Investing in Bicycle Infrastructure to Spur Statewide Economic Growth Through Bicycle Tourism

Background Bicycle tourism is proving highly beneficial to local economies, particularly in small towns and rural areas. Bicycle tourism is a proven economic boost to states (the "Registered Annual Bicycle Ride Across Greater Iowa" is estimated to generate upward of $350 million annually; bicycle tourism alone in Colorado has an estimated economic impact of over $700 million annually; and Wisconsin estimates $535 million in revenue from out-of-state bicycle tourism). Bicycling, particularly bicycle tourism, is on the rise nationally. But currently Nebraska lacks designated routes in rural areas and on-street bicycle infrastructure outside of cities are limited. There are individual efforts to connect communities via rail-to-trail projects (e.g., Cowboy Trail and MoPac Trail), but no organized effort to facilitate the creation of bike routes and build bike related features into highway projects. This stems from associated perception of risk and the additional costs. Intuitively or anecdotally, these routes would: (i) direct bicycle traffic to safe routes and away from more hazardous ones (such as busy freight corridors), (ii) capitalize on existing bicycle facilities in communities and regional ongoing rails-to-trails projects, (iii) aid in long-term planning for prioritizing bicycle treatments where they are most likely to be used, and (iv) foster economic development in communities across Nebraska. NDOT will be developing a state bicycle route, and concurrently this research will assess the economic impact of such a route so as to better inform NDOT bicycle-related planning activities and return-on-investment of taxpayer dollars. We will a review of the impacts of bicycle tourism in neighboring (e.g., Iowa and Colorado) and other applicable (e.g., Oregon and Wisconsin) states to understand what Nebraska can do to maximize the economic benefits of bicycle tourism through bike infrastructure investments. Objective The objective of this work is to first conduct a robust economic impact analysis based on current recreational bicyclist volumes in the state of Nebraska (using data from the "Strava" app, already collected by the Co-Pl) of the impact of bicycle tourism on the state. From there, future economic impacts of bicycling and bicycle tourism to the state of Nebraska will also be estimated based on growth-scenarios for increasing bicycle tourism (and associated economic impacts) for the state, while considering capital costs for NDOT in bicycle infrastructure. Then, using the results of the economic impact analysis, our final report will include economic impacts at multiple applicable geographies (from the state down to the zip-code level, depending on TAC priorities). Results will be essential for planning for maximizing benefits of bicycle tourism for all types of Nebraska communities (i.e., identifying key infrastructure needs, policies, and potential industries that should be put in place alongside investments in a bike route).


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    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $62,704.00
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Nebraska Department of Transportation

      1500 Nebraska 2
      Lincoln, NE  United States  68502
    • Project Managers:

      Halsey, Lieska

    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Nebraska, Lincoln

      1400 R Street
      Lincoln, NE  United States  68588
    • Principal Investigators:

      Piatkowski, Daniel

    • Start Date: 20190701
    • Expected Completion Date: 20201231
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: Transportation, Planning, Research, and Development

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01705675
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Nebraska Department of Transportation
    • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: May 23 2019 3:49PM