BC Biz: Workshop helps plan for bicycle tourism

John Kilbride of Scotland is pictured during a stop at the Red Rose Diner in Towanda when it was open for business back in 2016. Kilbride was wrapping up a cross country cycling trip to raise money and awareness for the non-profit SOIL, which had helped improve sanitary conditions in Haiti for the past decade.

With the naming of Route 6 as a U.S. Bike Route last year, planning has been underway to take advantage of the tourists coming through the corridor on two wheels.

This included a series of workshops held last month – one of which was conducted at the Tuscarora Wayne Community Room in Wyalusing and was sponsored, in part, by the Bradford County Tourism and Promotion Agency.

Presenter Russ Roca from Path Less Pedaled, who has helped many other organizations in multiple states develop bike tourism plans, provided local businesses and officials an outline of what bicycle tourism is, how it can impact businesses, how businesses can prepare for these tourists, and how others have found success.

Providing an update to the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency Board of Directors last month, tourism business partner Amy Brennan of Custom Geekery said a big characteristic of bicycle tourism as far as the local business community is how slowly it brings tourists through a given area.

“If you were looking at a 200 mile trip in a car that included a family stopping for lunch once, it will probably not be an overnight visit. But if you look at the same 200 mile trip on bike, that involves three to four overnight stays and 12 meals, so that makes a big difference in terms of economic impact,” she explained.

According to The Path Less Pedaled website, there are many things businesses can do to accommodate these tourists, from making sure there are public restrooms available and places to fill up their water bottles to providing space where they can park or store their bicycles, and making information easily accessible about the surrounding area, including online, to help with trip planning.

U.S. Bike Route 36, which follows Route 6, was named in May 2018 by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation as a way of connecting cyclists from Ohio to New York, according to the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance. With the naming, the route was included on the Ride with GPS website, which is used by cycling tourists.

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I am the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily and Sunday Review.