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Bicycle Tourism in California 

“More than a century ago, cyclists could follow bike roads from the Bay Area, up to Sacramento, down to Los Angeles, or out to Yosemite, on trails rated "good, fair, poor, or very poor" and "level, rolling, hilly, or mountainous." The California Map for Road Cyclers advises cyclists that if they want to ride down the coast, they'll likely face P. H. conditions (poor and hilly), and if they're headed to the mountains, a F.H. path can quickly turn into a P.M.” The Cyclers Guide Road Book, Author George W. Blum

Bicycle Tourism

Over a century ago Californians could follow roads from the Pacific to the Sierras and find food, drink and accommodations. In 1895 a cyclist could find roads from the Bay Area to Sacramento or to Yosemite Valley. Today,cyclists in the Central Valley, Motherlode, and Sierras can patch together rides to these destinations.

Currently, there are over 1000 cyclists in regional bike clubs who ride in the Central Valley, Motherlode, and Sierras. Local and regional bike clubs include: Foothill Cycling Group, Erma’s Diner Cycling Group, Golden Chain Cyclists, Stockton Bike Club, Horizon Bike Club, M360, the San Joaquin Bike Coalition, Delta Velo Race Team, Central Valley Velo, Stanislaus County Bike Club, Bear Valley Bike Club,  Alta Alpina, and Project HERO San Joaquin. In addition, an estimated 250 individual cyclists or small groups of friends ride and are not a member of a club.

Each year there are ten bike events that bring over 4,000 cyclists to the Central Valley, Motherlode and Sierras: Peddling Paths to Independence, Party Pardee, Mr. Frogs Ride, Ride4Art, Lodi Tour de Vines, Sierra Century, Ebbett's Pass Century, Moms Ride, Golden Hills, Almond Blosom Ride and popular Death Ride. And, finally each year over 1,000 Northern California Nevada Cycling Association Bike racers come to Milton or Cooperopolis to race bikes on Easter Weekend and in August.

It’s clear, the rural roads in the Central Valley, Foothils and Sierras are popular for recreational cycling. What’s unknown is the economic impact of encouraging cycling tourism.

The first week in April the Sacramento Bike and Hikers sponsor the Party Pardee, a one day bike event that occurs in Amador and Calaveras Counties. The ride is popular because of the scenic rolling hills surrounding the Tri Dam Lakes. This event has been held for 26 years and registers over 1,400 cyclists. Prior and after this bike event the 40 miles of roads near Valley Springs Tri Dam are visited by bicycle clubs, groups, and families. There are local businesses that cater to cyclists: Starbucks, Hawg Dogs, Ace Hardware, and Subway. Cyclists stop for a coffee, lunch, or a spare bike part. Local camp grounds near Valley Springs are  Lake Comanche, Pardee and Hogan that cyclists who stay the night before or after their ride.

The California Bicycle Coalition’s Caltrans Sustainable Communities Grant

“Promoting Safe Bicycle Travel Opportunities for Bicycle Tourism,” is a strategic collaboration of transportation agencies from five counties: Tuolumne, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Calaveras, and Alpine. The goal of the project is to improve public safety, increase active transportation, and promote economic development through a comprehensive plan to promote bicycle tourism that emphasizes safety improvements on state and local routes across county lines.

The Cycling Tourism Grant is funded by Cal Trans and the final project plan will identify bike routes for enhancing bicycle tourism, with an eye to improving road conditions for all modes, and for residents’ travel needs as well as those of visitors.

Cal Bike is seeking input from cyclists, business owners, civic leaders, government officals, Bicycle related businesses, and local residents. 

The survey seeks information about supporting cycling tourism and will be used to study the economic value of supporting cycling tourism.

Cal Bike Cycling Tourism Survey

This link allows you to participate in shaping Cycling Tourism in the Central Valley, Foothills and Central Sierras. 

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

Asked to civic leaders, government officials, bike related businesses, economic and tourism directors.

Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is grateful to the cycling community for supporting Pedaling Paths to Independence for 12 consecutive years. The ride has become the agency's most successful fund raising event.

Areas need to invest in bicycle tourism now more than ever. It is easy for people to maintain physical distancing while cycling. They will still rent overnight lodging and support local businesses. It is a win, win.

As an avid road and mountain biker, and civil servant in local Public Works, I'm happy to see this project evolve and come to fruition.

We need to eliminate rumble strips on Highways without shoulders. Rumble strips on Highways with shoulders should have regularly spaced breaks of 3-4 feet of smooth pavement to allow cyclists to move to and from the shoulder to avoid road hazards. Making this area more bicycle friendly would be a boon to local businesses, hotels, restaurants, stores would all benefit from the cycling tourism dollars

Our region has huge potential for bike tourism and could see substantial benefits with straightforward improvements like dedicated bike lanes and increased awareness of bike culture.

Thanks for this opportunity & good luck!

I would very much like to support efforts to create more bicycle recreation in our county. Please let me know how I can be of service.

Modesto is making improvements but realize that if we have few bike amenities, there will be few cyclists. It is a catch 22 but I believe we need to add amenities and then we will see the cyclists. One specific problem is security when leaving bicycles in order to shop and do errands. Bike racks in full view rather than tucked around a corner can help.

Promoting cycling is good for the economy (through tourism and quality of life that can attract more companies), public health (promoting exercise and healthy lifestyles), and the environment (reduced carbon emissions). Its a smart investment for the future! I was asked to present on the role of Tourism in Lodi at the last CalBike Summit. The information was made public.

Bicycle Tourism would bring dollars to the local economy. Improving local roads would create more incentive for bicycle activity in the area!

love to see this happen to benefit our community

We can see the value of creating a safe system of bicycle routes that both protect the cyclist and avoid conflicts and interruption of vehicle traffic. The more scenic the route, the better and the ability to connect our local communities and destination could be a big benefit to some of our businesses.

very interested in this.

Although we may be challenged right now to fund many of the road improvements needed throughout the County, I am hopeful dedicated road revenues will eventually increase and sidewalks, bike paths, paved shoulders will be added where possible. Please don't ignore the potential of the National Forest road networks for bike travel and recreation. We have hundreds of miles of underutilized Forest roads that are ideal for gravel biking and bikepacking, two of the growing sectors of the bike travel industry with strong appeal to young visitors. Improved promotion and maintenance of Forest roads are low cost ways to expand use of existing infrastructure and bring visitors to nature. It is important to expand and improve bike infrastructure, but far more important to remove barriers to the use of underused existing infrastructure.

I think events that get people out enjoying Modesto's many trails would be good, especially since so many bicycles were purchased during COVID. If feels like we are at the tipping point of our local community becoming more bicycle centric.

There are several opportunities for Rail to Trails conversions throughout the region. These are particularly beneficial for tourism as they are more rideable and therefore enjoyable for the average bicyclist.

The county cannot put in funding for bike lanes beyond school access issues. Our limited funds are currently inadequate and we struggle just to maintain what exists. If this coalition wants to put in bike lanes, they will need to secure 100% of the funding to do so. In addition they will need to secure easements as many of the roads only have an easement to the end of the pavement.

Thank you for doing this! Much needed

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