Thursday, April 17, 2008

Is it just me, or ... ?

During a week of riding in Fruita a few years ago, my brother and I ate breakfast six feet away from a restaurant table full of old farmers in denim overalls and the caps they got from fertilizer and tractor companies. They were drinking coffee and telling stories like they always had before Troy Rarick opened a bike shop and got his buddies to help him build a world-class trail network.

A little more than a mile away, the front desk at our hotel contained a small sign telling guests that there was a bike-washing station available. All we had to do was ask, and we’d be given old washcloths and towels to help get the job done. When my brother asked if the hotel had any scrubbing brushes, the clerk said no, then eagerly asked us to tell her what kind we needed so that she could go buy some. The hotel’s management had clearly figured out that mountain bikers were good for business.

Ever since witnessing the juxtaposition of Fruita’s agricultural past and it’s mountain-bike-tourism present, I’ve been fascinated by how this sport can improve a community’s economy. And I’ve always hoped more towns would see the light.

IMBA and Shimano are now trying to help that happen with a brochure on the economic benefits of our sport. You can download it free from IMBA’s “Resources” page and read all the cool facts, like:

  • Mountain bikers now outnumber golfers in the United States.
  • In direct expenditures alone, mountain biking pumps $26 billion into the U.S. economy every year—that’s 1.5 times as much as NASA’s discretionary budget.
  • The voting strength of American mountain bikers is more than 1 1/3 the voting strength of Americans 65 and older.
  • The annual value of Moab’s mountain bike trails is estimated at $8.4 million to $8.7 million.

The list goes on and on. It can make a person wonder why mountain bikers have to fight to get new trails built, and old ones opened to bikes.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for municipal, county and state governments to start planning and paying for trails that would bring them economic benefits?


Groover said...

In Australia for several years in a row now the number of bicycles sold was higher than the number of cars sold annually. Do you think the government takes notice and builds more bike tracks or bike lanes? No, they are building more roads. Guess there is more $$$ in selling cars than bicycles?

Amber said...

As a side note to your final thought:
Common sense is a dwindling factor.
No they will never figure it out.