DENVER – November 8, 2016 – Bicycling and walking activity not only saves Colorado more than $3 billion in health costs, but also contributes $1.6 billion to the local economy through household spending, manufacturing, exports and tourism, according to a new study released by BBC Research & Consulting.
The study, commissioned by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado Pedals Project, found walking and bicycling in Colorado produces combined economic and health benefits of about $4.8 billion annually.
“This shows that funding biking and walking infrastructure is a good investment for our state – not only for the health of Coloradans, but also for the health of our economy,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper.
According to the study, bicycling has an estimated $1.1 billion impact on the Colorado economy, while walking generates an estimated $497 million.
“Bicycling has a significant impact on the State’s economy through household spending, exports and out-of-town tourism,” said executive director of Bicycle Colorado, Dan Grunig. “And it’s only expected to increase.”
On average, Coloradans spent $217 per household on bicycle-related items and events and $248 per household on walking and hiking equipment last year, according to the study.
In addition to the $931 million in revenue from household spending, the Colorado bicycle industry generated an estimated $185 million in exports and $448 million in tourism, for a total economic impact of $1.6 billion.
Bicycling and walking generate significant health benefits for the State as well. Physical activity like walking and bicycling reduces the risk for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases and leads to longer, healthier lives for active Coloradans.
Colorado’s current levels of bicycling and walking help to prevent 335 deaths per year resulting in approximately $3.2 billion in annual health benefits across the State, according to the study.
The study found 43 percent of Colorado residents 18 or older rode a bike at least once in the past year and 33 percent walked 101 days or more, making Colorado one of the most active states in the nation. Increasing the number of Coloradans who walk or bike by 10 percent to 30 percent could add $500 to $968 million in health benefits.
“Making sure Coloradans have safe, easy access to walking and biking will improve their health, save health care costs and help us make Colorado one of the healthiest states in the nation,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the state health department.
The study used data from a state-wide survey of 2,255 Colorado residents who shared their bicycling and walking behaviors, household spending and activity, and opinions about bicycling and walking infrastructure.
The goals of the study were to understand statewide bicycling and walking behaviors and opinion of bicycling and walking infrastructure and accessibility, to estimate the economic benefit of bicycling and walking, and to quantify the health benefits of bicycling and walking.