Biking generates $364.8 million annually in Iowa
Bicycling in Iowa contributes $364.8 million to the state economy, according to a new study by the University of Northern Iowa Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program. "This is equivalent to $1 million per day spent for cycling," a press release from the Iowa Bicycling Coalition pointed out.
"The return on investment was much larger than expected," said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the coalition. "We know that communities recognize the impact that an event like RAGBRAI has on the local economy. But what about the rest of the year when cyclists aren't concentrated on one route?"
"This is most certainly helping Iowa," Samuel Lankford, a student at the University of Iowa and co-author of the study, told BikeRadar.com. "We have 61 bicycle specific shops in the state of Iowa, a small number by comparison of places like New York State, but they sold over $8 million in bikes last year, $1.9 million in clothing sales, $4.2 million in accessory sales and $3.6 million in repairs. The payroll is nearly $4 million a year for these shops and employment is about seven employees per business."
Lankford said these numbers do not include big box store bike sales. "So the total impact of bicycling in Iowa generates $354 million a year with an employment multiplier that indirectly supports 6,300 jobs statewide," he said.
The study, titled "The Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling," also estimates that recreational bicycling saves the state of Iowa $73.9 million and bike commuting saves an additional $13.2 million in state health care costs.
Forty-one percent of Iowans use trails for physical fitness, according to the 2006 Iowa Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. And 66.5 percent of respondents to the survey on which the study was based said they would bicycle more often if there were more or better bicycle facilities.
In 2011, the Iowa Legislature invested $3 million in trails and budgeted another $2.5 million for that purpose in 2012.
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