Economic Impact of Bicycling and Walking in Vermont

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Place: Statewide

Overview

This study found that cycling and pedestrian activities in Vermont generate substantial state-wide economic impact through the construction and maintenance of trails, businesses serving cyclists and pedestrians, and events.  Although not quantified in this study, trails also provide benefits to residents through avoided transportation costs for consumers (e.g., gasoline and vehicle maintenance), avoided transportation costs for the public (e.g., reduced maintenance costs due to fewer vehicle trips), and increases in real estate values near trails.

Relevance

This statewide analysis illustrates the range of benefits attributable to cycling and walking in the state, and clearly distinguishes between those benefits that are easily quantified and those that are not. The largest source of estimated economic impact comes from spending at cycling and pedestrian businesses, but because these data are self-reported they may overstate impacts.

Location

This study is statewide in Vermont.

Trail Type

This study does not address a specific trail, but includes all types of improvements to increase cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, including shoulder widening, shoulder paving, installing sidewalks, and developing trails.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to develop a comprehensive estimate of the economic benefits associated with bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the state. This study was commissioned by the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Findings

  • Cycling- and pedestrian-related activities were associated with $53.9 million in direct economic impact, $27.8 million in earnings, and 1,095 jobs.
  • The construction and maintenance of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure is associated with $9.8 million in direct economic impact, $6.5 million in earnings, and 152 jobs. Roughly 10 percent of this comes from cycling and pedestrian programs promoting cycling and pedestrian activities (e.g., Safe Routes to Schools and bicycle commuter guides); the remainder is associated with construction and maintenance of infrastructure. These represent roughly 18 percent of total economic impacts.
  • Cycling and pedestrian events are associated with $6.2 million in direct economic impact, $3.3 million in earnings, and 123 jobs. These represent roughly 12 percent of total economic impacts.
  • Cycling and pedestrian businesses are associated with $37.8 million in direct economic impact, $18.0 million in earnings, and 820 jobs. These represent roughly 70 percent of total economic impacts.
  • Almost half of business-related spending is by non-residents.
  • Almost half of the 44,000 people associated with events (participants and spectators) are from out of state.

Methods

The authors estimated total economic impact by collecting data on spending associated with building and maintaining cycling and pedestrian facilities, spending at cycling- and pedestrian-related businesses, and visitor spending on cycling and walking events. These methods are similar to those used in a state-wide study in New Jersey (see 83).

Data on amount spent on cycling and pedestrian facilities and programs were gathered from the Vermont Agency of Transportation, trail organizations, the Department of Public Works, Vermont municipalities, and the U.S. Census.

Data from bicycle and pedestrian businesses were obtained via a survey of businesses in manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, retail trade, and other services such as repair shops and mountain biking and hiking trail centers. The authors received 62 completed surveys from the 155 that were mailed (40% response rate).

Data on participation in and expenditures associated with cycling and walking events were obtained from event promoters.

These data were used as inputs into a regional economic impact model called REMI.

Additionally, the authors estimated avoided transportation costs for consumers, avoided transportation costs for the public, and increases in real estate value, although these were not used as inputs into the economic impact model. For these mostly qualitative analyses, they relied on findings from existing studies.

Citation

Resource Systems Group, Inc.., Economic and Policy Resources, Inc., and Local Motion. 2012. Economic Impact of Bicycling and Walking in Vermont. Prepared for the Vermont Agency of Transportation.