Data-driven tools empower advocates to calculate local economic contribution of bikes
What’s the economic effect when a bicycle race comes to town? How many dollars are locals pumping into the economy when they purchase bikes and bike-related gear? The answers to these kinds of questions help communities understand the dollars-and-cents value of bicycling — and now the Walton Family Foundation, PeopleForBikes, and BikeNWA are making it easier for advocates to calculate those answers.
This week, the three organizations released a series of Economic Benefit Model Templates: free, user-friendly tools designed to calculate the economic contribution of bicycling across six categories. The templates calculate economic benefits from tourism, events, retail sales tax, resident spending, bicycle business and health. Each template walks bicycling advocates, event planners, urban planners, or volunteers through the best practices for executing and analyzing a survey to determine these economic effects.
“These tools give communities across the country a chance to better understand the economic role that bicycles play in their own backyards,” said Jennifer Boldry, PeopleForBikes director of research. “We’re excited to empower advocates to better make the case that investing in bicycles and bike infrastructure will reap significant social and economic returns.”
The templates grew out of a study that the Walton Family Foundation, PeopleForBikes, and BikeNWA commissioned BBC Research and Consulting to conduct in Northwest Arkansas. The results revealed that bicycling was contributed $137 million worth of benefits to the Northwest Arkansas regional economy in 2017, including $86 million in health benefits and $51 million in business benefits.
“Northwest Arkansas is a shining example of the positive impact cycling can have on a community,” said Steuart Walton. “We hope to inspire other towns and cities by sharing the lessons and impact we’ve observed, such as the importance of quality miles over quantity of miles, the proximity of trails to downtowns and advocating for female and youth cyclists.”
The Walton Family Foundation, PeopleForBikes, and BikeNWA created the economic impact model templates from that study to give communities across the nation access to the tools to calculate their own figures.
This fall, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) will use the events template to calculate the economic impact of all of its interscholastic mountain bike races.
“We’ve seen mountain biking transform individuals and communities, and being able to calculate the economic impact of races and other events will allow us to build even stronger partnerships in communities,” said NICA President Austin McInerny.
The templates are available at PeopleForBikes.org. PeopleForBikes and BBC Research and Consulting will host three webinars on Tuesday, October 30, to walk participants through the process of using the templates in their own communities. To register for the webinars, or download the templates, head to https://peopleforbikes.org/economictemplates/.
“In addition to our Bike Network Analysis and our City Ratings system,” said Boldry, “these templates add another important tool to our suite of options available to make a strong case for bikes in communities all over the country.”