Explaining the value of buying bikes to Bicycling readers is like preaching to the choir, but the figures are so astoundingly impressive that it’s worth evaluating our purchases outside of how much #RideStoke they offer on a daily basis. Namely, we are important to the economy, and have a lot of spending power as a result.
“As the OIA Report attests, bicycling and bike-related businesses are indispensable contributors to the economies of our communities, our states and our nation,” says Tim Blumenthal, president of the national advocacy organization PeopleForBikes. “Continuing investments in better bike infrastructure are essential to keep these financial benefits growing.”
OIA’s report argues that this $887 billion figure is also a mandate: To support our sector of the economy, it’s imperative that the country commit to protection of America’s land and water, investment in access to outdoor recreation on local and federal levels, and promotion of outdoor recreation as a major part of public health policy and programming. Seems like pretty reasonable asks, right?
Many of the report’s findings also support the value of bike buying relative to things like improved human and environmental health, which also factor into spending. For instance: Outdoor recreation spending last year was nearly triple what Americans spent on gasoline annually. The report also showcased how outdoor recreation contributes to higher senses of well-being, as well as a reduction in ADHD symptoms in children. Reduced crime rates and better educational outcomes in areas with better outdoor infrastructure are also noted.
To further underscore the value of bikes to economies, OIA highlighted cities like Darrington, Washington. In 2014, Darrington suffered a devastating landslide, but has since been able to recover financially in part due to creating a mountain bike park (among other outdoor rec facilities), helping it become a finalist for the America’s Best Community award.
With this kind of economic power, what can we accomplish (apart from creating enviable gear sheds)? OIA relates collective spending to the battle over use and ownership of public lands.
“America’s outdoor recreation assets are its citizens’ common trust,” the study authors write. “Our public lands and waterways belong to every American, and they are the backbone of our outdoor recreation economy. They hold the promise of prosperity and well-being. It is as much our responsibility to invest in them as it is our right to enjoy them.”
For cyclists, the $100 billion will definitely serve as leverage in the fight for bike-friendly infrastructure and cyclists’ rights. And for the bike industry, these numbers hopefully show that the community is strong, growing fast, and eager for more gear.