Economic Rationale for Mountain Bike and MultiUse Trails

On Friday June 10th the IMBA Trail Care Crew, Leslie and Chris Kehmeier, as an opener for the very first (and very successful) RAT Fest fundraiser, presented to us the Better Living Through Trails Presentation. This 2 hour presentation is specifically aimed at the government/business/tourism entities and details the economic and wellness aspects of trails development.


Our Very own RAT Brian Scranton assembled these notes for us from the presentation.


The Economic Rationale for Mountain Bike and Multi-Use Trails

Outdoor recreation is a $730 billion market in the United States. Of that amount, more than $622 billion is spent on travel and the expenses associated with recreation (fuel, food, lodging, etc). In the Mountain states, over 60,000 jobs are created–and in Colorado alone, more than $500 million in tax revenue are realized–thanks to outdoor users.

Over the last decade, many regions have seen great success in creating, increasing and sustaining economic development through the development of trails. For example, Jackson WY invested nearly $1.7 million over the last 10 years to create a world-class trail system. In 2010, their estimated annual income associated with mountain biking was $18 million, with over $3 million coming from local residents. Grand Junction attributes $20M in annual business revenue to mountain biking and trail development.

From a health perspective, communities that build trails tend to use them. In Southern Missouri communities, 55% of the population exercise more now that their trail system has been established. And a recent University of Colorado study showed that for every $1 spent on trails (creation and use) there is a $4 direct medical benefit.

The Perfect Fit
Demographically, mountain bikers and Colorado are perfect matches. Our terrain, views and amenities appeal to “high end” clientele. In short, mountain bikers spend money and they spend it in Colorado.

• Mountain Bikers are: Male 88%, 43 year old, 73% college or post grad, $106K median income
• 50M mountain bikers in the US
• Favorite activity of kids 6-17
• There are 1.5X more mountain bikers than golfers
• There are more mountain bike voters than those age 65+
• 35% of the Colorado population bikes/more than 41% get out on trails
• 80% of mountain bikers take one big trip per year averaging a 4.6 night stay
• 45% prefer staying in hotels

What do destination mountain bikers look for when deciding on where to travel?
1. Terrain, 2. Number of trail miles, 3. Scenery, 4. Reputation

Things We Can Do to Help Trails Succeed
• Build trails to bring new people into the sport (not double black diamond)
• Show off the beauty/scenery
• Create high quality trail maps and great signage that makes traveling on trails easy
• Align political, physical, social elements to ensure success
• Focus on the community and the infrastructure before creating a “destination”
• Be patient with local, state and federal agencies–they support trails but support creating them legally, sustainably and with full community support
• Meet with private land owners–provide the facts. Invite them to meetings. Let them know the demographic that will be on the land. Inform them of trail user’s ability and desire to police the trail.

* IMBA Better Living Through Trails presentation, 2011, Outdoor Industry Foundation, 2011, Outdoor Industry Association/Leisure Trends, 2011

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