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Opinion

The elephant in the room is sitting on a bike


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • May. 28, 2019 - 9:43 PM

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If an industry exists that would pump millions of dollars into Coweta’s local economy, support small businesses, protect the environment, encourage tourism to our area, supplement the lost sales tax revenue of disappearing big box retailers, and promote physical health and wellness all at the same time, shouldn’t we consider it?

I’m not talking about the luring of another manufacturer or distribution center to Coweta. I’m referring to bicycle tourism. In 2017, a study by the Outdoor Industry Association found that cyclists spent $83 billion while touring areas of the U.S. on a bicycle. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported in 2018 that bicycle tourism contributed $96 billion to the U.S. economy in annual retail sales.

The elephant is in the room is sitting on a bike and no one is talking about it.

Why does cycling tourism make sense for Coweta? The county is home to more than 100 miles of bike routes. Three state bike routes pass through the county and the area hosts more than six road century events each year. Coweta also has a growing list of mountain bike trails 15-20 minutes from downtown Newnan.

Cyclists enjoy Coweta given its proximity to Atlanta while providing a rural experience in the west and south parts of the county. The local cycling community and the use of Coweta’s roads for cycling events has grown organically to this point.

The area has become a mini-destination for afternoon rides through the county but the promise of bicycling tourism has much more to offer. Coweta is postured to potentially be a destination that visitors might consider for multiple day stays.

Zombies are great, and The City of Homes is beautiful. However, we have another product to offer in Coweta that appeals to a broad audience and is well documented regarding economic impact. Leadership on both a municipal and county level area genuinely interested in tourism.

Why not bicycle tourism?

Why not pursue bicycling tourism the same way we pursue other industries? It provides another door to prosperity and hopefully our local leaders, Chamber of Commerce and local development authorities give it consideration in the near future.

Chris Doane