Rural bicycle tourism along the Trans America Trail

Authors: Crystal Taylor*, Florida State University, Jacob Doty, Florida State University, Jessica Hope Wagstaff, Florida State University
Topics: Rural Geography, Tourism Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: rural, bicycle, tourism, trail, economy
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The impact of bicycle tourism on small rural economies is an often overlooked issue. While a growing body of literature focuses on bicyclists as competitive consumers in urban settings for day trips in cities and the suburbs, small towns across America have quietly welcomed these recreational trail cyclists to share their stories and dollars. Our research explores the impact of bicycle tourism on the rural town of Golden City, Missouri located along the Trans America Trail. From reviewing the hand written bicycle logs from 1985 to 2016, we mapped 1,355 cyclists using Geographic Information Systems from all over the world who have made the journey writing about their experiences as they travel through rural communities along the trail. In order to obtain data from the handwritten logs, we used a python script to help export annotations from adobe acrobat reader. We found that approximately 22% of the bicyclists were international tourists. Many of the bicyclists traveled in teams, stayed for extended periods of time in the small town, and ordered more than one serving of the favorite local cuisine to fuel their trips. Our findings suggest that bicyclists may be a preferred tourist for small towns given their mode of travel and rationale for making the journey. Bicyclists are likely to spend more time getting to know the locals and by extension spend more money in rural communities than someone making a stop in their automobile.

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