14 Oct The Impact and Economic Benefit of Cycling Events
How Economic Benefits of Cycling Events Outweigh Impacts
Calling all avid cyclists! Did you know that Bicycle Passport seeks to create cycling routes across all Colorado mountain passes over 10,000 feet? Dubbed The Quest, cycling up and over each of the 41 mountain passes would mean completion of your “passport.” The app provides information such as route maps, rider reports, and general area information.
One of these mountain passes is traversed via the Eisenhower Tunnel, a 4-lane vehicular tunnel located approximately 60 miles west of Denver, Colorado.
Unfortunately, the Colorado Department of Transportation, or CDOT, has denied requests to open the Eisenhower Tunnel to bicyclists for a 2-hour window on a slow Sunday morning. Without the CDOT’s permission, the accomplishment of a Colorado Bicycle Passport, of conquering Colorado’s tallest mountain passes on a bicycle, will remain unachievable.
Why is this of paramount importance? What benefit could such a cycling event have on a community? Let’s explore the positive economic impact similar cycling events have had in other locations.
Holland Tunnel, Bike MS NYC
New York City, New York
An annual event to support research on Multiple Sclerosis, the 30-mile Bike MS NYC tour traverses not only the Holland Tunnel, but the George Washington Bridge, Battery Park Underpass, and sections of several main parkways as well. The use of these roadways occurs from early in the morning until mid-evening on the day of the event.
In addition to raising money for a worthy cause, and despite the inconvenience of the bicycles on the bridge, the Bike MS NYC event also provides a financial boost to the local economy. The event concludes with a Finish Line Festival where participants eat free, but friends and family purchase meal tickets. Various vendors of food and beverages diversify the selection at the festival, and nearby businesses benefit from the influx of hungry, thirsty event attendees.
Cycling the Erie Canal
Also located in New York, the Erie Canal runs from Albany to Buffalo and sees an 8-day cycling event every summer. Though this cycling event does not require access to any roadways, the large volume of cyclists renders the trail nearly unusable by other pedestrians during the event.
A study commissioned by Parks and Trails New York, The Economic Impact of the Erie Canalway Trail, shows that cycling tourism provides as much as $250 million in sales to the New York economy each year.
Rhode Island East Bay, 4 Bridges Ride
Rhode Island Bay, Rhode Island
The 4 Bridges Ride crosses the 4 bridges connecting Conanicut Island and Aquidneck Island to the mainland, crossing the Rhode Island East Bay. The 26-mile cycling event takes place in September and causes partial closures to the 4 bridges for which the event is named.
Sponsored by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Foundation, proceeds from the cycling event benefit Save the Bay, a non-profit whose goal is to protect Rhode Island’s vital waterways
Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways
Oregon has 14 “scenic bikeways” located along picturesque roads across the state. In 2014, the state conducted a study on the economic significance of cycling these byways and found a $12.4 million economic impact. This spending supported over 150 jobs and created $3.4 million in earnings for the state.
Economic Beneficiaries of Cycling Events
Event Facilities and Hosts: The organization and physical location hosting a cycling event reap the benefit of event-related payments such as entrance and vendor fees.
Event Vendors: Though vendors pay to set up shop at these events, they more than make u for their vendor fee through sales to event participants. Vendors can include outfits selling food and drinks, bicycle gear, and apparel.
Local Shops: Bicycle maintenance, food, and entertainment are all examples of the needs of those attending a cycling event. In addition to the event participants, friends and family attending the event also need access to these amenities. A cycling event brings all of these people, their needs, and their wallets to the host location.
Transportation: Like access to food and entertainment, attendees to a cycling event are more likely to use public transportation. This is not only due to the increased area traffic the event creates, but also because those who ride bicycles are much more likely to utilize mass transport.
Lodging: Cycling event participants, as well as the friends and family who accompany them, will need lodging during a cycling event. Lodging options in host towns are often completely booked during cycling events.
Economic Impact of Bicycle Tourism in Colorado
Studies can be found for more than half the states in the U.S. that clearly show the positive economic impact bicycle tourism provides. Colorado is no exception.
A study published in October of 2016 found that of the $1.6 billion of both health and economic benefits provided by bicycling in Colorado, $522 million was due to bicycle tourism. Of that $522 million, $185 million was due to goods and services sold by Colorado’s bicycle industry to out-of-state tourists (bicyclecolorado.org) and $338 million was spent by 1.7 million bike-riding visitors on other tourism-related industries.
In a state that already reaps immense benefits from cycling, it only makes sense that Colorado would continue to pursue and support bicycling events that capitalize on this source of economic prosperity.
The Proposed Eisenhower Tunnel Bicycle Event
As previously mentioned,
About the Tunnel
The Eisenhower Tunnel carries Interstate 70 under the Continental Divide and the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 11,158 feet. One of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world, the Eisenhower Tunnel is the longest mountain tunnel and the highest point on the United States Interstate Highway System. The tunnel is approximately 1.7 miles long and sloped at less than a 2% grade.
In 2013, the entire tunnel was closed to allow the hosts of the tv show Top Gear USA to drive a supercar through the tunnel. While this stunt no doubt provided beneficial publicity for Colorado, a cycling event would provide equal amounts of publicity with the added financial benefits of tourism a cycling event provides.
Bicycle Passport would like to provide routes enabling cyclists to traverse all 41 Colorado mountain passes over 10,000 feet. Since one of these passes requires access to the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70, we have asked the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide bicycle access to the tunnel for a single event on a day with low motor vehicle traffic. This would allow those who wish to complete The Quest to check this mountain pass off their list as a group.
Like similar events that take place across the United States, and even in other locations in Colorado itself, this event would no doubt create a tangible, positive economic impact for the areas surrounding the Eisenhower Tunnel.
If you, like us, believe the Colorado Department of Transportation should rethink their stance on allowing bicycles access to the Eisenhower Tunnel for a single cycling event, consider signing our petition.
To learn more about the proposed event visit Bicyclepassport.com.