Chris King, Nutcase Helmets, Vanilla Cycles and Bike Friday are just a few of the cycling companies based in and around Portland, Oregon, and the January 2009 issue of Oregon Business covers the explosion of the industry there and the cycling culture that surrounds it., a local cycling blog, was quoted as saying they’ve had to hire additional reporters to help cover all the cycling news in the area.  Vanilla Cycles apparently has a five year waiting list (maybe that’s why he hasn’t responded to our interview request from November…).

The article also discusses the spill over benefit of such a mad cycling culture.  More jobs are created in industries like alternative power, organic farming and craft brewing.  Some of these new companies or industries may not stand the test of time, but they help to alleviate the rash of job losses in automotive-related industries (car and RV dealers, etc.).  Portland also enjoys a tourism boost by hosting the Bicycle Film Festival, Oregon Manifest and countless cyclocross and other events.  In fact, Bend, OR, was just awarded the ‘cross nationals for 2009 and 2010. 

It doesn’t come right out and say it, but I walked away with several reasons why a strong cycling culture improves the local economy.  There’s a good lesson to be learned for those working to improve their own local cycling culture through transportation planning and local policy.  Read “more” for that and the link to the full story… 

The article, which you can read in its entirety here, mentions that many newcomers to the Portland area eschew cars, spending the money they’d otherwise give to banks (car loans), oil companies (gas) and local governments (licenses, fees, property taxes) goes almost directly to the local economy.  They buy coffee, eat out more, enjoy local entertainment, etc.

As cities, counties and even states struggle with lower revenue levels as property values fall and fewer people are moving or buying big items that generate tax revenue, now could be a great time to encourage them to reconsider local transportation plans.

It doesn’t take much to show them how more people commuting by bike can free up a lot of money to be used locally.  Personally, my family’s car payments and insurance are about $10,000 annually.  That doesn’t even count property tax, gas and maintenance.  But, for argument’s sake, let’s say families aren’t willing to give up their cars…maybe they have long commutes or haul a lot of stuff.  There’s still reason to push for better cycling and walking infrastructure, especially in cities with large student populations.  If college kids don’t have to rely on a vehicle, they would likely have more discretionary income for eating, drinking, buying video games, going to movies, etc.

So there you have it.  Tourism, job creation, more local spending.  Tell that to your city and county council, join your local advocacy group(s) and let it be known that a bicycle culture equals means a stronger local economy.


  1. […] Click on the image to enlarge it.  Jackson County, AL, is centered around the “A” pinpoint.   The blue circles are the major metros that are easily within a day’s drive.  The location is on the western side of the Blue Ridge mountains, in the foothills along the Tennessee river.  Having the river there provides additional summertime recreational opportunities.  I’m glad to see there are some forward looking people that are embracing mountain biking (and cycling in general) as a way to boost their local economy. […]

  2. Thanks for spreading the word about Portland’s booming bike economy.

    By the way, the bike news source around here is — we’re covering a lot of these businesses and working on figuring out just why they’re doing so well.

What do you think?