Bicycle Travel Study highlights benefits of promoting bicycle travel statewide and region-wide | Adventure Cycling Association

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It’s no secret that bicycle travel is booming across the U.S., and the state of Montana is no exception. Over the last decade, we’ve seen the number of cyclists that come through the Adventure Cycling office in Missoula double from 555 in 2002 to 1,087 in 2012. It can be difficult to capture how many adventurers hit the road on their bikes from year to year, but a few states have done bicycle tourism studies and used various means to measure the impacts. No such study had been conducted in Montana until last year, when the Montana Tourism Commission tasked Norma Nickerson, director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR), and her University of Montana Forestry class to research the existing bicycle tourism market and the potential opportunities for the state. . . .

Researchers queried cyclists who visited Adventure Cycling headquarters in 2013 or who purchased Adventure Cycling maps of Montana sections between 2011-2013. The online survey went out to a little more than 3,200 people with 718 responding. The survey asked cyclists where they traveled, what they spent, what they did while in the state, and what kinds of experiences they took away.

A few highlights from the survey found:

* Traveling cyclists spend $75.75 per day while in Montana and stay an average of eight or more nights. 41% stayed in hotels/motels or bed and breakfasts.

* Demographics: median age of 53 years; 56% with median income of $75,000-150,000 (10% earned over $200,000).

* Respondents hailed from 48 states and 18 countries, including Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Columbia.

* Trip highlights included scenic views, local hospitality, and diverse landscapes.

* Off bicycle activities included visiting historic sites (40%); wildlife watching ((37%); and experiencing local breweries (29%).

* Respondents commented on the need for better road conditions, such as better shoulder width and a reduction in rumble strips, driver education/awareness and more bicycle friendly campgrounds.

* Cyclists spent their time in small and large towns across the state, traveling beyond the recommended travel corridors on the Adventure Cycling maps.

MoBikeFed comment: Missouri is similar to Montana as a bicycle tourism destination, in that Missouri and Montana both have a pretty extensive series of national bicycle touring routes that cut through the state and intersect in different ways.

One of the most interesting outcomes of this study was the bicycle tourists don't just stick to the main, official routes. For various reasons they branch out across the state, spending time and money in communities that are relatively near (and in some cases, relatively far) from the official routes.

Bicycle tourists spend time in communities around the state--especially outlying rural communities where those tourist dollars are so important.

Be sure to check out Adventure Cycling Association's Bicycle Tourism Page for more information about how to maximize the potential of bicycle tourism in your community:

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