Bicycle Tourism as a Rural Economic Development Vehicle
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At the 2011 Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism an entire workshop session focused on Bicycle Tourism. Oregon has long recognized bicycling – in all forms – as one of the state’s great assets. Travel Oregon, the state’s organization for planning, developing, and marketing travel to local, regional, domestic, and international visitors, currently markets Oregon cycling across the nation and abroad. The Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership, that Travel Oregon convenes, has been a statewide effort since 2003 and includes over 120 collaborating organizations and partners. Because the state supports cycling and promotes great cycling resources and infrastructure, bicycle tourism is one of Travel Oregon’s top three priorities for visitor experience marketing. 2 The new research presented here examines the self-contained bicycle traveler and describes nuances of these cyclists’ travel behaviors and preferences. While the study of cyclist behavior is a key component of developing bicycle tourism products, assessing communities and routes presents equally important information to match market demands with infrastructure and services. Evaluation of communities, routes, and cyclists can maximize the economic benefits bicycle tourists bring to rural economies. A cross-country field study provided assessment data of routes and ways communities across the nation interface with touring cyclists. These observations are useful to develop Oregon bicycle tourism products, and they are also useful for communities, regions, or states interested in developing or enhancing bicycle tourism, wherever they may be located in the nation. This document addresses the applicability of bicycle tourism in rural areas by: 1. Providing a contextual overview of field research, planning strategies, history of road building and bicycle transportation in America, and options for adaptively using roadways; 2. Detailing a typology of riders; 3. Characterizing preferred route characteristics; 4. Discussing different types of destinations for cyclists; 5. Presenting an overview of the economic benefits of bicycle tourism in rural communities along with assessment strategies and examples to help communities identify bicycle tourism potential; and 6. Providing a bicycle-friendly top-ten list for states, regions, and communities.