More and more people in Utah are turning to “active transportation”—namely bicycling and walking for both getting around and recreation.
A recent study, commissioned and organized by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Bike Utah and other partners, quantified some of the economic and health benefits associated with active transportation. Find the study here.
Bicycle related business and tourism have an economic impact of $425 million and are responsible for more than 3,500 jobs across the state. The study identified two case studies showing the economic impact of specific multiuse path and bicycle trails. The Murdock Canal Trail in Utah County costs $113,000 each year to maintain, however it generates over $3,600,000 million annually in economic impact. This is in addition to a one-time economic impact of $26 million and 234 jobs to build the trail. Bicyclists who visit Dead Horse Point trails in Moab generate $19 million annually in economic impact (more than $11 million from overnight trips).
There are also significant health benefits that can be realized from engaging in active transportation. Nearly 45 percent of Utahans get less than the 150 minutes of recommended physical activity each week. These people could save $3.07 in annual healthcare costs for every mile they walk or $0.75 for every mile they bike. For example, if a person walked 2 miles per day, every day of the year, they would average $2,235 in annual savings on their healthcare costs. A similar person riding a bicycle 10 miles per day would save $2,730 each year.
“This study validates what we at UTA already knew, that biking and walking is an important part of local economies and a healthy choice for our passengers,” said UTA CEO Jerry Benson.
A series of calculators have been created out of this study that can be used by communities to assess the economic and health impacts of active transportation, such as organized bike rides. The calculators are specific to each of the counties in Utah and are available for any community members to use. The calculators are available here.
"We are very excited about both the outcomes of this study and the associated tools that were created to quantify benefits of active transportation,” said Bike Utah Executive Director Phil Sarnoff.