Study: Bicycling Generates $365 Million in Economic Activity in Iowa

About $1 million per day, or $365 million per year —  that’s how valuable the cycling industry is in Iowa, according to a new study by University of Northern Iowa.

The Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) is a major event in Iowa promoting cycling. A new study says those types of investments are paying big returns in this rural state. Photo: ##http://ragbrai.com/galleries/ragbrai-2011-on-saturday/?pid=3606## RAGBRAI##

That’s not all. According to the study, about $74 million in health care costs are saved in Iowa annually thanks to recreational cycling activity. Commuter cyclists prevent another $13 million in avoidable healthcare spending.

In addition, about $21 million in sales tax revenues are generated for Iowa through the cycling industry, the study found.

Wow. Even the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, sponsors of the study, were surprised by just how much money cycling brings to this sparsely populated, rural state.

“The return on investment was much larger than expected,” said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the organization.

Iowa spent about $3 million on trails last year and is planning to spend about $2.5 million this year. But the Iowa Bicycling coalition is pushing for the full $3 million.

It’s needed, according to the study. Researchers found that 66 percent of Iowans would bicycle more if there were better facilities. That could have a big impact on the 67 percent of Iowa’s adults who are overweight or obese.

“We know a lot of Iowans have bicycles, but may not have ridden them in some time,” said Wyatt. “More opportunities for Iowans to bicycle will help Iowa become the healthiest state.”

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Study: Sharrows Don’t Make Streets Safer for Cycling

|
Sharrows are the dregs of bike infrastructure — the scraps cities hand out when they can’t muster the will to implement exclusive space for bicycling. They may help with wayfinding, but do sharrows improve the safety of cycling at all? New research presented at the Transportation Review Board Annual Meeting suggests they don’t. A study by University […]

Does the Gender Disparity in Engineering Harm Cycling in the U.S.?

|
A study published in this month’s American Journal of Public Health finds that highly influential transportation engineers relied on shoddy research to defend policies that discourage the development of protected bike lanes in the U.S. In their paper, the researchers point out that male-dominated engineering panels have repeatedly torpedoed street designs that have greater appeal […]

There’s No Doubt: Traffic Enforcement Cameras Save Lives

|
Gawker dished out some richly-deserved ridicule to Tennessee State Senator Jon Lundberg yesterday, following reports that he is co-sponsoring legislation to outlaw the specific speeding camera that nabbed him doing 60 in a 45 zone last October. Lundberg denied that the incident had any impact on his decision to sponsor in the legislation, and contested the […]

More Evidence That Helmet Laws Don’t Work

|
If you want to increase cycling safety in your city, drop the helmet law and focus on getting more people– particularly women — on bikes, with street designs that offer separation from vehicle traffic. That’s the finding of a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia [PDF] evaluating safety outcomes for cyclists across Canadian […]