PeopleForBikes, the Walton Family Foundation and BikeNWA have made it easier for those in the bike biz to calculate the pounds-and-pence, and dollars-and-cents, value of cycling.
The trio has released a series of Economic Benefit Model Templates, which are free, user-friendly tools designed to calculate the economic contribution of cycling across six categories: tourism, events, retail sales tax, resident spending, the bike business, and health. Each template walks cycling advocates, event planners, urban developers and volunteers through the best way to determine the respective economic effects of each sector.
Jennifer Boldry, PeopleForBikes Director of Research, said: “These tools give communities across the country a chance to better understand the economic role that bicycles play in their own back yard. We’re excited to empower advocates to better make the case that investing in bicycles and bike infrastructure will reap significant social and economic returns.”
“In addition to our Bike Network Analysis and our City Ratings system, these templates add another important tool to our suite of options available to make a strong case for bikes in communities all over the country.”
In 2017, the three organisations commissioned BBC Research and Consulting to conduct a study in Northwest Arkansas regarding the economic effects of cycling. The study found that biking contributed $137 million worth of benefits to the Northwest Arkansas regional economy, including $86 million in health benefits and $51 million in business perks.
Steuart Walton, of the Walton Family foundation, said: “Northwest Arkansas is a shining example of the positive impact cycling can have on a community. We hope to inspire other towns and cities by sharing the lessons and impact we’ve observed, such as the importance of quality miles over quantity of miles, the proximity of trails to downtowns and advocating for female and youth cyclists.”
The Walton Family Foundation, PeopleForBikes, and BikeNWA created the economic impact model templates from that study to give communities across the nation access to the tools to calculate their own figures. Some organisations are already getting on-board with the idea; this Autumn, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) will use the events template to calculate the economic impact of all its interscholastic MTB races.
NICA President, Austin McInerny, said of the decision: “We’ve seen mountain biking transform individuals and communities, and being able to calculate the economic impact of races and other events will allow us to build even stronger partnerships in communities.”
The templates are available to view online here. PeopleForBikes and BBC Research and Consulting are set to host three webinars on 30 October to explain to participants the process of using the templates in their own communities. You can register for the webinar here.