visitors traveling to Wisconsin for great cycling opportunities generated $532 million, or more than half-a-billion dollars, in economic activity. The State of Oregon has embarked on a similar study and expects its survey to come out later in 2011.
  • Commercial tour operators in different market segments saw more interest in cycling vacations this year. “Our business has seen a 20 percent increase from 2009 to 2010 and we are off to a good start for the 2011 season,” said Tania Worgull, president of Trek Travel, which operates tours in North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. “We continue to add new destinations each year to accommodate the growing interest in bike tours.”
  • More communities create accommodations specifically for cyclists: Adventure Cycling has observed that, in the last couple of years, a number of smaller communities have created bike-only camp and hostel sites to attract riders and spur economic development. They include Twin Bridges, MT, Farmington, MO, Dalbo, MN, and Ordway, CO. These lodgings and their community impacts are regularly covered in GeoPoints Bulletin posts at Adventure Cycling’s blog.
  • Mountain bike-related travel expands: According to Ryan Schultz, director of field programs for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), “2010 has been a banner year for mountain biking. We’ve seen growth in the IMBA Ride Center program, increased interest in destination quality trails, and the opening of several innovative new trail systems that cater to casual first-timers, experts, and everything in-between.”
  • Interest rises in developing a U.S. Bicycle Route System: Following in the tracks of Europe and parts of Canada, the U.S. is beginning to develop an official U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) connecting states and cities from city to countryside. A plan was adopted in October 2008 and in the last year, 27 states and the District of Columbia have begun to implement routes to improve cycling transportation, travel, and economic development, according to the latest status report published by Adventure Cycling. In July, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the USBRS “a win for states, a win for local communities, and a win for America.”
  • Existing North American cycle network grows to more than 40,000 miles: Adventure Cycling has been developing bicycle-friendly routes and maps in North America since 1976. In May 2010, they released the 2,400 mile Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route, which boosted their total network to nearly 41,000 miles — the largest cycling route network in the world and one which provides a diverse menu of short- and long- options for bicycle travel on pavement or dirt.
  • Adventure Cycling experiences a record year: In a sign of the times, America’s bicycle-travel nonprofit and largest cycling membership organization enjoyed a more robust year than expected, with record levels of revenue, map sales, tour participants, advertising in Adventure Cyclist magazine, and cycling visitors to their Missoula, Montana, headquarters. “We saw more than a thousand people of all ages and backgrounds this year,” said Winona Bateman, media director for Adventure Cycling, “and we hope to see more in 2011!”
Read the full article.

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