Bicycle Tourism in Maine: Economic Impacts and Marketing Recommendations

Uses studied:
Place: Statewide


This study found that bicycling tourism in Maine is associated with modest spending, largely because nearly all bicycle tourists in the state are day users. Developing long-distance rail-trails and multi-day self-guided tour routes could help increase the number of cycling tourists and increase the economic impact from cycling, particularly in rural communities.


This study uses three proposed trails as case studies, as well as including a general, state-wide analysis. These case studies provide a helpful overview of reasonable ranges for use and expenditures on trails in urban versus rural areas and trails used by locals versus tourists. The estimates provided in this analysis should be read as approximations as they are based on secondary data from other studies.


This study is statewide across Maine.

Trail Type

The study assessed cycling statewide, as well as on three proposed rail-trails ranging in length:

  • Downeast Trail, 135 miles,
  • Mountain Division Trail, 40 miles, and
  • Eastern Trail, 55 miles.


The purpose of this study is to estimate the current and potential bicycle tourism market in Maine, using three proposed Maine trails as case studies, and to develop a marketing plan to promote cycling in the state.  Information from this study could help to justify existing and future state investment in cycling infrastructure. This study was produced in conjunction with the Bicycle Federation of America, a national cycling advocacy organization.


  • Spending differs according to the type of cycling. The average bicycle tourist on a self-guided tour spends $55 per day, on a guided tour spends $115 per day, and on a day trip spends $25 per day.
  • Bicycle tourists account for $36.3 million in direct expenditures, $18.0 million in labor earnings, and 1,200 jobs.
  • The Downeast Trail is expected to attract 43,000 users, mainly overnight users, and generate $910,000 in annual economic impact.
  • The Mountain Division Trail is expected to attract 61,000 users annually and generate $715,000 of direct spending.
  • The Eastern Trail, which would run through many communities with large resident populations and numerous tourists, is expected to attract 91,500 users annually and generate $1,000,000 in local spending.
  • The estimated economic impacts could be significant for the rural towns through which the proposed trails and tour routes travel.


The authors gathered data for the economic impact analysis using existing data sources. Data on the demographics and expenditures of bicycle tourists were based on other studies in similar regions. Estimates of the number of bicycle tourists are from the Longwoods International Travel Survey, which is conducted annually for the Maine Office of Tourism. Data on the number of participants in guided cycling tours were collected by another research firm. These data were input into a regional economic impact model called RIMS-II.


Wilbur Smith Associates. 2001. Bicycle Tourism in Maine: Economic Impacts and Marketing Recommendations. Maine Department of Transportation Office of Passenger Transportation.