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Bike Summit Preview: Economic Benefits of Bicycling

We know bicycling is a simple to solution to many complex problems. One of the most pressing and politically prominent problems over the past few years has been the struggling economy, as states and cities compete to attract employers, workers, young people, and visitors, while tightening their budgets.

Bicycling has an important role in making communities attractive places to visit, live, and work. And we can prove it — with numbers. And we will at the National Bike Summit.

More than ever transportation decision makers and elected officials are open to the argument that balanced multi-modal transportation systems, that include safe and attractive bicycling and walking, have positive benefits for communities. But the message needs to be delivered without hyperbole and with real world examples close to home.

That’s what the National Bike Summit is all about: bringing bicyclists from all of the country to Washington, D.C., to tell stories from their own communities about the power – in this case, the economic power – of bicycling; and to do it armed with latest, local, regional, and national research and data.

Whether it’s in meeting on the Hill or closer to home, the best thing you can do is tell your personal story. Whether it’s about your own shopping habits by bike, a new bicycle business district, or your family’s household transportation savings to buy more locally produced goods, those stories build the credibility of the economic argument and show real-world impacts for the policymaker’s constituents.

But since we also live in a policy climate in which everything needs to be quantified, we need to marshal supporting data. At the Summit we will be hosting a panel, Bicycling Means Business: Getting the Facts Straight, to lay out the latest research on the economic impacts of active transportation, bicycling events, bicycle tourism, and the full range of societal benefits of bicycling.

The panel will be the very first public presentation of new research from:

  • Charles Brown, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, presenting “Economic Impacts of Active Transportation on New Jersey’s Economy”
  • Kristin Dahl, Travel Oregon, presenting “The Power of the Pedal: Economic Impact study of Bike Tourism”
  • Jerry Norquist, National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, presenting “The Economics of Bicycle Events”
  • Ken Colburn, Symbiotic Strategies LLC, presenting “Analyzing and Quantifying the Multiple Benefits of Bicycling” (with Christopher James)

The results of this new work are on such super-secret lockdown that I can’t even preview them here. But in the meantime you can read all about the economic impacts of bicycling in our Advocacy Advance report. To help attendees with their Hill meetings, each presenter will identify a key talking point or two from their research that attendees will be able to use in the Congressional meetings and at home.

From Travel Orgeon’s Kristin Dahl, here’s an example of how to relate a personal story to a broad economic benefits argument:

This panel alone is probably worth the trip to the Summit, but even if you can’t make it, you can learn more about the Summit and how it will improve implementation of the new transportation bill, MAP-21, by joining our Advocacy Advance National Bike Summit webinar tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. eastern. Caron Whitaker and I will talk about:

  • The current political landscape
  • Framing the message
  • The Summit  theme, the “ask”, and MAP-21
  • The outstanding lineup of speakers
  • The League’s Women Bike and Equity Advisory Council
  • And what you can do in your home district, even if you can’t make the Summit

We hope to have you on the webinar tomorrow and/or at the Summit in March. Let’s build a bicycle-friendly America!


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