Bicycling and Walking in Colorado: Economic Impact and Household Survey Results

Uses studied: ,
Place: Statewide


This study found that bicycle tourism draws summertime tourists to Colorado ski areas who would not have come otherwise, many of whom come from out-of-state and generate valuable economic impact. Statewide, residents are most concerned about the safety of cycling and strongly support spending on improvements such as new paved off-street bike paths and linking paths to create a statewide system.


Of the studies that have conducted statewide estimates of the benefits from bicycling (see 68, 71, 74, 75, 80, 83, 84), this is one of two (see 85) that conducted a random, state-wide survey to obtain household information about bicycling participation and preferences. This strengthens the study because it means that avid cyclists are not the only opinions represented. However, the low response rate may mean that the survey is still biased towards avid cyclists and some responses, such as the proportion in favor of spending on cycling infrastructure, may be higher than for the average population.


This study was statewide in Colorado.

Trail Type

This study did not address a specific trail, but considered the overall impact of cycling including mountain biking, bicycle tours, racing, and charity rides.


The study was commissioned by the Colorado Department of Transportation Bicycle/Pedestrian Program. The Department wanted to establish baseline information about cycling and pedestrian infrastructure needs and use, to inform planning and funding decisions at the municipal, county, and state-level.


  • In 2000, bicycle-related businesses and events generated $1,136 million in annual revenue, $44.1 million in payroll, and 1,968 jobs.
  • Bicycle retailers have $200 million in sales and service revenue, 700 full-time employees, and $16 million payroll annually.
  • Bicycle-related manufacturers have total revenue of $763 million, 513 full-time employees, and $18.1 million in payroll annually.
  • Mountain biking at ski resorts is associated with approximately $167 million in annual revenue, 755 full-time employees, and $10 million payroll annually.
  • Bicycle tours generate approximately $640,000 in annual revenue.
  • Bicycle racing generates approximately $2 million in annual revenue.
  • Charity rides generate approximately $3.4 million in annual revenue.
  • Half of the 699,000 summer visitors at ski resorts participate in bicycling, and 70 percent of these are from out of state. Forty percent of the surveyed bicycling visitors stated they would not have visited if bicycling had not been available.
  • Ten percent of Colorado households reported taking a bicycle vacation in the previous year.
  • Sixty-nine percent of households own at least one bicycle.
  • Of the households that responded to the survey, 79 percent stated they would support state spending on improvements to encourage bicycling. Two-thirds said they would most like to see money spent on new off-street paved bike paths.
  • To fund improvements for bicycling, 35 percent of respondents supported charging a bicycle registration fee and 21 percent supported charging a trail user fee.
  • Two percent report a bicycle as their primary means of transportation to work and 5 percent report a bicycle as their secondary means of transportation.
  • Two-thirds of bicyclists most prefer riding on an off-street bike path.
  • Cyclists were most concerned with safety-related aspects of cycling in the state including the conditions and width of road shoulders, motorist courtesy, crossings at road intersections, and debris on the roads.


The authors mailed surveys to a random sample of 35,912 Colorado households and received 5,771 completed surveys (16% response rate). The survey contained 117 questions related to household demographics, transportation habits, and opinions about bicycling safety and infrastructure. The length of the survey may have contributed to the relatively low response rate.

The authors obtained data on revenue and employment in bicycle-related manufacturing and retail using data collected from surveys of manufacturers and retailers.

The authors estimate tourism-related economic impact using revenue from mountain biking reported by ski resorts and revenue from surveys of bicycle tour operators, race promoters, and charity rides.


Argys, L., H. Mocan, J. Barela, T. Boonsaeng, M. Darling, J. Garner, P. Niemann, and T. Potter. 2000. Bicycling and Walking in Colorado: Economic Impact and Household Survey Results. Center for Research on Economic and Social Policy of the University of Colorado at Denver.