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Outdoor Industry report says recreational cycling pumps $81 billion into U.S. economy each year

Posted by on June 20th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

“Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets ($51 billion).”
—The Outdoor Recreation Economy, 2012

The Outdoor Industry Association just released their annual report on The Outdoor Recreation Economy. The report looks at spending on gear and travel for all the major outdoor activities and also calculates the “ripple effect” that spending has on the economy.

Bicycling is one of ten “activity categories” analyzed in the report (along with camping, fishing, hunting, motorcycling, off roading, snow sports, trail sports, water sports and wildlife viewing.)

According to the report, Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets ($51 billion). That $81 billion is spread between $10 billion on bikes, gear, and accessories and over $70 billion on bicycle “trip related sales.” The direct economic impact of that spending supports 772,146 jobs. The report claims that the “ripple effect spending” of all this bicycling activity is over $198 billion and supports 1,478,475 jobs.

Page from the report

Overall, bicycling as an activity category is ranked third in spending behind only camping and water sports.

The OIA says outdoor recreation is an “overlooked economic giant.” With annual spending at $646 billion, it’s third in total annual consumer spending behind only financial services/insurance and health care spending. By way of comparison, total annual spending on motor vehicles and parts is just $340 billion.

These numbers bode well for Oregon’s efforts to boost bicycle tourism. Travel Oregon is currently working hard to showcase our state’s burgeoning network of official Scenic Bikeways and they’re also working on their own bicycling economic impact study. Stay tuned for more on all those fronts.

— Download a PDF of the report here.

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  • 9watts June 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Very interesting.
    “outdoor recreation annual spending at $646 billion… total annual spending on motor vehicles and parts is just $340 billion.”

    I wonder about the overlap of those two categories. Or, put another way, how much of outdoor recreation spending is for motorized equipment?

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    • q`Tzal June 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Or more specifically: how much of the $70 billion for “trip related activities” out of the total of $81 billion also is part of the $50 billion “airplane tickets” set?
      Venn diagram anyone?

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  • SilkySlim June 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    That’s a lot of trickling down. 81 billion dollars spread over 300 million Americans comes to $27,000 of impact per person.

    I understand that every dollar spent is spent again and again, but that claim sounds waaaay bold.

    Even if every cyclist in Oregon bought an Armani suit from Skymall during a cross-country flight, I doubt we could hit those numbers.

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    • 9watts June 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      = $270 per person actually

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      • SilkySlim June 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

        I stand corrected!!! Sounds feasible to me now.

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  • easy June 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    $81 Billion just on bicycle pumps!? ;-)

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    • Pete June 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Heck, I spent that on tubes just last week!

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      • Paulie June 21, 2012 at 9:08 am

        You need to get a patch kit!

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  • Paulie June 21, 2012 at 9:08 am

    That $81 billion is spread between $10 billion on bikes, gear, and accessories and over $70 million on bicycle “trip related sales.”

    Is that $70 million a typo, or is the math wrong?

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  • dwainedibbly June 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Does this include money spent on transportation cycling as well? That’s very different from recreation and continues the American myth of bicycles as nothing but toys.

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  • peejay June 22, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I’m increasingly of the opinion that recreational cycling stands in the way of transport cycling. I’m glad people have fun on their bikes, and race them and go off-road and all that, but those activities dominate public perception of bikes, and turn bikes into “toys”.

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