Economic Impact

Bicycling Boosts Wisconsin’s Economy by $1.5 billion Annually
Our investment in a more bicycle-friendly Wisconsin has paid off. Since 1967 when Wisconsin built the Elroy-Sparta Trail, the nation’s first rail trail, we have spent a bit more than $240 million dollars on bicycle projects. On that relatively small total investment, Wisconsin now reaps an annual return of more than $1.5 billion. Through manufacturing, retail, recreation and tourism, bicycling provides more than 13,200 jobs. It brings in $535 million in tourism from out-of-state visitors alone.

  • $535 million in tourism dollars from out-of-state visitors
  • Reduced health care costs
  • A better quality of life

Here’s a handy one-pager you can show public officials
Read the January 2010 report here
Read the Bike Fed’s 2006 report here

Tourism at the Local Level

Sparta is just one of many Wisconsin places where bicycle recreation generates more than $924 million in economic activity. Sparta welcomes 15,500 visiting bicyclists each year thanks to the Elroy Sparta bike trail. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports that 100,000 people use the trail annually.

The Sparta Chamber of Commerce states:
“As [Sparta] residents drive by our full parking lots, see vehicles from almost every state in the Union, or see bicyclists downtown eating and shopping, they realize the trail’s importance.”


World-renowned bicycle brands, such as Trek Bicycle Corporation, Saris Cycling Group, Planet Bike, Pacific Cycles and Waterford Precision Cycles, reside in Wisconsin. Hundreds of locally owned bike shops and bicycle-friendly businesses support the vitality of local economies. Wisconsin bicycle industry adds nearly $600 million annually to our state’s economy.

Health Care

If just the residents of Madison and Milwaukee got enough moderate exercise by replacing some short car trips with bike trips, we could cut health care costs by $319 million.

Trails and Events

To read specifically about the economic impacts of trails on local communities, you can download or order a copy of Trails and Their Gateway Communities from the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.
Economists at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater have found positive economic impacts from the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival in Menomonie. Read the full study or the summary.