Arizona is considered a destination state when it comes to getting around on two wheels. Our state’s ideal weather, new infrastructure and numerous bicycling events continue to lure cyclists from all over the country and around the world to experience riding through Arizona’s scenic landscapes.
A new study by the Arizona Department of Transportation finds that these out-of-state bicycle tourists and customers bring in a significant amount of money to our state’s economy each year. More than $88 million in economic effects is generated each year from out-of-state bicycle enthusiasts. ADOT’s study also found that approximately 39,000 in-state and 14,000 out-of-state participants are involved annually in as many as 250 bicycling events held throughout the state, solidifying Arizona’s major role in bicycle tourism.
“The degree to which bicycling affects the state’s economy and Arizona’s quality of life was not well-known before this study,” said Michael Sanders, ADOT’s bicycle and pedestrian program coordinator. “The purpose of the study was to improve that understanding among policymakers, state agencies, local governments, the transportation planning community and the general public. This report represents an important first step in trying to ascertain what is known about bicycling in Arizona and an initial effort to estimate the sizes of various types of benefits that bicycling creates.”
While ADOT’s study focused specifically on the economic impacts from the out-of-state cyclists, it was determined that the economic boost came from a variety of sources in the bicycling industry adding up to a major source of revenue for Arizona. Tourism dollars came from out-of-state bicyclists who participated in major events like the El Tour de Tucson, sales at bicycle shops from customers who live elsewhere, out-of-state tour companies that come to Arizona regularly to host bike tours and professional racing companies that come here to train their teams.
“Every dollar that came in to Arizona added up to a major economic advantage for our state and helped define Arizona as a destination state for bicycling,” added Sanders. “Out-of-state visitors clearly import dollars into Arizona.”
ADOT’s study also found that the out-of-state bicycle participants bring in more than $30 million in tourism and more than $57 million in retail sales and manufacturing annually, adding up to a total of more than $88 million in economic effects for Arizona. This has helped create a total of 721 jobs throughout our state.
This is the first study of its kind for ADOT. The department decided to keep the study narrowly focused on the economic benefits specifically provided by out-of-state bicycle enthusiasts and participants. This methodology ensures that the “substitution effect” is minimized by eliminating in-state participants who would be spending their money elsewhere if they weren’t spending it on cycling events and purchases in Arizona.
“Every dollar spent by someone from out of state is a dollar that wouldn’t have been spent here otherwise,” said Tracy Clark, an ADOT economist and researcher for the study. “But with in-state residents, they could have spent as much or more on something entirely different from cycling. Since you can’t disentangle that, you have to leave it out of the study for it to be accurate.”