Bike industry generates $778 million for Minnesota’s economy in 2014, says DoT study

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A new research report published assessing the economic impact and health benefits of cycling in Minnesota has concluded the state benefited to the tune of at least $778 million.

Sponsored by the state’s Department of Transportation and prepared by the tourism center’s Xinyi Qian, the researchers set out to put a figure on the worth of the local cycling industry, events, use of cycling infrastructure and related health benefits.

Starting with the trade, the study concludes that the state’s 5,519 bicycle related jobs equated to $209 million in labour income and a estimated economic activity worth of $778 million in trade.

The first study of its kind in the state, the researchers were guided by cycling industry feedback on design of questionaires. Qian’s team surveyed a wide range of manufacturing, distribution and retail outlets, as well as advocacy organisations as part of their research.

With the number of cycling trips in the state placed between 75.2 and 96 million annually, 69 to 72% of which take place in the Twin Cities’ metropolitan area, the study first focuses on everyday cycling. This commuter and leisure activity represents between 12 and 61 prevented deaths per year in health terms, said the study, saving between $100 and $500 million in costs. These savings come with the associated 46% lower odds of metabolic syndrome, 32% lower odds of obesity, and 28% lower odds of hypertension.

Having tallied the worth of cycling to healthcare, among other benefits the author’s suggest investment in further cycling infrastructure could pay dividends. The report offers:

The findings demonstrate people have an interest in bicycling across Minnesota, and there is (latent) demand and support for increased bicycle facilities and networks. The findings can help identify demand and support for bicycle facilities throughout the state that align with priorities identified in the Statewide Bicycle System Plan. The findings also indicate the importance of facilitating bicycling safety, as safer bicycling infrastructure and networks will likely lead to more people bicycling and more bicycling trips.

Official events – ranging mountain biking events through road, fundraising efforts and High School events – were said to be worth $14.3 million in economic activity during 2014.

Interestingly, the findings conclude that all types of cycling primarily feature non-hispanic white male participants, furthering the evidence of an industry-wide dilemma; how do we attract both females and non-white males? That question is well posed in our recent interview with Robin Bylenga, owner of U.S.-based Pedal Chic and believer that the women’s market has vast untapped potential.

To read the full Minnesota report DoT, click here.