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Bicycling is big business, just ask Iowa

Large rides like RAGBRAI support local economies by bringing thousands of riders to small communities (Photo: Christopher Gannon/The Des Moines Register)

Bicycling generates $364.8 million in direct and indirect benefits to the state of Iowa every year, according to a new study, “Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling in Iowa.” The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, known as RAGBRAI, may be the most visible expression of this, but it is not alone.

“RAGBRAI is a huge event and known across the world.  Communities in Iowa understand the economic potential of the event.”says Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. “This study shows there is a reason to be encouraging more bicycling everyday.”

The study was conducted for the Iowa Bicycle Coalition by the University of Northern Iowa Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program (STEP).  It was sponsored by a grant from Bikes Belong, Creating Great Places, and members of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition hopes that this research will encourage the state to increase funding for bicycling. “This study indicates there is a solid return on investment through trails with more than $21 million being returned to the state in the form of sales tax,” says Wyatt. “There is more we can do, in addition to trails, to encourage more bicycling in Iowa.”

This is just further evidence of the economic impacts of bicycling.

Communities welcome RAGBRAI riders (Photo: Christopher Gannon/The Des Moines Register)

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