Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Business Benefits of New, Improved or Extended Bicycle Trails

The value of new bicycle trails is often underestimated in terms of overall benefits, but this is particularly true for business generation. The lack of admission fees to directly measure the willingness to pay for new or improved trails means that it is not easy to measure business benefits of such trails. This is not a new issue and parallel difficulties in valuing public parks and other community venues. Standard techniques have been developed for measuring the willingness to pay for the benefits of public trails and greenspace (McConnell and Walls 2006; Krizek 2006). Although there are established ways to measure general benefits such as increase in home value, the measurement of benefits for local businesses has been less common. This post concentrates on ways to measure the business benefits of trails or trail improvements.

The business benefits can come in several different forms (Flusche 2012). One form is tourism. Trails can become popular if they are set in a special setting or are of high quality. For instance the Great Allegheny Passage which runs from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland has become a seasonal attraction (Figure 1). Ridership on that 150-mile long trail has grown substantially in recent years to more than 900,000 trail visits. The last phase of the Great Allegheny Passage was completed near Pittsburgh in 2013, finalizing the connection to Washington, DC along the C & O Canal. This has created a non-motorized corridor of 335 miles. As a result trail use increased from 816,000 to 926,000 (23 percent) between 2013 and 2015 (Herr 2016). A 2015 survey indicates that two-thirds of trail users involved overnight stays (Trail Town Program 2015).

Hotel Inn and Sign Pointing to Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail
Figure 1. Trail Inn Next to Great Allegheny Passage, Frostburg, Maryland
Photo by Doug Barnes
In addition to overnight or multiday stays along trails, local businesses spring up to serve tourists drawn to the area. This means an increase in grocery and restaurant sales, bicycle related repair shops and specialty stores that are oriented towards tourists. There also can be a difference in the business development based on the location of trails. For those in urban areas the main benefit may be the local stores around trail easy access points. In rural areas, many towns have specialized businesses to accommodate trail users. Such business development is intensified in towns along the trails because of the few services in rural areas.

The question addressed in this posting is how to measure the business development benefits of trails. Most people are familiar with the service centers that pop up around national highway exits. The same types of benefits accrue to major well done trails that draw a high number of riders and pedestrians. In urban areas this demand is more spread out through the community because of the many access points to trails. Bikes can be parked anywhere so riders can have access to businesses all along trails. In rural areas the growth of services generally are in the towns along the trail.

Methods for Evaluating Benefits of Expanded Business
A well designed trail can be very popular, especially if it connects with other bicycle infrastructure or interesting tourist attractions. People using the trails will either come from local areas for day trips or from more distant locations for stays of one or more nights. At the minimum, day trippers might spend money in restaurants or grocery stores for lunch or dinner. Those coming from a distance will stay in hotels or other accommodations. In addition, groups of trail users might dine in local restaurants and make day purchases from local stores.

The basic method for approximating the benefits of a new trail or trail improvement is to estimate a business as usual scenario and what would happen in local businesses if the trail is not built or improved. After this, it is necessary to estimate what would happen if the trail or trail improvement is built. The difference between these two scenarios is the benefit of the new or improved trail for business. This is easier for a new trail, because the before case would be no trail use. It is more difficult for trail improvements.

Two types of information are necessary to estimate the business benefits of new or improve trails. They include (1) the incremental number of users drawn to the trail and (2) the economic activity of these additional users. The most accurate way to do this is with before and after surveys of actual business development. However, in assessing the possible benefits of a future project it is sometimes necessary to project possible purchases made by incremental trail users that might occur due to a new or improved trail.

Generally it is quite difficult to survey all the businesses that would benefit from a trail. This would require a quantification of sales and profits. This is information most businesses would not want to divulge. An easier method is to use a trail survey of users conducted during different times of the year. This is necessary due to seasonality of trail use. Questions might include the usual residence of riders and whether they stayed overnight to use the trail or trail improvement. Again such estimates can be made based on before and after surveys to measure actual increases in local business development, or they can be projected based on past experiences with similar trails.

Use of Counters for Estimating Trips

To make projections of trail benefits it is necessary to calculate the number of trail users. Total trail business benefits will be determined by the number of people drawn to use a trail. Thus, the first step for estimating business benefits is to properly count trail uses. This must be done during different time periods because of the varied time of day and seasonal patterns of use for many trails. It is important to count the number of trips by people using a trail every month or every quarter over a period of a full year. Having counts of nearby bicycle and pedestrian traffic also can benefit local businesses to estimate demand for their services.

Automated devices are available for counting trail traffic. Common devices include loops in the pavement measuring pressure, laser devices, magnetic counters and thermal apparatus. Recently some automatic trail counters have been developed that provide real time measures of trail use (figure 2) and download them to a public internet site. By counting the number of trail counts it is possible to measure the changes that result from a new trail, a trail extension or an improvement in the trail. In the case of a new trail, since the previous level of ridership was 0, the total new count can be used in estimating the benefit for a trail. Although counters measure trail traffic at a certain point, what is really needed for estimating business benefits is the number of discrete trips due along the entirety of a trail.

Bicycle Counter along Bike Trail
Figure 2. Totem Bicycle and Pedestrian Counter in Madison Wisconsin
Photo by The Badger Herald in article by Inveiss (2016)
The total trail user count has some problems in representing the unique number of trail trip uses. Counters are fine for estimating the traffic at one point on a trail, but they are not very good for evaluating the number of bicycle or pedestrian trips. The traffic by a trail point contains a certain degree of double counting for bicyclists or pedestrians who ride or walk one direction and then return to the same location. This means they pass the counter twice on the same trip. If counters are too close together then they will count the same rider multiple times. If they are too far apart, they will miss bicyclists or pedestrians who enter and exit the trail between counters. The figures needed for economic analysis of business development is not traffic at a certain location, but rather the important figures are the number of discrete trips. Also counting the same person on multiple days is not a problem for economic analysis. If a short- or extended-stay tourist rides on consecutive days, they still will eat meals and stay overnight and hotels, thus contributing to the local economy.

The problems of counters can be mitigated by using some statistical techniques to make adjustments to the raw data. By making adjustments it is possible to accurately represent the number of individual rides or walks (for details, see Martin 2017; Martin et. al 2017). In order to do this it is necessary to conduct a survey of bicyclists or pedestrians at the counter locations. The information necessary is the length of the ride or walk and whether the riders or pedestrians are going one or both ways on the trail. With this information it is possible to calculate the unique number of bicycle or pedestrian trips on the trail. Getting as close to these figures as possible is necessary for the economic estimates of the business benefits of new or improved bicycle trails.

The permanent residents who live in the immediate vicinity of a trail also will benefit from the trail, but they generally do not result in additional benefits to local businesses. The benefits for local populations can be measured as an increase in the value of homes, improved health, less expensive commuting and other measures. These more general benefits are described in a previous post entitled A Primer on the Value of Bicycle Trails and Greenways (Barnes 2017a).

Questions for Quantifying Business Benefits

There are many methods to randomly select and interview trail users. One of the easiest method is to select every 10th or some other number of bicyclists or pedestrians during a predetermined time of period. The nature of rider or walker may change during the day. Commuters may ride in the morning and those out for exercise may be more prevalent during other times. With beforehand knowledge of the number of trail users during certain time periods, then certain representative periods can be sampled and adjusted to provide an overall profile of trail users.

The focus of this inquiry is on the questions necessary to extract information that makes it possible to measure business benefits of trails. It is wise to keep these surveys short and to collect mainly key information relevant for benefit estimates (PCMPO 2014). An important issue is to classify the type of residence or accommodation of trail users. The first set of questions is for understanding the means of reaching a trail and distance from someone’s usual residence (figure 3). Once this is accomplished, it is possible to determine those bicyclists or pedestrians who will stay in hotels, rental units or with friends. As an alternative for viewing, this file contains a Word document with all the questions for surveying business benefits of new or improved bicycle trails.  

Table with questions
Figure 3. Questions on Usual Residence for Bicyclists and Pedestrians
A second set of questions can assess the amount of money spent on local stays near the trail, including whether the riders or walkers are local or from outside the region. The questions on how many days, weeks or months staying near the trail can be used to understand whether the trail users has a residence near the trail user or they are short- or longer-term tourists. The US Census (2018) defines residence as “the place where the person lives and sleeps most of the time. This place is not necessarily the same as the person's voting residence or legal residence.”

In addition questions are necessary to determine the money spent while staying in nearby accommodations. This will be applied only to those whose usual residence in not near the trail. Different expenses can be applied as a trail benefit based on whether this is a rental home, a condominium or a hotel stay. The local market price for the rental homes, condominiums and hotel stays has to be researched in order estimate a value to the local economy. Using this information is often better than asking the trail user how much they paid for a hotel or condominium stay because people consider this sensitive information. The might result might be refusals to answer the question resulting in inaccurate information.

Table with questions on bicycle trails
Figure 4. Type of Residence or Accommodations new Trail
The third set of questions is for estimating the amount of money spent on food or other items as a consequence of staying near or using the trail. Again, this type of information will be applied only to those trail users who can be considered short- or extended-stay tourists. The last question is for any non-food item purchased due to staying near the trail. It is not limited to trail related expenses.

Table with questions on spending by tourists on local businesses
Figure 5. Visitor Spending on Local Businesses
The tourist benefits for business in locations near the trail cannot be attributed to a larger area such as a region or state. The assumption is that the trail has drawn short-term or extended-stay tourists to an area due to the attractiveness of a new or recently improved trail. This means that the tourists will have many destinations from which to choose or decide. The key is that the new or trail improvement influences the decision to visit the area and as a result they patronized local businesses.

For any particular trail study the above questions will have to be modified to fit local conditions. They have been developed to provide a starting point for measuring the additional demand of tourism for local businesses due to a new trail or trail expansion. The benefits are actually a form of willingness to pay for a visit to the nearby trail. They just take the form of paying for hotel stays, food services and local business wares. It is mainly short- and long-term tourists who would generate such business benefits. Permanent or usual residents near the trail would not generate incremental business tourist expenses since they already live in the area of the trail.


Communities often undervalue the socioeconomic impact of offering attractive bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The development of new trails or the improvement or extension of existing ones can have many benefits. However, the benefits for local businesses are often not quantified because they are difficult to measure. New or improved trails generally do not charge admission fees, so their value must be accessed through other means. Well done trails that have limited interaction with traffic will draw many people to use them from both near and far away.  The increase tourist spending in proximity to trails can be a significant source for business development. This would include stays in hotels and other tourist accommodations along with patronage of food services and retail stores.
A similar but not identical version of these methods for measuring the business benefits of new or improved trails has been applied in a case study of the extension of the Legacy Trail in Sarasota, Florida.  The name of the study is The Value of the Legacy Trail Extension for Sarasota, Florida (Barnes 2017b). This was completed in 2017 and documents that the business benefits are between $55 and $80 million.  This case study will be described in a future posting on the "Business Benefits of Trails: The Case of the Legacy Trail Extension in Sarasota County." 


Barnes, Douglas. 2017a. A Primer on the Value of Bicycle Trails and Greenways. Post on Washington, DC.

Barnes, Douglas. 2017. The Value of the Legacy Trail Extension for Sarasota, Florida. Report Prepared for the Friends of Legacy trail by Energy for Development, Washington, DC

Boker, J., John Bergstrom, Joshua Gill, and Ursala Umanski. 2004. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics. Report prepared for the Virginia Department of Conservation, Richmond, Virginia.

Flusche, Darren. 2012. Bicycling Means Business: The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructue. Washington, DC: Advocacy Advance—A Partnership of the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

Herr, Andrew. 2016. Analysis of 2015 Trail Use Patterns along the Allegheny Passage. Report prepared for the Allegheny Trail Alliance, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Inveiss, Maija. 2016. ·”New technology counts how many people are on State Street” The Badger Herald, Madison Wisconsin. September 20, 2016.

Krizek K. 2006. “Two Approaches to Valuing Some of Bicycle Facilities’ Presumed Benefits: 2007 National Planning Conference in the City of Brotherly Love.” Journal of the American Planning Association 72(3): 309–20.

Martin, Stephen. 2017. “Calculation of Trail Usage from Counter Data.” Report prepared for Friends of the Legacy Trail, Venice, Florida.

Martin, Stephen, Megan Donaghue, Jerry Drol, Darryl Lang, Carla Martin, Caroline Nondin, Roger Normand, and Andrea Seager. 2017. "Results and Analysis of a Survey of Users of the Legacy Trail and Venetian Waterway Park Performed during June and July of 2016". Friends of the Legacy Trail Report, Venice, Florida.

McConnell, Virginia, and Margaret Walls. 2005. “The Value of Open Space: Evidence from Studies of Nonmarket Benefits.” A Resources for the Future Paper, Washington, DC.

PCMPO (Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization). 2015. “2014 Pinellas Trail Survey of Users.” Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization, Florida.

Trail Town Program. 2015. "Trail User and Business Survey Report: Great Allegheny Passage". Report prepared by the Trail Town Program, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

US Census.. 2018. “2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations.” US Census, Department of Commerce, Washington, DC. Accessed 2018.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Renewing a 1976 Motobecane Grand Jubile

I have my doubts. The C and O bike loan program has just received a donation of a vintage 21 inch Motobecane Grande Jubile bicycle. The program manager had saved it from the junk pile especially for me. He says, “Doug, do you want to take this on as a project. I don’t know much about it. What do you think?”

The silver and red two-wheeler is leaning against the bicycle shed adjacent to the Great Falls Tavern in the C & O Canal National Historic Park near Washington, DC. The first impression is not a good one. The bike is covered in grime from years of sitting in a garage. This bike has the look of an over-powdered aging French Madame, down on her luck. The silver frame is covered with years of garage brown dirt hiding the imperfections of aging. The thin 27 by 1/8 inch tires are cracked and sagging. The rubber brake hoods are marbleized and wrinkled. The formerly bright ruby red cables have faded to an austere, dark maroon brown and are frayed at the bends. At first glance I balk at the thought of renewing this bicycle, considering it too much work.

“I’m not sure. She’s definitely a classic. But I don’t know what’s under all that dirt?”

Then I take a closer look. One good sign is that the bike has a set of Japanese Suntour Cyclone derailleurs. I see that under the grimy handlebar tape is a set of made in French Pivo Professonal handlebars. I read the sticker on the frame and it says “Construit avec Reynolds 531 3 Tubes Renforces,” or constructed with Reynolds 531 double butted chrome-molly main tubing. This the highest quality frame material back in those days. The cranks are classic French Stronglight, among the best of their times. I check the rims and they are Araya, 1970s classics from Japan. The hubs are Normandy, made in France. I measure the French Sedis chain and I can’t believe it is almost in original condition except for a bit of grime. The black and red winged head badge is bright and clear (figure 1). My curiosity is piqued.

Red and Black Bicycle Headbadge Closeup
Figure 1. Headbadge of 1976 Motobecane Grand Jubile.
Source: Doug Barnes
“This bike might have some potential, but it depends on condition of the paint and the compoenents. I’ll take it home and have a closer look.”

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Christmas Bicycle Story from the 1950s

The setting is Christmas in the 1950s in the small town of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. It is a recollection of one cold Christmas day warmed by memories that I had almost forgotten. My brother Russ resurrected my memories about this act of friendship and giving about 10 years ago in a play he wrote about growing up in Western Pennsylvania. Enjoy all over again the gift of giving a bicycle for Christmas in times that were less complicated than today.

Boy hanging Christmas stocking 1954
Hanging a Christmas Stocking in the 1950s
Source: Doug Barnes


My brother Russ asks John the golden question, "What're you gettin' for Christmas?" It's just after Thanksgiving and Russ, John Gronski and I are just beginning to discuss the upcoming holidays. At 9 years old John is a constant companion at our house, coming early and staying late. He often joins us for lunch.

Self assured, John says, "I'm gettin' a new bicycle."

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gender Equity is an Issue for the Transform I-66 Trail Design

The main beneficiaries of the currently proposed Transform I-66 bicycle and pedestrian trail will be male bicyclists who feel comfortable riding near or in traffic. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) should build a trail that will be popular among a wider variety of bicyclists and pedestrians. This would then expand the benefits of Virginia’s investment in the trail.

I highlighted some of these issues for the proposed trail in a previous posting on the unrealized benefits of the trail.  This is based on a white paper with the title "The Missed Opportunities of the Transform I-66 Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Design." I recently submitted written testimony on the preliminary design of the Transform I-66 Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail design to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Here is my written testimony.

(Beginning of Testimony) Thank you receiving my written testimony concerning the Transform I-66 bicycle and pedestrian trail.

I have some comments on the preliminary design of the trail. Underlying these comments is the desire, I think shared by VDOT and other supporters, that the trail should be popular among a diverse set of riders and pedestrians in the vicinity of the I-66 Corridor.

In a sense, for trails such as the proposed one along the I-66 corridor, you can say, “Build it and they will come.”

Or alternatively, you can say “Build it and they will stay away.” The result all depends on the trail design.

If the trail is perceived to be unpleasant or unsafe, then only dedicated bicyclists or pedestrians will ride or walk one it (12% of population). If it is found to be pleasant, safe, and convenient to use, then casual riders, children, commuters and others will want to use the trail (63% of population). It is quite common for local neighbors to fear trails before they are built, only to ride and walk on them after they are constructed. Properly built trails often are perceived like public parks, as a community amenity. People love them.

But all trails are not equal. People perceive trails to be pleasant or safe according to several factors: degree of separation from traffic, width of the path, adjacent car or truck speed, treatment of intersections, and connection to communities. Trails that are pleasant also will be used more and provide more community benefits in the form of walking or riding to school, shops, business or just a friend’s house. Trails that are pleasant will also draw people that want to commute, exercise and improve their health.

At present the design of the I-66 Outside of the Beltway Trail has some good points, but also suffers some problems. At 8-10 feet wide the trail does not adhere to current Federal Highway Administration guidelines of 12 feet. The trail inside the sound wall next to traffic will be unpleasant and perhaps even unsafe if a truck careens out of control. The trail still needs to make some progress in connecting neighborhoods, but surely the trail should run through Northern Virginia Community College. Spilling the trail out onto roads of unknown safety may be an issue. The trail built by several different actors and may be of significant different quality or not look like a single unified trail.

I would conclude with two last points. First, many bike lanes along major highways have no bicycles on them because they are perceived to be unpleasant or unsafe. Second, making the trail a pleasant and safe destination for local residents will be a lasting contribution to the communities along the I-66 corridor.

I am submitting both this testimony and a white paper on the benefits of trails for your consideration. The white paper also provides some examples of how the problems of bicycle and pedestrian trails along highways were successfully solved by others in the country. (End of Testimony)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Lost Benefits of the Transform I-66 Multi-Use Trail

The widening of the I-66 Corridor in Virginia just north and west of Washington, DC offers the rare opportunity to finance a state of the art bicycle and pedestrian trail for commuters interested in getting to work, for children going to school and for casual riders wanting to get from one neighborhood to another. The Transform I-66 project will cost the state and private investors $3 billion, so sufficient funds are available to have a state of the art bicycle facility that does not detract from the main goal of the project, which is to widen and improve the I-66 corridor outside of the Washington, DC beltway.

Unfortunately, the design of many parts of the trail means that for bicyclists and pedestrians the project will not be transformative. I am even tempted to say that the proposed trail does not follow best practices, but trails beside major highways are not the common. The consequence is that best practices have not been developed for such highways. However, this does not mean that the design of a bicycle trail can ignore all the best practices for general trail and separated bike lane designs in the professional literature and the recent recommendations of government organizations such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA 2015). The trail does meet the minimum guidelines for the Commonwealth of Virginia, but in some cases the project seems to have been granted exceptions from even those guidelines. This post was based on a white paper called The Missed Opportunities of the Transform I-66 Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail.

Critics of the Design of the I-66 Trail
The existing trail design has many positive aspects, but it also has many problems.  These have been highlighted by bicycle advocates in both Virginia and Washington, DC.  An article in the Washington Post titled, Biking advocates worry I-66 expansion project puts a bike trail too close to traffic,  highlights some issues on one part of the trail.  Other concerns have been published elsewhere by the WashCycle, the Washington Area Bicycle Association and the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, but I will briefly list them here.

·       About 3 miles of the trail is placed inside the sound wall beside high speed highway traffic making it an uninviting place to bicycle, walk, or exercise (figure 1). The sound wall will reflect sound back onto the trail and trap pollution from the adjacent highway. 

·       The trail has sections that make bicyclists and pedestrians travel further than a car on the I-66  highway. 

·       Connecting the trail to other local attractions and bicycle infrastructure was not given priority.  The W O & D, a major bicycle trail, is only one mile from the end of the trail.  

·       Gaps exist on the trail, and it appears bicyclists and pedestrians will be diverted onto roadways. Perhaps these roadways will be treated with bicycle lanes, but it takes away from the direct nature of a bicycle trail.  It’s left to others to make connect gaps in the trail. 
·       The trail for the most part is on one side of the highway.  A trail on both sides would mean greater access by local populations. 
·       The bicycle trail will be a maximum of 10 feet wide, with a 2 foot wide shoulder on each side.  In some space constrained areas the trail will be 8 feet wide. Current Federal Highway Administration guidelines recommend that 12 feet is preferred for bidirectional bicycle and pedestrian paths (FHWA 2015).  Also, if possible pedestrians should be separated from bicyclists. 

·       The I-66 Express Mobility Partners who will build the bicycle trail will not collect fees on the trail, so they may have limited incentives for producing a state of the art trail. 
Graphic drawing if traffic and bicycle lanes
Figure 1. Design of the I-66 Trail Inside Sound Wall.
Source: VDOT

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Restoring a Vintage 1983 Schwinn Le Tour

I work at the C and O Bicycle Loan Program at Great Falls Tavern as a volunteer mechanic every Sunday. The bicycle program takes donation bikes. One Sunday I go up to the bicycle shed to look over some new arrivals. Amidst the Wal-Mart and K-Mart bikes I see a vintage Champaign covered Schwinn Le Tour covered with dirt and cobwebs. Under the dirt, this Made-in-America Schwinn road bike is in great condition. I surmise it had been ridden a few years during the bicycle boom, and then stored in a garage. After inspecting the Le Tour, I also see that it has all its original parts. I know a bit of the history behind this bicycle, and I decide it's worth the time to restore the Le Tour to its original condition. Despite Schwinn’s reputation as a purveyor of sturdy children’s bikes, this Schwinn Le Tour was a high quality road bike for its time.

A Short History of the Schwinn Le Tour
The 1983 Schwinn Le Tour was a symbolic turning point for Schwinn. The story starts with the introduction of a made-in-Japan Schwinn Le Tour in 1973. The “Schwinn approved” Le Tour first showed up as a new offering in the company’s 1974 catalog. Schwinn decided to give into the stiff competition from Japan and Europe for producing high quality road bikes. With the exception of the Schwinn Paramount, the company had limited capacity to build high quality frames. The Schwinn Paramount was built in a small section of the Chicago factory up until 1983. After 1983 the Paramount  was made in a small factory in Waterford, Wisconsin.

In the 1970s the Chicago factory was hampered by years of a lack of capital investment in new machinery. As a result in 1973 Schwinn hauled up the white flag and outsourced many of its bicycles to Taiwan and Japan. This included the new Le Tour. For about 5 or 6 years the “Schwinn approved” Le Tour was manufactured by Japanese bicycle makers such as Panasonic or Bridgestone. The reason was that Schwinn’s factory in Chicago had become outmoded and was incapable of producing a large number of high quality crome-moly frames (a strong steel formally called chromium molybdenum) common among its Japanese and European competitors. Eventually Schwinn with the 1989 model returned the manufacture of the Le Tour to a small section in its Chicago factory. In the 1978 catalog the Le Tour is still "Schwinn Approved," which means it was made in Japan or Taiwan. In 1979 the catalog description of the Le Tour refers to a "Made in USA torched brazed lug frame." These Le Tours were likely made in Chicago. However, the factory in Chicago was shuttered in December 1983, so it is doubtful that the 1883 Le Tours were made in Chicago. 

In the early 1980s Schwinn made the decision to start a new factory in Greenville Mississippi. The factory opened in 1981. The 1983 Schwinn Le Tour I found leaning against the bicycle shed no doubt was among the first Le Tours to be produced in that factory. The design and components of the bicycle are very similar to those that had been imported during previous years. This was a period in which Schwinn was attempting to reestablish its manufacturing identity by returning some frame production to the United States. However, the experiment failed and in 1991 the Greenville factory closed. Bankruptcy was soon to follow. With a Chicago head badge, the 1973 Le Tour could have been made in Chicago, but its is quite unlikely. All indications are that the 1983 Le Tour was manufactured in the new Greenville factory and affixed with a Schwinn Chicago head badge.
Head Badge with Schwinn and Made in Chicago written on it.
Shwinn Le Tour Head Badge, 1983

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Legacy Trail Extension in Sarasota, Florida Will Be Worth over $300 Million

Recently I have completed a study of the costs and benefits of extending a new portion of a $58 million bicycle rails to trails project into downtown Sarasota, Florida. Despite high costs, this project—an extension of the existing Legacy Trail—is conservatively estimated to have just over $307 million benefits for Sarasota County. This is an economic net gain of over $250 million for the county. The conclusion is that this public outlay for bicycle infrastructure should have benefits for Sarasota County that are well worth the investments.

In a previous post I elaborated on the benefits of the development of bicycle trails. To be sure where land acquisition is necessary the cost of the trail extension is high, but having seen the actual benefits of the existing Legacy Trail completed about 10 years ago, the county government is strongly in favor of the trail extension. The issue the county government faces is how to raise the necessary money to pay for the trail extension.

In this post, I will summarize the results of this cost-benefit study of the Legacy Trail Extension into downtown Sarasota. For those interested I am linking the full version of the report that has the title The Value of the Legacy Trail Extension for Sarasota, Florida. All the figures in the tables are discounted dollars, a typical method for comparing future cost and benefits. Later in the post I will provide an update on the progress made to fund the Legacy Trail Extension. But first, I give an overview of the nature of the trail extension followed by an assessment of the value of the new trail.

Description of Legacy Trail Extension
The existing Legacy Trail in Sarasota, Florida is a 10-mile, high-quality pedestrian and bicycle corridor that runs from Venice to suburban Sarasota. This trail has road-quality pavement, rest stops called stations, and local vegetation on each side. It traverses several parks, allowing for easy access for both pedestrians and bicyclists. Recently, the Friends of the Legacy Trail have been promoting the extension of this trail from suburban to downtown Sarasota. Today the trail ends near Culverhouse Nature Park in Sarasota. The railroad tracks are still intact running from Culverhouse Nature Park to downtown Sarasota for a total of more than 7 miles (figure 1).

Man walking on railroad track to be a future Florida bicycle trail
Figure 1. Existing Legacy Trail and Land for Future Extension
Sources: Cardno, Inc., 2014 (left photo); Douglas Barnes, 2016 (right photo).