Portland, Elly Blue, talked about Bikenomica while she was here in Tucson.

I wrote a while back about government officials teaming with the UA’s Eller Sports Management class to attempt to quantify the economic impact of cycling in Tucson.

One of the main goals is to help bolster the region’s platinum application as a bike-friendly city from the League of American Bicyclists.

The class is attempting to speak with all the businesses and organizations related to cycling in the Tucson region to determine how much money they make or raise.

I received an email from one of the students asking about Tucson Velo’s economic impact. Here’s what they asked:

Do you have plans of to expand your business in the next two years? Yes or No

In the past two years, have sales/ event participation: Increased, Decreased, Stayed the Same?

What is your estimated gross revenue related to bicycles over the past year?

How many years have you been in business?

How many full time employees? Part time?

What is the effect of Tucson’s bicycle friendly reputation on business?

Why did you choose to locate your business/ non-profit in Tucson or Eastern Pima County?

What makes Tucson and Eastern Pima County great for bicycling?

What can be done to make Tucson and Eastern Pima County better for bicycling?

Thank you for taking the time to do this, your help is greatly appreciated. If there is any additional information you would like to add that you think would pertain to this project, particularly in regards to revenue, please feel free to include that information. The more information I collect the better. Thank you again


15 thoughts on “Students begin assessing economic impact of Tucson bicycling”
  1.  Hope the students take the time to visit a bunch of the businesses to get this info!  Relying solely on email responses may not get a big enough sample 

  2. I’m not sure what the importance of this is.   Because the public spends gobs of money on candy bars, does that mean the government should put candy filled vending machines on street corners?  I don’t see a correlation between public spending alone and government support for a product or activity.  Tax money should only be spent on those items that the public sector can’t provide yet are beneficial to the public.   Cycling fills 3 essential human needs, transportation, recreation and exercise.  Those benefits to the public are enough by themselves for government funding to go towards cycling infrastructure and education.  How much money the public spends on cycling is irrelevent.

  3. I don’t know why they thought I was a business, but I received one of these.
    Seems like some of the questions would invoke speculation. 

  4. “I’m not sure what the importance of this is.”

    Perhaps it’s a learning experience for the sports management students. That may or may not be important for them. It’s difficult to forecast what  they will learn and what they will do.

  5. “Those benefits to the public are enough by themselves for government funding to go towards cycling infrastructure and education.”

    I suspect there is a fair number of people out there who would not agree  – but maybe they could be convinced if shown that biking contributes the great economic engine in the sky. Just a theory.

  6. Hey, Colby.  You may be right.  I don’t know who needs that type of “convincing” tho.  I’m a conservative and I ride with other conservatives, we see the value in cycling.  It’s pretty obvious.  Take care.

  7. Quantifying cycling’s impact on Tucson and Pima County certainly has value.  The information can be useful to businesses looking to expand or change their business model, as well as for companies looking to open.  Tucson has a very well attended massive cycling event which has a very large impact.  Business people and government officials might like to know how that relates to the overall cycling impact, and it could help with creating other large cycling events that bring in significant money.  Similarly, Tucson is obviously well known as a cycling destination, and that recognition comes from more than just El Tour.  It’s strength for the city, and in these lean times when tourist dollars aren’t flowing so freely and local business are feeling pinched, playing to one’s strengths is pretty good strategy. Seeing how the data collected so far correlates with money invested by businesses and government could help improve that transaction, making it more efficient and/or more profitable for everyone involved.

    For the students there is an obvious lesson in looking at money spent, money collected, and the opinions of the stakeholders (in this case, businesses).  It seems pretty obvious that this something  that should be studied in business school.  I don’t know if the government has invested any money in this study or if the Eller College or related departments are paying for this.  There doesn’t seem to be a downside to the study, especially when things of value might be learned.

  8. I agree that there is no down side, as long as they aren’t spending a bunch of tax money on it.  From what I can see, the only benefit from this study that seems to have any traction may be revealing the true revenues from bicycle tourism in town.  That is a good point there.  I’m pretty sure our local politicos are aware that ETDT brings gobs of folks to town since they authorize law enforcement staff to monitor the streets for the event.  You may be right tho.  The city and county may decide to spend more on infrastructure if they see that cycling brings in more tourist $ than they thought.  On the other hand, I don’t see how they could care if all of us cyclists bought a new carbon frame bike for ourselves each and every month.  We all spend money on lots of different things at local stores, how does it shift municipal spending habits if you and I put more of our dough into cycling gear?  You may have a good answer, I’ll look for it.

  9. Does anyone beside me think these questions to be a liitle weak in determining some of this. Bike specific businesses may have some factual answers  but to other less specific businesses, this survey may be more like an opinion poll. I’m thinking if I got one of these surveys, they aren’t being to discriminating to whom they are sending them.

  10. The study isn’t intended to determine how best to get people to buy another bicycle frame.  From the questions, the intent is apparently to get some data as well as opinions of local business regarding how cycling impacts said businesses.  That’s it.  It makes sense for communities to categorize and quantify their strengths.  Cycling is an apparent strength of the Tucson area, so understanding that can help optimize that strength.  It’s especially important to optimize strengths when income for communities is limited as it is now.
    There’s really nothing else to read into it.

  11. My reference to buying carbon fiber frames was meant only to be an example of massive spending on one type of consumer goods by local residents.  My point was, and is that consumer spending by residents, no matter how large, isn’t going to influence how municipal tax money is spent.  I’m not sure it would influence municipal policies either.  For instance, everyone in town buys a $5000 bike and never rides it.  The municipal folks won’t put money into bicycle infrastructure unless there are bikes out on the road.  Consumer spending on bike gear alone isn’t a trigger for municipal spending or policy change.  You said it’s good to have this information so we can optimize our strength?  What steps could be taken to optimize our strengths?   Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “There’s really nothing else to read into it.”  I didn’t know I was reading into anything, I’m just trying to understand the purpose of this study. 

  12. From the original article, which is linked to in this article: “Richard DeBernardis, the president of Perimeter Bicycling Association of America, is part of the task force and is  helping organize the study and secure the $10,000 the study will cost.”

  13. Seems kind of vague, the questions. How about question like, do you encourage your employees to ride to work?  Do you provide a safe secure, indoor or out door bike parking for staff/customers? Do you participate in Cicylovia or Bike to work week? How often do you or your family ride?  Do you commute by bike? Public transportation, walk? Do you feel like your business is in an area that’s easy to bicycle, walk, bus, to? How can that be improved? Moving more product isn’t the answer, making your life where everything is in cycling distance is!

  14. The purpose of the study (one of them, anyway) is to see how much money is tied to/made from bicycling  for a wide variety of Tucson businesses like retail, professional, tourism and advocacy.   Bike shops, Tucson based bike tour companies, law offices advertising to bicyclists, frame builders and painters,  non-profits who use bikes/bike education as their “tool”, bike advocacy orgs, Departments of Transportation, tucsonvelo, Tucson Pedaler, etc., are just a few of the kinds of businesses and industries who will receive this questionaire.

    Yes, we all “know” that cycling is huge in this town, but the total economic impact is not known.

    Wonder what the margin of error in this study is going to be?  The questions seem a little too vague.   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.