Portland’s drop in car use frees up $138 million in our local economy every year

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Per-person car ownership is down 7 percent since 2007 and miles driven are down 8 percent.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland unless noted)

Last month, we wrote about the 38,501 additional cars and trucks that would be in Multnomah County right now if its residents still owned cars at the rate they did in 2007.

What does it cost to own 38,501 cars? Or more to the point, what does it not cost to not own them?

For that post, we focused on the amount of space those nonexistent cars would take up. They’d fill a parking lot almost exactly the size of the central business district, for example.

But what about the money that isn’t being spent to move, maintain, insure and replace all those cars, and can therefore be spent on other things? How much money have Portlanders collectively saved by having a city where car ownership (or ownership of one car for each adult) feels less mandatory than it used to?

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Scenic Bikeways pump $12.4 million into Oregon economy, study says

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Results from the first study of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways are in: The 12 carefully selected routes that showcase the best road riding in the state accounted for $12.4 million in economic activity in 2014.

The Economic Significance of Cycling on Oregon Scenic Bikeways, commissioned by Travel Oregon and Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, was published earlier this month by Dean Runyan Associates. The study gathered data on overall usage of the bikeways as well as where money was spent and the bikeways’ impacts on job creation.

Scenic bikeways are the backbone of the State of Oregon’s strategic focus on bicycle tourism — an industry that pumps $400 million into our economy each year. The program was established by law in 2008 and the first scenic bikeway became official in 2009.

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State embarks on effort to quantify Oregon’s bicycle industry

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Bicycle frame and component manufacturer
Chris King Precision Components employs over 100
people in northwest Portland.
(Photo: Chris King Precision Components)

Earlier this month we learned that bicycle-related travel pumps $400 million into Oregon’s economy each year. Now Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism development and marketing organization, has embarked on the second part of that research project: a comprehensive look at the economic impact of bicycle-related industry.

Travel Oregon released the Bicycle Industry Survey yesterday to begin data collection for the study. Here’s more from them from the email announcement:

The bicycle industry in Oregon is a unique and growing part of our economy. To get a better handle on the size, characteristics and growth of this industry, a research project has been launched to gather current data that is not available from any existing sources.

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

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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.

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Portland Biz Journal editorial: “Bicycling serves as economic tool”

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A reader just made me aware of a recent editorial in the Portland Business Journal that deserves wider attention.

Given the fact that there remain some powerful business interests who feel that Portland’s inevitable march toward better bike access on our roads is at odds with their bottom lines, the PBJ editorial board stood up and blew that idea out of the water. (This is especially great to see from the PBJ because when the Bike Plan for 2030 passed in February 2010, I called them out for a misleading poll.)

In a piece titled “Bicycling serves as economic tool” that appeared in the July 6th edition, the paper makes a compelling argument for why bikes are not only good for business, they’re key to Portland’s economic future. The article is behind a paywall, but a reader was nice enough to send me the hard copy so I can share more of it with you.

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Report will assess bicycling’s economic impact in Oregon

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This “wish list” was created at the 2008 Oregon Bike Summit.
(Note the top thing on the list!)
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As Oregon’s bicycle tourism movement has matured over the past 4-5 years, one thing proponents have been clamoring for is a comprehensive study that measures the impact bikes have on our statewide economy. In order to get more political respect for bike tourism and bicycling in general, the thinking goes, advocates must be able to prove what we all know to be true in theory — that Oregon reaps an immense economic boost from bicycles and the people that ride them.

I’m happy to report, that such a study is in full swing. Travel Oregon, who is spearheading the project, has also just released an online survey that will play a key role in the project.

According to Kristin Dahl with Travel Oregon, there are two main components to the study: One of them will look at bicycling’s economic impact from a recreational and tourism perspective; the other will quantify Oregon’s bicycle manufacturing and retail industries. (Note: The study will not assess the economic impact of riding for transportation.)

Here’s more from the project’s scoping document:

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

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“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.

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Summer reading: Economic benefits of bicycling

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An economic engine.
(Photo © J. Maus)

When you’re trying to save the world, who has time for romance novels and gossip magazines? If you’ve got some spare time over the long weekend or on your summer vacation, consider brushing up on the economic impacts of bicycling.

At Metro’s Quarterly Trails Forum earlier this week, Alta Planning and Design CEO Mia Birk made a presentation about the economic impact of trails.

After the meeting, Metro staff circulated a five-page handout titled, Economic Benefits of Bicycling Resources. The list was compiled by Alta (or at least it was on their letterhead).

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