We build parks for people. That might sound a little simple, but the simplest of ideas is often what is actually true. We build bike parks and bike trails because we know what great spaces can do. We know that it can improve physical and mental health. We know that it can provide youth and adults alike with an outlet for stress and anxiety. There was a time when mountain biking existed on the periphery of sport in Canada but we know that as we create spaces for people to experience it that changes and it becomes simple. Like riding a bike.
But there are some other reasons why building a bike park in your community makes sense. One of those reasons has to do with dollars and cents.
The experience economy is growing. Where once golf stood as the main reason that anyone with money went anywhere, individuals and families are loading up the bike rack and heading across the country and the continent looking for great places to ride. There is a certain degree of economic impact just from having a bike park in your town. Bike shops do better when people have great places to try their products. Health stores and sporting good stores also reap the benefits of people enjoying a physically active lifestyle.
But there’s a big picture as well.
People who come from away need a place to stay. They need food to eat. And everybody loves a good knick knack. The experience economy brings money from away and directs it into the businesses that serve that community. Restaurants, hotels, coffee shops. They all stand to gain when people come from far and wide to ride your trails and parks.
The average rider is a male between the ages of 25 and 44. This is a generally affluent demographic and when they come to town, they bring their wallet. They spend upwards of a hundred dollars a day per person and if you give them a good enough reason, they’ll stay a while. The social nature of mountain biking means that you rarely find a lone rider. They travel in packs.
These adventures don’t even begin to speak to event hosting. These groups of riders are great but when riders descend upon your community in droves to enjoy an event, that brings a significant influx to your community. And if people enjoy themselves, they’ll come back. And they’ll bring their friends. And their families. And their wallets.
All of this thus far has been about what comes in. This doesn’t even begin to speak to what is saved. Medical costs from a society that is overweight and underactive can cost a community a fortune. And we know that physically active lifestyles mean healthier people (except for when they mess up a run and break their clavicle…but that’s another story).
The truth is that there are some absolutely altruistic reasons to build a bike park in your community. It’s good for the body and it’s good for the soul. But the truth is that a great trail or a great skills park is good for the financial health of your community.
Eco-tourism and the experience economy are both growing and mountain biking is located comfortably on this wave. We are growing and we will continue to grow so as long as we build spaces to do so.
So let’s build something.
See below for a little light reading…
Economic Impacts of Mountain Biking Tourism – Lee Lau
New Zealand’s Nelson-Tasman Areas