What are you doing on vacation this year?
Chances are if you’re driving you’ll be taking your bike with you, or if you’re flying, you’ll be visiting a city where biking tours or rental bikes are offered.
Via a tweet from Adventure Cycling Association, I read a story on Huffington Post about vacation spots increasing their offerings of cycling tours, packages, and biking outings in respond to vacationer demand.
So what’s that mean to us in Western Massachusetts?
One of the 8 points mentioned in the article by David Kroodsma stood out to me as a cyclist in the Pioneer Valley –
3. The Economy is Noticing Bike Tourists: According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, in 2010, out-of-state visitors traveling to Wisconsin for cycling opportunities generated half a billion dollars in economic activity. [link in the original]
Wisconsin offers all sorts of support to the vacationer looking to bike there, including maps, bike paths, marked cycle routes, and tourism information directed specifically to bikers. Clearly, they get a huge return on their investment.
Here in Western Massachusetts, we have a growing network of bike paths, the Norwottuck and the Manhan Rail Trails, low-traffic country roads, hills to climb, a gorgeous river, places that people want to visit, including the Five Colleges, museums, and most important to anyone who’s getting off of a bike – great places to eat!
Last weekend’s Cycle-Smart International cyclo-cross race brought over a thousand racers and spectators to Look Park for a full weekend of racing. Those racers didn’t come to tour around just then – perhaps they’ll be back with non-racing family members. But they did spent money while they were here.
Northampton, and the entire Pioneer Valley are making strides to see a huge return on it’s investment in biking. The best part is, once the tourists go home, in the words of a columnist for the Middleboro, MA Gazette:
Riding along I could see which people were natives and which were tourists. The natives had this healthy glow and contented smile. I could tell that they were thinking, “Man it’s so awesome living here.” The tourists like me, on the other hand, all had this sort of sickly pasty pallor and knew that their stay in paradise was short and soon they would be back home riding their bikes past discarded fast food wrappers and dodging trucks on roads that weren’t built with bikers or walkers in mind. [emphasis added]
Smile, Northampton, and be ready to share the joy.