Cycling advocates push back on summer visitor survey showing decline in summer biking tourism
January 9, 2017
Steamboat Springs — Cycling advocates in Steamboat Springs are pushing back against a summer visitor survey that recently led some of the city's elected officials to question plans for more advanced biking trails in the area.
The survey, which has spurred a debate in the community, was an intercept survey showing that the percentage of visitors who said they biked while they were in town has fallen significantly in the past two years.
Some city leaders recently pointed to the results of the survey as evidence the city might want to invest more of its lodging tax dollars in flatter, more accessible trails instead.
Cycling advocates say, “Not so fast.”
Some claim the survey doesn’t detect increased usage of trails by both locals and visitors.
Others are calling for the city to allow more trails to be built out before judging the success of a broad trail plan.
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"I'd like to call (the survey) bogus, but instead, I'll take some of the conclusions that were made, which is that technical trails aren't bringing more visitors to town … and, I'd like to point out we have yet to build a single technical trail in the proposal," trail designer Aryeh Copa said.
Copa, who has been involved with designing more technical trails that are being built on Buffalo Pass with the help of taxpayer money, questioned why some city leaders had reached a conclusion that the more advanced trails aren't bringing more tourists to town when they haven’t yet been built.
Other cycling advocates also questioned the survey data and urged the Steamboat Springs City Council to be patient when judging whether recent investments in trails had paid off.
"Probably five years after the trails are complete is when you're going to see the real spike," Routt County Riders Vice President Eric Meyer said. "It takes word of mouth in the cycling community."
Meyer noted that the trails proposal that won the backing of millions of dollars of the city's lodging tax revenue is a multi-use trails proposal, not just a cycling proposal.
The funding is dedicated to trail improvements for the next decade.
"It's kind of a surprise that two years into a 10 year project, and without quantifiable data, people are questioning the validity of this project," local cyclist Robin Craigen said.
Craigen said he has noticed more people using the trails in recent years.