KINGMAN - Bicycling could be one of the next economic engines for Kingman's economy. The Arizona Department of Transportation recently released a study showing that out-of-state cyclists spent more than $88 million in the state last year on tours, races, hotels, food and equipment. They also provided jobs for 721 people.
The study doesn't break down the numbers by county, but in the western region of Mohave, La Paz and Yuma counties, bicycle tourism brought in around $2.1 million and provided jobs for 29 people. According to ADOT, Arizona has many features that attract cyclists from all over the world, including its warm climate, sunny weather and draws such as the Grand Canyon and Route 66.
The numbers surprised Ran Hanks, the owner of Bicycle Outfitters in Kingman.
"That seems a little high," Hanks said "We do see an increase of in out-of-state visitors in the spring and fall. We get a lot from Europe."
Most of them are cycling along historic Route 66, he said. Sometimes the shop will get visits from two or three groups a week. Some of them come with RVs or another vehicle in tow; others have their bikes fully laden with supplies and ask for directions to the nearest campground or hotel.
Kingman Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director Josh Noble was also surprised by the figures. The chamber did a visitors study in 2010-11 that had a few comments from motorcyclists, but he couldn't recall any comments from bicyclists, he said.
"We do get a few calls throughout the year, about four or five, for assistance on a bike path along Route 66," Noble said.
However, the idea of making Kingman and Arizona more bicycle-friendly has merit, according to Noble. A bike path out of town on Route 66 or up in the Hualapai Mountains would be good, he said.
Hanks agreed and pointed to local trails on Bureau of Land Management land near Coyote Pass, such as Monolith Gardens: "Some days there's nothing out there. Other times you'll see grass or plants that are in bloom," he said. "It's always a different trail."