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25 October 2016
Measuring Cycling Tourism: Tracking Trends with Counts
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Cycling tourists bring particularly strong economic benefits to their destinations. In Quebec, cycling tourists spend 6% more than other tourists (1). Cycling tourists shop locally and spend primarily on food, beverages and lodging (2). It’s no wonder that many regions and cities seek to harness the potential of cycling tourism.

Collecting data on the numbers of cyclists using tourist-frequented routes and trails can help organizations and decision-makers reveal trends. La Route Verte, North America’s longest cycling network, has 45 counters tracking the usage of the network. In 2015, 5.8 million cyclists were counted (3).

Using automatic counters on trails and routes increases accuracy and reduces operational costs in comparison to manual counts. The baseline data is used to determine seasonal trends and to better understand how the network is used. Spikes in trail and route usage can be compared to the timing of to marketing efforts, events and initiatives.

Count data reveailing peaks in cyclist volumes as a result of events.

Count data revealing increases in cyclist volumes over time as a result of cycling events.

In 2016, Transportation Options and Ontario by Bike included automatic counts in their methodology for a Cycle Tourism Regional Assessment Research Model. Mobile TUBES are used to count in multiple locations in partnership with several municipalities. Insights will support infrastructure and product development, as well as tourism marketing efforts.

Count data can be used in combination with qualitative surveys to determine the economic impact of cycling tourism. A French study coordinated by regional tourism boards found that 736,000 cyclists used the La Loire à Vélo route in 2010. Surveys of 7000 cyclists supplemented data collected from automatic counters to determine that 15 million euros was contributed to the economy (4).

In summary, automatic cyclist counting can help achieve the following goals:

•       Communicate the value of bicycling tourism to stakeholders.

•       Assess the usage of trails and greenways or bike touring routes.

•       Monitor the impact of events and marketing efforts.

We’ll be at the National Bicycle Tourism Conference in St. Pete Beach, FL November 2-5! Attend Measuring Trends in Bicycle Tourism: From the National to Local Level at 9:15 a.m. with Eco-Counter’s Marian Mithani and Ontario by Bike’s Louisa Mursell.

Learn more about how Eco-Counter technology can be applied to bicycle tourism.

References and resources:

1) Tourisme  à vélo au Québec, Sommaire exécutif, La  Chaire de tourisme Transat.

2) UM study shows cyclists spend more money, Billings Gazette

3) Rapport Comptage 2015, La Route Verte  

4) EuroVelo Studies

Image credit: Mason Cummings, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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