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Guest Post: 3 Days Until RAGBRAI XLII

July 16, 2014

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, will celebrate its 42nd ride across Iowa as cyclists continue to come from every state and many foreign countries to participate in the oldest, longest and largest recreational bike tour in the world. 

It is truly one of the state’s largest tourism events, as 65 percent of the participants come from outside of the state of Iowa. RAGBRAI creates an economic boom for the towns and businesses throughout the state and region.  

Bicycle shops, sporting goods stores, transportation companies, beer distributors, restaurants and hoteliers are just a few of the businesses that can be positively impacted by the event. RAGBRAI also becomes a great fundraiser for local charitable organizations like churches, civic organizations and youth groups in the individual communities. A recent study by the University of Northern Iowa Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program (STEP) estimated over $24,000,000 of direct spending occurred in Iowa through RAGBRAI. That’s over $3,000,000 a day! This is one reason that towns in Iowa (as well as attempts by several communities in our neighboring states) have clamored to host this massive event that changes routes each and every year. 

For many communities, RAGBRAI is usually the single largest event that they will host in their town's history - bringing in nearly 25,000 visitors each day. I’m proud to say that we have visited all 99 Iowa counties and have rolled through the smallest to the largest of Iowa’s great cities.

However, the economic impact of cycling in Iowa does not begin or end with RAGBRAI. With a grant from PeopleForBikes, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition also collaborated with UNI's STEP resource to publish the Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling in Iowa  study.

The research found that spending by recreational cyclists' generates  $364.8 million in direct and indirect impacts to the State of Iowa annually. This is equivalent to $1 million per day spent for cycling. “The return on investment was much larger than expected.  

We know that communities recognize the impact that an event like RAGBRAI has on the local economy. But what about the rest of the year when cyclists aren’t concentrated on one route?” said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. RAGBRAI rolls from Rock Valley to Guttenberg  July 20-26, 2014. - T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI Director



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