‘Scenic Bikeways’ help power Oregon bike tourism to $400 million annual impact

It’s been another big momentum-building week for bicycle tourism in Oregon. Yesterday, during a special hearing on bicycle tourism at the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee in Salem, representatives from Travel Oregon released a major new report on the economic impact of bicycle-related travel. Also yesterday, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department named two new Scenic Bikeways.

The Travel Oregon study, The Economic Significance of Bicycle-Related Travel in Oregon Detailed State and Travel Region Estimates, 2012 (PDF) is the same study we gave you a preview of back in March when preliminary findings were released at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C..

The study was conducted by Dean Runyan Associates and it looked at bike tourism’s impact throughout the state during 2012. The big number — which garnered a headline in The Oregonian and has been adjusted up since our story in March — is $400 million. That’s how much people “involved in bicycle-related activities” spent in Oregon last year. The data was gleaned from an online questionnaire followed up by interviews with selected households. All told, 5,000 people who rode bikes in Oregon last year took part in the study.

Here are a few more of the key figures:

  • Total travel expenditures are equivalent to approximately $1.2 million per day in spending
  • Travelers who participated in bicycle-related activities spent $174.6 million on accommodation and food services, $53.5 million on groceries, $71.5 million on motor fuel, $31.9 million on bicycle/cycling event fees, and $27.9 bicycle repairs, clothing, and gear.
  • In addition, this bicycle-related travel spending directly supported about 4,600 jobs with earnings of approximately $102 million.
  • The bicycle-related travel spending also generated local and state tax receipts (lodging taxes, motor fuel, and travel-generated state income tax) of nearly $18 million in 2012.
  • In the Portland Metro area, bicycle-related trip expenditures totaled $89 million (the most of any of the seven travel regions studied) and created 700 jobs.
  • In the Gorge/Mt. Hood travel area, 14.8% of all tourism expenditures are bicycle-related.
  • 64.8% of bike-related travelers were men and 35.2% were women.
  • Just over 50% of all bike-related travelers were between the ages of 45-64.

And a few graphs:

Bike-related trips by activity type.

Bike-related trips by travel region.

This detailed, 55-page study will prove invaluable to advocates, the media, and policy-makers. As The Oregonian reported yesterday, “Cycling’s not just hip and healthy; it’s becoming big business in Oregon.”

One key reason for the ascension of bike tourism in Oregon are initiatives like the nation’s first State Scenic Bikeway program. Yesterday, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) announced two more bikeways — Tualatin Valley and Madras Mountain Views — to bring the total number of specially designated bike routes throughout the state to 11.

Here’s more about each route from OPRD:

The Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway features the best of the northern Willamette Valley, from friendly downtowns to fertile farmlands and lush natural areas. Set in the heart of Washington County, the Bikeway covers more than 50 miles one-way, and includes the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

The Madras Mountain Views Scenic Bikeway is a 30-mile loop on rural country roads with Central Oregon volcanic views, pastoral scenery showcasing basalt palisades above the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers and stunning views of the iconic Cascade peaks of Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood and Three Fingered Jack.

Detailed maps, cue sheets, and information on accommodations and amenities along both routes are available at RideOregonRide.com.

Read more articles on this tip via our bike tourism page.

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9 years ago

Great report! As always, the comments to the Oregonlive story are priceless.

9 years ago

Wow, those Oregon live comments are head shaking, I knew I shouldn’t have looked.

Way to fight the good fight Kenji!

9 years ago

Overall, very cool. But no cycle tourists who are trans or genderqueer? I find that hard to believe. Also, disappointing to see that more was spent in auto fuel than bike events, repairs and gear together.

9 years ago

Speaking of Travel Oregon, they had an ad on TV last night about cycling in Oregon.

9 years ago

As usual, the bike haters are well represented on the O’s website.

Three years ago I rode the Great Allegany Passage (GAP) trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. There communities proudly proclaimed they were “a GAP Trail Community” on signs along the trail. The number of casual cyclists (no helmet, no Lycra, rented bikes) was astounding. It was apparent the businesses recognized cycling’s benefit.

I’ll wager that even when Oregon tourism cycling becomes a $2 billion contribution, the O’s haters won’t back off.

9 years ago

I am a Seattle resident who makes frequent trips to Portland with my family to ride bikes. For the longest time, I thought we were the only ones because whenever we check into one of our regular hotels, we are often greeted by the front desk with some variation of “Hey, it’s the bicycle family! Welcome back.” Apparently, though, we are not the only ones. That’s awesome.

Portland is a really attractive place to visit for leisure cycling because of its varied and well-connected infrastructure, bike culture, nice weather (compared to Seattle) and (if I’m being honest) great restaurants. It’s a place where you feel safe cycling with kids, which is not the case in Seattle.

Visiting Portland gave me a completely new perspective on my home city. It turned me into an amateur advocate for cycling up here because I have seen first-hand, from Portland’s example, how cycling infrastructure could one day make my city a better place.