Cycling alone contributes an estimated $133 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 1.1 million jobs and generating nearly $18 billion in tax revenues. But for our purposes, the key statistic is this: bicycling generates nearly $50 billion for non-cycling-sector businesses in the form of meals, hotel lodging, clothing, and entertainment.
The research on this topic in my home state of North Carolina is spearheaded by an oft-cited report released by the Institute of Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) studying the effects of cycling in the Outer Banks: cycling investments are returned nine-fold by extending vacations, drawing new vacationers to the area, and encouraging them to return again and again.
Cyclists tend to have higher-than-average incomes and educational levels, facts that businesses should be aware of when thinking about creating bike-friendly atmospheres (adding a $350 loop-and-post bicycle rack out front would be a good start). And you don’t have to be a big city or a big tourist destination to realize economic benefits: the tiny town of Scotland Neck, North Carolina pulls in a couple hundred visitors each year with their County Roads bike tour. Many of those people buy gas, hotel rooms, food, souvenirs, or all of the above.