Biking continues to grow in popularity in Minnesota, and a recent study shows how bicycling has impacted the state's economy.
According to the study by the University of Minnesota, the bicycling industry contributed about $780 million worth of economic activity in 2014. It also supported 5,519 jobs that paid an estimated $209 million in wages, salaries and benefits to Minnesota workers.
The study, which was funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, was the first of its kind nationwide.
“This will help us understand how biking contributes to the health and vitality of communities,” Sara Dunlap, a MnDOT planner, told the Star Tribune.
More about the study
Researchers looked at the state's bike manufacturers and wholesalers, retail stores, and nonprofit and advocacy groups to understand the economic impact and health effects of bicycling in Minnesota.
Bike manufacturers and wholesalers contributed the most economic value, generating over $600 million in 2014. The study found 288 bicycle-related businesses throughout the state, including two major global manufacturers – Quality Bicycle Products in Bloomington and Park Tool in St. Paul.
Events like organized rides, races, and tours also brought in significant amounts of tourism and recreational spending, producing over $14 million in 2014. Visiting bikers reported spending an average of $121 dollars per day at these type of events.
Researchers also studied how often we ride our bikes, estimating that Minnesotans take between 87 and 96 million bicycle trips each year. And more than 13 percent of Twin Cities residents commute by bike, at least once in a while.
The study also analyzed the health effects of bicycling. Bicycle commuting in the Twin Cities metro prevents 12 to 61 deaths per year, the study says, and riding a bike to work at least three times per week is also linked to lower odds of metabolic syndrome, obesity, and hypertension – all of which lowers medical costs.
The findings show that people all over the state enjoy bicycling – with creates a larger demand for more infrastructure, facilities and networks to support the industry, the study concludes.