Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bike Vacations' Steady Climb

One short month ago, I was pedaling the back roads of Catalonia, following a well-marked series of signposts specifically created for bikers and walkers in France. My husband and I were traveling independently. But we were struck by how many other cycling vacationers we saw both on the trails and in the restaurants in the towns we stopped at each night (the cyclists were inevitably the loudest tables).

Who knew we were part of a growing trend?

The non-profit, Adventure Cycling Association just put out a press release on a series of studies yesterday, confirming the growth of bike travel and its importance to local communities.
  • States across the US are seeing a return on bike travel: In Wisconsin, researchers at the University of Wisconsin attributed $532 million of spending to out-of-state cyclists. Minnesota's conference on bicycle tourism attracted twice as many attendees as expected; and Oregon's biking website Ride Oregon has also far exceeded expectations in terms of the number of hits its received.
  • Commercial Tour companies are seeing growth: When we were in Spain, the tour company that helped us arrange the independent trip we took told us they had 10 different trips in Catalonia leaving the same day we did--a record. According to the Adventure Cycling Association, Trek Travel, another major international cycling company, has seen a 20% growth.
  • More interest in major cycling events: One million people participated in some 1700 events across the US, according to the organization Bikes Belong. In the course of these events some $200 million was raised for charity and nearly $600 million poured into local communities. According to the other major events organization, the terrific National Bicycle Tour Directors Association (side note: their website often lists terrific biking deals), events sponsored by its members have gone back to pre-recessionary numbers. 
My husband, biking Spain
And in perhaps one of the best pieces of news released, the Adventure Cycling Associations ambitious and forward-thinking plan to create an American cycling network garnered recognition from Secretary of Transportation Ray La Hood, when he called it "a win for states, a win for local communities and a win for America." More communities have been developing bike friendly routes and facilities; and the Adventure Cycling Association itself has made great strides, er pedals, in mapping more routes, growing the network to more than 40,000 miles. I can only hope its as good as the one in Spain sometime soon.

By the way, if you'd like to read my story on biking in Catalonia, simply click here.

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