I feel it’s only gotten bigger.
Sure, it’s a relatively small part of the larger $730 billion outdoor recreation economy, but the jobs are clean and don’t destroy the environment.
Hell, you want a beautiful and untrammeled environment to ride your bike through!
Aside from all that money to the economy, we know that bicycle recreation also creates 1.1 million jobs in this country and produces $17.7 billion a year in federal and state taxes.
Retailers win too. They got $53 billion in sales in 2006 because of bicycle recreation.
What Montana small business doesn’t want a piece of that action?
The average spending by a person in the US on non-motorized apparel, equipment, accessories and services comes to $118 a year. When it comes to the same for children, the amount is $13.
The average amounts adults spend when recreating via non-motorized travel in the US is like so:
- Food & Drink: $15
- Transportation: $15
- Recreation: $9
- Souvenirs: $5
That's for a day trip. When we factor in overnight trips it looks like this:
- Food & Drink: $34
- Transportation: $32
- Recreation: $21
- Souvenirs: $17
- Lodging: $48
We know from the state’s January economic report that 11.7 million tourists came to Montana in 2015 and that they added $3.6 billion to our economy.
More than 2.8 million people went to our state parks and more than 6 million went to Glacier and Yellowstone.
In 2012 we know that more than 565,000 cyclists came to Montana and they spent $377 million in the state.
In January 2014 the University of Montana put out a 143-page report called Analysis of Touring Cyclists (PDF).
Here are some highlights:
- The average age of a cycling tourist in Montana is 53-years-old.
- The average household income of cycling tourists to Montana is $75,000 to $150,000.
- Most of Montana’s cycling tourists come from Washington, California, Oregon, Montana and Colorado. People from 18 different countries were identified as well.
- 92% of cycling tourists in Montana plan multi-day trips.
- The average spending of these cycling tourists is $75 a day with an average stay of 8 days. Adventure Cycling says they could be spending as much as $103 a day.
- 40% of these cycling tourists visited historical sites, 38% went to Lewis & Clark sites, 37% watched wildlife, 33% went on hikes, and 29% visited local breweries.
- Most Montana cycling tourists site their “most memorable aspects of Montana cycling” as the scenic vistas, the hospitality of locals, and the challenging aspects of the mountain passes/descents.
- Most cycling tourists want to travel 60 miles a day on their bikes.
So lots of info there about bicycle tourism in Montana.
I hope this sector of our economy grows.
Sure, it’s service-industry and it’s keyed toward tourists, but I feel many engaged in it like what they’re doing.
Hell, who wouldn’t want to go on a fun bike ride through mountain trails and get paid for it…and perhaps get a nice tip as well?
Not a bad way to spend a summer day in Montana.
There are a few main areas of the market that Montana cycling companies would want to target:
- Self-Guided Rides/Tours
- Guided Rides/Tours
- Bike Hire/Share
- Cycle-Friendly Accommodation
- Cycle-Friendly Food & Beverage
It’s clear this is a big part of our recreation economy. We can make it bigger, and places like Missoula are doing that with sponsored bike races that run through town.
I’ve seen at least two of these this year and hopefully other localities will do the same.
It creates interest and brings in people from out of state. It creates spending, and many people benefit.
It also keeps our environment clean and green.
Let’s talk about bicycle tourism more. When we do that more people will be aware of it and the state will benefit.