A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin River Falls Research Center (UW-RFRC) and Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) has shown that mountain bike trails brought $7.8 million a year to Bayfield and Sawyer Counties in Northwest Wisconsin.
The $7.8 million can be broken down into $2.3 million in labor income, $3.2 million in total value and the generation of 118 jobs. On average, each non-local visitor to the trails expected to pay $200 per day during their visit, and spending in restaurants, hotels and motels alone accounted for $1.8 million.
Some other statistics that we noticed in the report include the fact that nearly three-quarters of respondents travelled to the area to ride the trails and the typical non-local user of the trails stays in the area for two nights during their visit. The study reported that 2/3rds of the trail users were men, a majority (56%) were 45 or over and 61% had a six-figure household income.
Conducted over the summer of 2019 and winter of 2020, the study used a combination of trailside interviews, online surveys and infrared cameras to determine the behavior of mountain bikers that visited the trails.
A table showing where jobs have been generated because of mountain biking
CAMBA volunteers administered a brief in-person survey that queried riders on their general impressions of the CAMBA trails, likes and dislikes, riding habits and preferences, and personal expenditures during their visit to the CAMBA trails. Survey participants were also asked if they would be interested in taking a more detailed online survey as a follow-up to the initial interview. This data was then added to and factored with the intercept survey data. Paper and online surveys were forwarded to the UW-RF Research Center where they were tabulated and analyzed.
The other principal component of the study was accumulating trail use data. This was accomplished by installing infrared trail counters at 12 locations throughout the CAMBA system. Counts were collected on a regular basis and tabulated at the end of the season. Trail use for the 2019 season totalled over 38,000 riders.
Ron Bergin, CAMBA executive director, said: “The total economic impact of mountain biking and other non-motorized sports in the region has always been elusive. The amount of time and work it takes to do this in a statistically valid manner is challenging. We decided to tackle this head-on and do it right. Working with David Trechter and Shelly Hadley at the UW-RF Research Center has been extremely positive and fruitful; their guidance and advice have been critical to the success of this project.”
It's great to see some more evidence of the positive impacts of mountain biking and hopefully this data can be used to justify the creation of more trails in future.
The full report can be read, here