Bicycle Tourism Economics
Consider the economic impact of a family taking a 200-mile automobile trip. A “back of the envelope” calculation – along with 2012 and 2014 reports from Dean Runyan Associates – comes up with one stop for gasoline and possibly snacks. One stop for a meal and one night’s lodging.
Now consider the economics of the same family bicycling that 200-mile trip. Fifty miles/day, not an insignificant distance, bumps up the lodging requirements from one night to four and the one meal prediction becomes 12. Studies of annual economic impact found:
- $400 million (Travel Oregon Commission)
- $900,000 (Friends of Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway)
- $14 million (Friends of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene)
Pedaling the Palouse, available from the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, outlines the 35 miles of paved bike paths, the 100k Annual Tour de Lentil, single track mountain biking, and other hilly low-traffic riding opportunities, like Pullman to Steptoe Butte, via Palouse and Garfield. Highlighting local museums, galleries, eateries and spectacular scenery, the Palouse welcomes bicyclists to “come and see”.
The state-owned Colfax-Albion-Pullman Rail Corridor, a $2 million taxpayer purchase saving the rail line from abandonment in 2005 became a Pullman Civic Trust project. When completed, it would extend our trail system with a 5o-mile linear trail from Colfax, through Albion to Pullman and across the state line to Moscow, Troy and Bear Creek Canyon near Kendrick, ID.
Bill Chipman Palouse Trail – A Look Back
Stretching 7.1 miles along former Union Pacific Railroad line, providing a mostly level paved pathway connecting Washington State University and the University of Idaho, this bicycle, inline skating, walking, cross-country skiing, wheelchair accessible trail was dedicated April 4, 1998, after 12 years of community vision, perseverance and donations.
While dollar amounts directly contributed to communities in the Palouse from bicycle tourists can be hard to accurately calculate, their economic benefits to our communities is real:
- Health-conscious resident bicyclists often “buy local”
- Bicycle tourists “eat local”
- Bicycling employees also “buy local”
- Bicycle tourism funnels customers to out-of-the-way communities
- Bicycle tourists tell others about our region’s businesses and quality of life