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Gauging the impact of cycling

By Chad Ingram

Published May 3 2016

Cyclists visiting Haliburton County spend on average $450 during their stay.

That’s one of the findings of a cycling economic impact survey for the Haliburton Highlands conducted by the local Communities in Action committee the county tourism department and the chamber of commerce.

Kate Hall and Sue Shikaze of the Communities in Action committee presented the study’s findings to county councillors during an April 27 meeting.

There were 162 respondents to the survey which took place between May and October of last year. Thirty-nine respondents were visitors six of them first-timers to the county. The remaining 123 respondents were residents an equal mix of year-round and seasonal.

Fifty-four per cent of visitors stayed at local accommodations during their visit and 51 per cent stayed four days or longer spending an average of $450 during those visits.

“Places like food establishments were important” Shikaze said. Local eateries as well as grocery stores and farmers’ markets are visited frequently by cyclists the study shows.

Residents were asked how much money they estimated they spend on cycling-related purchases – equipment clothing etc. – in a year. The average was $222.

Respondents were also asked what they liked best about cycling in the community.

Road and trail quality as well as a feeling of safety while cycling were the top responses.

Fifty-four per cent of visitors said local cycling opportunities would have some influence on the decision to buy a seasonal residence in the county.

Shikaze said that cyclists are often involved in other quiet actives.

“They like to hike they like to boat” she said.

“This survey was likely completed by people already engaged with cycling among both residents and visitors leading to some selection bias and a sample group that is not necessarily representative of the entire population” the survey report reads.

“However it is clear that cycling does contribute to making the community a desirable place to live and visit that cycling generates economic activity and that there are opportunities for growing cycling as a tourism product and quality of life feature.”

Recommendations in the report included the continued improvement of primary and secondary roads in the county; wide and paved shoulders wherever possible; the development and promotion of self-guided cycling tours; and educating real estate agents on the cycling opportunities available in the community.