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Report: Bike-related economy worth $90 million, employs 1150 people in Portland

Posted by on September 11th, 2008 at 10:24 am

A new report has found that the total economic activity generated by bike-related industry in Portland totals approximately $90 million, a 38% increase in value since 2006.

The report — which was conducted by Alta Planning and Design (whose principal Mia Birk is the former bicycle program manager for the City of Portland’s Office of Transportation) — was conducted as a follow-up to a 2006 study.

Here are some key findings from, The Value of the Bicycle-Related Industry in Portland:

  • Total economic activity is approximately $90 million, with the largest segment in the retail sector (60%).
  • There has been a 38% increase in the value of the bicycle-related industry sector in Portland since 2006.
  • The fastest growing sector is manufacturing and distribution, currently 20% of the total.
  • The total number of companies in the bicycle-related sector rose from 95 in 2006 to 143 in 2008, a growth rate of 50%. New businesses are primarily, small and locally-owned, with the notable exception of Rapha Performance Roadwear, a national company that relocated to Portland.
  • The bicycle-related economy provides between 850 and 1150 jobs in Portland.
  • 21st avenue bicycles
    Bike shops and retail make
    up the largest segment of
    Portland’s bike economy.
  • Hand-built bicycle manufacturers increased from 5 to 17 (340% growth). This sector of the economy is growing fast and gaining significant media attention.
  • Portland is currently home to nearly 4000 annual races, rides, events and tours (an average of one ride every 27 minutes). This has nearly doubled since 2006, when the number of rides was 2100.

It’s important to note that according to study authors, this report only estimates direct bicycle-related business activity in Portland, and does not include bicycle-related benefits to residents’ health, traffic congestion, air quality, or quality of life.

The study also does not include the increasing number of businesses that use bicycles as delivery vehicles (such as Courier Coffee, SoupCycle, Hot Lips Pizza, and others).

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  • Dave September 11, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Is this PDF the entire report, or just the summary? I remember the previous report having much more detailed information. I\’d like to see more details about all this economic growth. The report mentions several growth areas (total number of bike-related companies, hand-built bicycle manufacturers, etc…) and it would be good to see the specifics of those lists. Please let us know if we can look at the raw data or access a more detailed report.

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  • Hart September 11, 2008 at 10:57 am

    In the film \’40 Year Old Virgin\’ there is a joke to the effect of: \”Who rides a bike? Bikes are for little kids.\”

    The fools.

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  • Jessica Roberts September 11, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Dave, our primary goal was to figure out the overall value (gross revenue and jobs) of bicycle-related industries to Portland\’s economy, using the same methodology as 2006 to keep the comparison clean. I actually identified some economic sectors that I think could be separated out (such as nonprofit groups and apparel/accessory production), but we wanted to keep it apples-to-apples.

    The report you see is our primary product; this was a volunteer effort we did because we were convinced the result would be valuable to all of us who are interested in promoting bicycling in Portland. As you can imagine we would love to spend even more time digging into the data we collected, but for now, as an unfunded effort, we\’ve completed our task.

    If you have questions about the source data, please feel free to send them my way and if I can answer them I will. Keep in mind, however, the survey data is sensitive business information, and we need to respect the trust of the businesses who share the information with us, so we will not be releasing any of the revenue or payroll information those businesses generously shared with us.

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  • steve September 11, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Sounds like it is time for some organizing. 1150 people. Sounds an awful lot like a Union is needed to me.

    Especially for the 60% of them trapped in retail. Workers of the world unite!

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  • toddistic September 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    hope you got a big trunk, cuz im gonna put my bike in it!

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  • Zaphod September 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    This is a great report and it can be used as part of a larger story to gain momentum for policy decisions.

    While outside the scope of this exercise, it would be great if the researchers at Alta could take a quick and dirty estimate calculating secondary economic impact. The resultant value could be used in a quick elevator pitch summary of the industry.

    i.e.
    \”Cycling adds 90 million dollars and 1150 jobs directly and contributes an estimated additional 75 million and 850 jobs. This total represents X percent of the local economy.\”

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  • JH September 11, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I agree with Steve it is sad that as a full time bicycle mechanic (of several years) in a city that moves by bicycle, I still can\’t make a decent living wage.

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  • BicycleDave September 11, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I was thinking along the same lines Zaphod. I think the total economic impact is far greater than an additional 75 million. Economists use multipliers to figure out the total impact. If 90 million is coming in to local businesses some percentage of that is spent locally which in turn is partially spent locally. Economists can estimate the impact of this and come up with a number like 7 (just guessing). Multiply 90 million by 7 (if that\’s the right multiplier) and that gives you the total impact. The multiplier in this case would be high because many of the businesses are locally owned.

    Any Economists out there know what this number would be?

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  • Donald September 11, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I don\’t know, maybe I\’m getting cynical, but I\’d love to see the actual numbers behind this statement: \”Portland is currently home to nearly 4000 annual races, rides, events and tours (an average of one ride every 27 minutes). This has nearly doubled since 2006, when the number of rides was 2100.\”

    It just isn\’t passing my own personal initial sniff test.

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  • steve September 11, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    It is sad JH. The business owners are unlikely to do anything about it.

    Unless they are forced.

    This town is host to some of the least worker friendly shops I have ever seen. If you new what the employee selling you your $6000 custom bike was being paid, you would want to slap the owner upside his head.

    At least, I do!

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  • Russell @ Upper Echelon Fitness September 11, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    This is a good study and I hope the trend continue. We all know Portland is the place to be for cycling, but studies like this are needed to convince politicians and other folks. I moved my business here because of the cycling community and can attest to the value of these studies. Great work Alta, keep it up!

    RC

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  • KWW September 11, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    A report like this is likely to swell some egos. If you see someone riding a bike wearing a cape and drinking from a pimp chalice, and its NOT zoobomb night; now you know the reason why…

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  • Jessica Roberts September 11, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Here are the sources we used for rides and events:

    SHIFT
    http://shift2bikes.org
    BonB, Zoobomb, Pedalpalooza, PUMP, etc.

    BikePortland
    http://www.bikeportland.org
    Calendar of general bike events in Portland

    Portland Cycling
    http://www.portlandcycling.net
    Good archive of all Portland bike events, Aug 07 – Jan 08

    PDOT
    http://www.gettingaroundportland.org
    Women on Bikes & Portland by Cycle rides

    BTA
    http://www.bta4bikes.org
    Kidical Mass, Bike Commute Challenge, etc.

    CCC
    http://www.communitycyclingcenter.org
    Classes, clinics, summer camp

    Portland Wheelmen Touring Club
    http://www.pwtc.com
    25-30 rides per week

    OBRA
    http://app.obra.org/
    Weekly and featured Portland races

    Mt. Tabor Series
    http://www.mttaborseries.com/
    Races (part of OBRA)

    OR BIKE
    http://www.orbike.com
    Covers the same events as OBRA and others

    Portland Velo
    http://www.portlandvelo.net
    Approx. 45 rides per month

    PUMP
    http://www.pumpclub.org/
    Weekly rides

    Bike Gallery
    http://www.bikegallery.com
    Weekly rides and clinics

    River City Bicycles
    http://www.rivercitybicycles.com/
    Weekly rides and classes

    Fat Tire Farm
    http://fattirefarm.com/
    Weekly rides

    REI
    http://www.rei.com/stores/13
    Classes and workshops

    Recyclery
    http://www.therecyclery.com/
    Bike swaps

    PUMA
    http://portlandmessenger.org/
    Competitive events

    PSU Bicycle Cooperative
    http://www.bikeshop.pdx.edu/
    Workshops and events

    Community Exchange Cycle Touring Club
    http://www.exchangecycletours.org/
    Rides, clinics

    Sorella Forte
    http://www.sorellaforte.com/
    Weekly club rides

    b.i.k.e.
    http://www.kidsofbike.org/
    Youth programs

    NW Bicycle Safety Council
    http://www.nwbicyclesafetycouncil.org/
    Senior rides and other events

    Safe Routes to School
    http://www.portlandtransportation.org/saferoutes/
    Neighborhood rides

    I agree, it is an astonishing number of events! But when you start adding up all of the weekly events, Pedalpalooza, club and training rides, Breakfast on the Bridges, Zoombomb, Kidical Mass, etc., you start to see that there are a LOT of organized events going on.

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  • Jessica Roberts September 11, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Hey Donald, I just submitted a comment listing all our sources, but it seems not to have taken. Maybe it was too long. I\’ll give you the shorter version.

    SHIFT (BonB, Zoobomb, Pedalpalooza, PUMP, etc.)

    BikePortland (Calendar of general bike events in Portland)

    Portland Cycling (Good archive of all Portland bike events, Aug 07 – Jan 08)

    PDOT (Women on Bikes & Portland by Cycle rides)

    BTA (Kidical Mass, Bike Commute Challenge, etc.)

    CCC (Classes, clinics, summer camp)

    Portland Wheelmen Touring Club (25-30 rides per week)

    OBRA (Weekly and featured Portland races)

    Mt. Tabor Series (Races (part of OBRA))

    OR BIKE (Covers the same events as OBRA and others)

    Portland Velo 9Approx. 45 rides per month)

    PUMP (Weekly rides)

    Bike Gallery (Weekly rides and clinics)

    River City Bicycles (Weekly rides and classes)

    Fat Tire Farm (Weekly rides)

    REI (Classes and workshops)

    Recyclery (Bike swaps)

    PUMA (Competitive events)

    PSU Bicycle Cooperative (Workshops and events)

    Community Exchange Cycle Touring Club (Rides, clinics)

    Sorella Forte (Weekly club rides)

    b.i.k.e. (Youth programs)

    NW Bicycle Safety Council (Senior rides and other events)

    Safe Routes to School (Neighborhood rides)

    It turns out that Portland REALLY likes bike rides and events!

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  • TechnoEarthMama » Bicycle update September 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    [...] finally, BikePortland.org reports that the bicycle-related economy is up. Stumble [...]

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  • One Ghost Industries September 11, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I would totally support a bike mechanic and/or bicycle retailers union. In a city like Portland (and US economy like ours) it is fair to say that yes, bike mechanics and retail employees (to a slightly lesser extent) deserve a fair and workable wage to support their family and legitimize the profession. Car mechanics are a respected part of any community world-wide. If someone says they are a bike mechanic for a living the majority (maybe not here in Portland, but everywhere else I have ever been) look at you like you are crazy and should \”get a real job.\” The US is behind in so many ways and transportation is one of them. I say let Portland help lead the charge! I Proletariat!

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  • Donald September 11, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    @ Jessica

    thanks. an awful lot of work to console a curmudegeon.

    I started to look at the sites and I\’ll agree, there\’s a heckava lotta stuff going down.

    But I obviously can\’t reconstruct the research from this list.

    I guess if weekly events are counted as 52 apiece, the count gets up there pretty quickly.

    Not sure how well vetted the numbers are, but I\’m no statistician, so I have little else than a journalist\’s heathly doubt.

    Thanks again for the effort to respond and thanks to everyone who makes this such a nifty place to be a cyclist.

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  • Mike September 12, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Jessica, thanks for the links just for the fact that there are many events that I didn\’t even know about! Looks like there\’s a lot of new stuff I need to check out.

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  • Jessica Roberts September 12, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Oops, now my phantom comment appeared…sorry about the duplicate content. And yes, I was also surprised at how many great events I hadn\’t heard of!

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  • Brad September 12, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Underpaid? Then go out and launch your own repair business, under cut the bike shops on prices, and keep the markup for yourself.

    You either choose to get paid peanuts or you take the capitalist risk. I am willing to bet a good mechanic who can market himself (cheap in the online age)and offers $99 winter overhauls instead of the $150 \”special\” at the shops could make a good living being his or her own boss.

    A union would likely get you an extra $1.50 an hour in wages but collect half of that as union dues. What would you really gain?

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  • Amy September 12, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    To Bicycle Dave, #8:
    The employment multipliers for the various segments of Portland\’s bicycle industry realistically range from 1.x to about 3. The manufacturing components have the greatest impact, retail has the smallest.

    The sales multipliers are lower and have a narrower range- about 1.5 give or take a few tenths.

    We can\’t get super specific, like separating bicycle manufacturing from motorcycle mfg., breaking out the tour operators from the broader category of travel services, or breaking out the bike retailers from all sporting goods retailers, but they\’re likely in the same ballpark.

    -Amy

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  • [...] An economic report from Portland shows that their local cycling-related economy has a value of $90 m…. [...]

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  • Keith Walker September 13, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Not all cities undervalue their bicycle mechanics:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxfzm9dfqBw

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  • [...] Bike industry generates $90 million in Portland, OR From Portland, Oregon: a new report shows that the economic impact of the bicycle industry in Portland has grown significantly in recent years – to roughly $90 million. Read more at KATU, with much more discussion and analysis at the excellent Bike Portland. [...]

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  • Oliver September 16, 2008 at 11:14 am

    @ 20
    \”What would you really gain?\”

    Inconsequential stuff mostly; health care, paid vacations, retirement plan, protection from summary and/or constructive dismissal.

    \”Peanuts\” is not a justifiable wage for anyone working full time. Regardless of job or industry. unless…(insert obvious circus joke here)

    Organizing a skilled trade like mechanics/techs may be doable, organizing the retail side of things probably not.

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  • [...] 2008 study in Portland clocked bicycle-related industry alone as contributing $90 million to the local economy every year. Bicycle tourism is another huge boon to regions that can attract it — in 2010, Wisconsin [...]

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  • [...] or to the car dealer. A 2008 study in Portland showed bicycle-related industries alone contributed $90 million to the local economy every year – nearly 60 percent of which came from retail, rental, and repair, with manufacturing and [...]

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