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Interregional Bicycle Tourism Plan Update From: Rob Williams, CalBike Outreach Manager October 2020


Bike Tourism

safety • health • economy • joy 

This is an update from the California Bicycle Coalition on our work to promote bike tourism for safety and economic development in this region.


More people riding 


More people are riding bicycles in the Central Valley, Motherlode, and Central Sierras, touring county and city roadways, trails, and along bike lanes. I have observed the change personally, as well as through Strava Bike Riding data. Strava bike ride data in Tuolumne County showed a significant increase in cycling tourism. In 2019, just 8,000 bike rides occurred in twelve months; in the first seven months of 2020, 9,643 bike rides occurred. Eighty-three percent of the bike rides were tourists riding  bikes in Tuolumne County


The Stanislaus County Bike Club, Stockton Bike and Stockton Bike Clubs, Central and Delta Valley Velo Bike Clubs, Golden Chain Cyclists, Foothill Cyclists and Alta Alpina Cyclists are all hosting weekly group bike rides. They ride roads in Oakdale, up Patterson Pass, Lodi, Manteca, Valley Springs, Murphy’s and Sonora.


As you are aware, bike shops cannot keep up with bike sales and service. E-bikes, are making bike riding more accessible and enjoyable for a wide range of bike riding enthusiasts. E-bike maker Van Moof reported that in the month of April bike orders increased 40%. On a personal note I purchased a Van Moof Electric bicycle on September 1, 2021 and it is arriving this week.


Improvements in every county


Another significant sign is the implementation of Active Transportation road improvements in our region. All five counties in our bike study are installing bike friendly infrastructure. I have participated in over five Active Transportation meetings to discuss bike plans in our region.


In my own county of Calaveras, the rural roads above Highway 49, damaged by the Butte Fire, were recently repaired with money from a settlement  with PG&E. These road repairs help make small foothill communities into destination-based cycling tourism locations. Avid cyclists who once might travel to the French Alps or Pyrenees to climb mountains can now drive 75 minutes from the Central Valley to ride perfectly paved roads on quiet rural roads. 


The City of Angels Camp recently said  in the Calaveras Enterprise that, “In the years to come, the city seeks to continue with its plan for active transportation improvements and the establishment of Angels Camp as a trailhead for outdoor pursuits throughout the region!”



Bike events critical to our economy 


There are thirteen bike events in the five counties of our region. New and experienced cyclists come to these events for the social aspect and the convenience of having all logistics handled by the event producer. All were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The economic impact of losing all those people and the associated influx of cash is significant. 


During the summer CalBike and Cycle California! Magazine hosted video conference calls to discuss rescheduling bike events in 2021. As a result, bike event directors in Calaveras County are submitting a letter asking the Board of Supervisors to establish an ad hoc advisory to draft a permit process for holding future bike events post Covid-19 pandemic.


Insights from our Website


This month the BikeValleyToSierra website added stories, videos, and podcasts to keep you informed. There are currently 111 members on this website. The most viewed posts are Ride On, a comprehensive bike riding guide to the Motherlode published in the Calaveras Enterprise, Lodestar Magazine; Cycling Tourism 101, about Self-Supported Bicycle Travel; and Tuolumne Talks Business Podcast featuring CalBike Executive Director, Dave Snyder. 


On the website, thirty-five people completed a Bike Survey for Business and Civic leaders. The majority sentiment expressed bike tourism as an economic engine. 


An open ended question asked; Is there anything else you’d like to say:


“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.”


“Making this area more bike friendly would be a boon to local businesses, hotels, restaurants, stores would all benefit from the cycling tourism dollars.”


Please continue to support our region in becoming a popular bike riding destination for vacationing families, local bike enthusiasts, and help us to get all Californians to ride bikes for health and enjoyment. 


Summary


We are so fortunate to work together to study bike-riding tourism in our five counties. Our identification of popular recreational bike routes and highlighting biking’s economic value will establish our region as a cycling vacation destination. 


This update is part of a five-county regional collaboration funded by a Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant called “Promoting Safe Bicycle Travel Opportunities for Bicycle Tourism and Economic Development.”  The Tuolumne County Transportation Council is the lead agency working in collaboration with the California Bicycle Coalition Education Fund, Fehr & Peers Consulting, the San Joaquin Council of Governments, the Stanislaus Council of Governments, the Calaveras Council of Governments, and Alpine County. It is funded by Caltrans with SB-1 funds.


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A project of the Tuolumne County Transportation Council in collaboration with the California Bicycle Coalition Education Fund, the San Joaquin Council of Governments, the Stanislaus Council of Governments, the Calaveras Council of Governments, and Alpine County. Funded by Caltrans with SB-1 funds.