From the chair: Biking is big business; let’s adapt

  • Dec. 3, 2015 8:00 a.m.

Andrew Gower

Special to The Record

 

Riding bicycles isn’t just a fun hobby here in the Comox Valley – it’s also becoming big business. The combination of a stunning natural environment, relatively little pollution as a result of minimal industrial activity, and favourable topography make our area a natural cycling destination. This confluence of factors continues to attract cyclists of all types — both to live and visit here — and that is a major benefit to our local economy.

If we start by doing a quick review of the specialty bike shops in the Valley, we find that there are seven in total (not including Hornby Island). Trail Bicycles, Mountain City Cycles, Sara’s Bicycles, and the Broken Spoke are all in Courtenay. Blacks and Simon’s Cycles are located in Comox, and Dodge City Cycles is in Cumberland. Between them they have at least 20 employees, and if we assume industry standard pay, that represents an annual payroll on the order of $600,000.

However, there are many other businesses that sell bikes and bike-related goods. Blue Toque Sports Swap sells used bikes and products. Most major retailers including WalMart, Canadian Tire and Costco also sell bikes and bike-related products. All of these businesses are trying to be a part of the several hundred-million dollar cycling and related goods retail market in Canada.

Beyond retail sales, many other businesses in the Valley are directly related to the cycling industry. Each year since 2007, the BC Bike Race has brought several hundred mountain bikers from around the world to Cumberland, spending money locally on food and lodging. The United Riders of Cumberland have been running race events since the early-2000s, bringing mountain bikers here from all over the Island and the mainland. Mount Washington had lift-accessed mountain biking, which was also an attraction that brought people from out of town and provided employment for people on the hill. The Comox Valley Cycle Club hosts road bike events, which also attract out-of-town competitors. Finally, the newest development is in cycle touring, guiding and coaching. Island Mountain Rides provides guided tours of mountain bike trails. Island Joy Rides provides fully supported cycle touring all over the Valley and the Campbell River area. Drift Mountain Biking provides coaching and guiding to mountain bikers of all skill levels.

The international and national attention the events and businesses in the Valley have provided over the years, combined with the excellent cycling resources for both road and mountain bikers (roads and trails), is starting to add up. There is potential for the Comox Valley to leverage this sustainable business opportunity to an ever-increasing scale, following in the footsteps of such places as Moab, Utah — an incredibly popular mountain bike destination — and many places in Europe that have prosperous cycle touring industries. Looking at Moab in particular, mountain bike tourism is estimated to inject over $8 million per year into the local economy.

To take advantage of this healthy, relatively low environmental impact, and profitable business opportunity, our local governments need to work towards making the Valley bike-friendly. Bike infrastructure and bike-centric policy are two important tools local governments can use to boost this industry.

 

 

Andrew Gower is the chair of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A bench designed and created by Comox woodworker Brian Mayenburg. Photo submitted
Building for a cause to better the community

Comox woodworker raising funds for Comox Valley Food Bank

Greg Baute (inset), senior director of breeding and genetics at Aurora Cannabis, will be the guest speaker at the next Comox Valley Horticultural Society (CVHS) meeting. Photo supplied
Cannabis breeding discussed at next Comox Valley Horticultural Society meeting

Greg Baute, senior director of breeding and genetics at Aurora Cannabis, will… Continue reading

The next speaker in NIC’s online 2021 Artist Talk series is Scott Amos, one half of the group Monkey C Interactive, which has drawn attention for transforming old technologies into interactive works of art, such as Registroid (supplied photo)
Next North Island College Artist Talk speaker breathes new life into old technology

Interactive installation artist Scott Amos will be the next speaker at North… Continue reading

The platanthera dilatata is the fragrant white bog orchid whose perfume on a hot August day is one of the unforgettable delights of a summer hike in Strathcona Park. Photo supplied
Strathcona Wilderness Institute AGM upcoming

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI) will hold its 2021 annual general meeting… Continue reading

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Most Read