WON Landing Page March 2022

11 Indicators that Bicycle Travel and Tourism are Booming — and Changing

As 2016 winds down, bicycle tourism and travel continue to rocket upward in North America and overseas. In its fourth biennial survey, Adventure Cycling Association has found that the bicycle tourism sector in the U.S. and globally is becoming more prominent, more lucrative, and is diversifying, especially with the boom in bikepacking and off-road travel. Demand for bicycle tour opportunities is also prompting new and expanded bike route networks and facility improvements at the regional and national levels. Here are eleven indicators of how bike travel and tourism are prospering and changing.

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  1. Boom in “adventure” and touring bikes:An indicator of bike travel’s popularity is that one of the hottest new categories in bicycle sales has been “adventure” bikes — multi-purpose bikes that can be used on paved roads, gravel, and for light touring. All of the largest bike manufacturers have jumped in with new models, including Raleigh (with their Tamland 2and Stuntman), Specialized (the AWOL), and Trek (the 920). Pioneers in the adventure field such as Salsa have released new models, including the Marrakesh and they have upgraded existing models (as Surly has done with the popular Long Haul Trucker). Start-ups like Advocate Cycles are producing excellent adventure bikes for both pavement and off-road (the Sand County and Seldom Seen).
  2. Boom in bikepacking and gravel travel: Spurred by innovations in off-road bikes and bike travel gear, especially lighter and trimmer framebagsand other packs, bikepacking on single track and unpaved roads has taken off. In 2015, adventurers like Tom and Sarah Swallow successfully rode the entirety of a dirt trail across the USA originally meant for dirt motorcycles. New websites have come out (like bikepacking.com) to chronicle classic routes (such as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route or Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route) and new ones (from the Estonian Taiga to the Tasmanian Trail). New groups are forming too, like Bikepacking Roots, to promote and conserve bikepacking opportunities. There has also been a boom in gravel riding, and many states are touting their large networks of very-low-traffic gravel road networks, especially in agricultural areas (like Iowa, which boasts 68,000 miles of gravel roads).
  3. Continental and national bike route networks continue to grow:One of the biggest official continental networks on the planet, EuroVelo, continues to expand, now with 15 routes equaling  70,000 kilometers (or 42,000 miles) designated in 42 countries. The official US Bicycle Route System has grown in the last two years from 15 to 24 states and the District of Columbia, and from 6,790 miles to 11,243 miles (with a goal of reaching at least 50,000 miles in the network). More than 40 states are working on the project and many are now signing segments of the system, for example in Michigan, which is working to be a major bike travel destination. Another forthcoming continental system is the Great Trail in Canada, comprised of 15,000-plus miles of local trails. This project is slated to be completed by mid-2017, though some cyclists have cautioned about the condition of some of the trails.
  4. National and state tourism bureaus invest in promoting bike travel: Countries around the world are increasingly investing in becoming bike travel destinations.  Taiwan has finished a round-the-country route system and is marketing the island as an up-and-coming velo-destination. At the annual Adventure Travel Trade Associationconference in Anchorage, Norway and Switzerland announced major plans to promote cycling in their countries. Germany continues to be a bike travel powerhouse; according to ADFC, the German cycling non-profit organization, 10% of tourism revenue in Germany results from bike travel, and the country has increased its number of long-distance branded cycle routes to 220. In the U.S., more states than ever are promoting bicycle tourism, starting with long-time leaders Minnesota and Oregon (which is expanding its network of official scenic bikeways). Other states are stepping up, including Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, and Florida (which recently announced major investments in new cross-state connector trails and hosted a statewide conference this year on bike tourism).

Continue reading Adventure Cycling’s, “11 Indicators that Bicycle Travel and Tourism are Booming — and Changing” here.

Adventure Cycling Association inspires and empowers people to travel by bicycle. It is the largest cycling membership organization in North America with more than 51,000 members. Adventure Cycling produces cycling routes and maps for North America, organizes more than 100 tours annually, and publishes bicycle travel information including the award-winning Adventure Cyclist magazine. With over 45,000 mapped miles in the Adventure Cycling Route Network, Adventure Cycling gives cyclists the tools and confidence to create their own bike travel adventures. Phone: 800-755-BIKE(2453). Web: www.adventurecycling.org

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