RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
Friends of RAGBRAI


Economic Study Shows Bicycling Generates $364.8 Million Annually for Iowa

by Mark Wyatt, Iowa Bicycle Coalition

Iowa has been building a reputation as a bicycling destination.  As The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa™, RAGBRAI®,  begins to celebrate it’s 40th ride across Iowa cyclists continue to come fromevery state and many foreign countries.  Cities, counties, and the State of Iowa have invested in trail infrastructure to brand Iowa as the World Capital of Trails.  

It is not difficult to determine an increase of quality of life along trails or places where more people bicycle. But from a business aspect, what is the return on the investment? One statewide bicycling group was determined to answer that question.  

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition began the Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling (View Full Report) in Iowa study by working with the University of Northern Iowa Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program (STEP).  The project was sponsored by a grant from Bikes Belong, Creating Great Places, and members of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.  Research tools were created to survey Iowa bicyclists, bikes shops, and bike clubs.  

The study cites the economic impact of recreational cyclists’ spending to generate $364.8 million in direct and indirect impacts to the State of Iowa. This is equivalent to $1 million per day spent for cycling.

“The return on investment was much larger than expected.  We know that communities recognize the impact that an event like RAGBRAI has on the local economy.   But what about the rest of the year when cyclists aren’t concentrated on one route?” said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.  

In addition to being an economic generator, bicycling can curb health care costs. Iowans need more physical activity.  The Iowa Department of Public Health reports 29.3% of Iowans do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity.  The Centers for Disease Control report 67.2% of Iowan adults were overweight or obese.  Being sedentary and overweight leads to health problems increasing health care costs.

Bicycling can be part of the solution to Iowa’s health issues.  The study estimates that bicycling saves the State of Iowa $73.9 million in healthcare costs for those who cycle recreationally. Another $13,266,020 in health care costs is saved by those who commute to work.

“More opportunities for Iowans to bicycle will help Iowa become the healthiest state,” says Wyatt, referring to the Healthiest State Initiative to make Iowa number one in health and wellness.  “We know a lot of Iowans have bicycles, but may not have ridden them in some time.  We need to find ways to encourage more bicycle riding.” Trails are an investment in which 41% of Iowans use for physical fitness and 51% of the population is interested in using trails according to the 2006 Iowa Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

Encouraging bicycling means continued investment in bicycle infrastructure like trails.  The study indicates 66.5% of respondents would bicycle more often if there were more or better bicycle facilities.  “Bike lanes, trails, cycle tracks, and other treatments make bicycling more convenient than driving.” states Wyatt.  “The bicycle facility workshop at the Iowa Bicycle Summit shows how cities can integrate bicycle facilities into their community infrastructure.”  

Small investments are made each year through the Iowa Recreational Trails Fund administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.  In 2011 the legislature invested $3million for trails. $2.5 million is in the budget for 2012. Efforts are underway to see the fund raised to $3 million or more.  “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.  This study doesn’t include out of state tourism dollars and the potential in recreation tourism.  As demonstrated during the Iowa Bicycle Summit, there is more we can in addition to trails to encourage more bicycling in Iowa.”  


1 Response on “Economic Study Shows Bicycling Generates $364.8 Million Annually for Iowa

Myron Lupkes

November 16, 2013 at 4:48 pm

TJ, we are working on getting a committee together to begin work on a bike trail for Worth County. We hope to use the Top of Iowa Welcome Center as out Trail Head.

I was wondering if you have any info on how we can show our county supervisors the wide variety of the benefits of adding trails to the county.

Also how can we make ours unique from all the others.

Thanks. Myron Lupkes. 641-425-3700

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • RAGBRAI Registration for 2016 Is Open!

    Been thinking about great Iowa hospitality and all that RAGBRAI has to offer? Relax! Registration is now open for RAGBRAI XLIV!! If you’ve registered before, take note: the username and password ...

  • Coming Soon - New Online RAGBRAI Registration System

    To meet higher security demands brought about because of internet fraud, we found it necessary to upgrade our online registration system. We took this opportunity to incorporate some changes that ...

  • RAGBRAI XLIV Logo - Revealed!

    We've had hogs, corn, and tractors. We've ridden mile upon mile and ventured all across the state of Iowa. And now it's finally time to relax, and enjoy all of ...

  • RAGBRAI XLIII Survey Results

    A big Thank You to all the riders, support personnel, and volunteers who made RAGBRAI XLIII such a huge success.  We had 4735 respond to our online surveys providing a ...

  • My RAGBRAI Story: An Inspirational Tale from a First Time RAGBRAIer

    RAGBRAI XLIII was the culmination of a process that brought me from the edge of personal disaster to the brink of a new life. Just nineteen months ago I ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: Reflections on RAGBRAI from a Training Perspective

    RAGBRAI is over for another year. Congratulations on riding more than 400 miles in one week (or however many miles you rode). Not many people ever ride their ...

  • Congratulations to Ben Behrends for Winning the RAGBRAI Kid's Art Contest

    We would like to congratulate all the young artists throughout Iowa who drew, painted or scultured RAGBRAI masterpieces leading up to RAGBRAI. We hope you saw some of the ...

  • RAGBRAI® XLIII Lost and Found

    Do you recognize anything in this photo?  Several lost items were turned into us throughout the week including cell phones, keys, bike computers, eyewear and more.  All owners of wallets, ...

  • 20 RAGBRAI photos: Blue skies and countrysides

    20 RAGBRAI Photos: Blue Skies and Countrysides

  • 15 RAGBRAI photos: Creative costumes of the ride

    See some of the most outlandish outfits of RAGBRAI 2015.

Latest Videos

  • This year's logo theme is "It's time to take a break."

  • We made a new camel friend, played human foos-ball and did the required slip and sliding. Relive the 2015 RAGBRAI ride with some of our favorite moments. And get ready for the 2016 route announcement party in January.

  • "This is my gift to you guys," said pool owner Bud Henson whose house is right along the RAGBRAI route this year in Moscow, IA.

  • First time RAGBRAI rider experiences Iowa on two wheels.

  • All Ability Cycles gives bicycle rides to residents of the Hiawatha Care Center on Friday, July 24, 2015. The group gives rides to senior residents along the RAGBRAI route.

  • Jabara the camel stole the show in Mount Vernon for RAGBRAI.

  • DM Register scribes scarf more rhubarb cream pie than NPR!

  • Tony Ron, of Fort Dodge, sells jewelry made of recycled bicycle spokes to pay for a flight and visa to Ecuador.

  • Patty Ankrum explains a project in Mount Vernon to take advantages of the thousands of RAGBRAI cyclists passing through.

  • Hundreds of riders flock to Team Google's complimentary charging tent set up in the RAGBRAI meetup town.

Find us socially

Email Signup

Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).

© 2015 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy