Paul Scott comment: "Yes, bike trails have a big economic impact"
Posted: Wed, Aug 1, 2018 4:14 PM
(The following is a comment by decorahnews.com's Paul Scott):
"I attended the recent public meeting about getting an ordinance that would allow ATVs and UTVs to drive on gravel roads in Winneshiek County. There was an impressive turnout for the meeting. The meeting was also well-conducted, with several speakers making comments about the proposed ordinance.
Everything was going well--until just before the end of the meeting, when one speaker cried out that local governments should spend money on behalf of ATV and UTV owners "because we're tired of all the money that's spent on bike riders--and they don't do anything for our economy."
I'm not sure why bike riders had to be mentioned at a meeting about ATVs and UTVs, especially when the meeting had been going so well and progress was being made. But I am sure that bike riders have a big impact on our economy. Upper Explorerland Regional Planning is in the middle of a study of the impact in the five northeasternmost counties in Iowa--Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Clayton and Fayette. But we already have a University of Iowa study from two years ago (http://www.decorahnews.com/archived-stories/2016/05/13608.html
) which says the economic impact of just the Trout Run Trail by itself is anywhere from $1.6 million to $2.4 million a year.
So if it's a question of whether to spend tax money on bike trails or ATV/UTV trails, the answer should be "yes." Whether tourists are coming here to ride a bike or a UTV doesn't matter--we should do whatever we can to encourage them to visit."