Iowa looks to increase bike tourism


Photo by Ryan Grimm

For one week during the summer Iowa becomes the nation’s cycling hotspot, but what about the rest of the year? Iowa is looking to increase their bike tourism beyond RAGBRAI. The Des Moines Bicycle Collective recently created Cycle Central Iowa – a map and guide of Iowa’s best cycling routes. The Des Moines Register reports that along with promoting cycling, this new map should benefit communities economically:

Credit-card tours via bike: Elsewhere in the U.S., communities are learning that bike tourism generates welcome dollars. Multi-day trips are becoming popular. Among cyclists, it’s labeled credit-card tours — park the car, slide a credit card and a change of clothes on the bike, and point the handlebars toward low-traffic roads and trails. Along the way, eat in small town cafes, stay in B&Bs or motels, and soak up small-town hospitality. Can it get any better than this?

A survey of other states indicates that bikes matter. According to the group American Trails, “A 2008 survey of trail users on Pennsylvania’s Great Allegheny Passage revealed that 41 percent said that they stayed overnight in the vicinity of the trail for at least one night during their visit. These individuals reported spending approximately $100 per day, including lodging, while using the trail.”

American Trails added: “Our general rule of thumb regarding spending is that day-trippers from outside the immediate area spend four times as much as local cyclists, and multi-day cyclists spend twice as much per day as day-trippers. Those who take long-distance, multi-day bicycling vacations spend between $100 and $300 per day on food, lodging, and other items, with ‘credit-card cyclists’ typically near the upper end of this range.”

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