Adding Up Impact: Showcasing Maine
This case study is part of MANP’s Stories of Impact series, highlighting the many ways Maine’s nonprofits are essential to a strong and healthy Maine.
What if you could boost eco-tourism, promote healthy living, and invest almost a quarter of a million dollars in local economies of 6 Maine communities – and do it all in one week? That’s just what the Bicycle Coalition of Maine accomplished with its inaugural “BikeMaine” in September 2013. BikeMaine has:
- Invested $235,000 in goods and services across 6 Maine communities.
- Promoted Maine tourism, showcasing local communities and enterprises for 251 eco-touring cyclists from 37 states and Canadian provinces.
- Supported Maine’s agriculture industry with locally-sourced menus at each stop.
- Raised an additional $3,000 in contributions to local nonprofits.
- Stretched its investment dollars for the project with in-kind advertising and hundreds of volunteer hours valued at more than $60,000.
- Increased the number of riders and visitors in year two (2014), bringing in $395,000 to another 6 Maine communities.
The Story Behind the Impact
Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (“BCM”) has promoted bike safety, assisted local communities to make downtowns more “bike-pedestrian friendly,” and boosted eco-tourism through cycling. In 2013 BCM launched “BikeMaine,” a week-long, 350 mile group bicycle ride promoting tourism and partnering with local communities to showcase attractions across the state.
An advisory group worked closely with the Maine Downtown Network to identify suitable host communities with vibrant and walkable downtowns, good infrastructure, and space for overnight camping in a makeshift bike village. Equally important was creating an itinerary to showcase Maine’s beauty and culture and offer airport and train access for riders coming from across the country.
The partnership ensured that local vendors benefitted from the ride: planners and participants patronized local businesses for all the event’s needs, from tent rentals, showers, and porta potties, to support services, entertainment and souvenir shopping along the route. Maine agriculture was featured, too, since menus were not only healthy but locally-sourced. Many inaugural riders brought friends and family for the week, boosting the benefit to local economies.
In year two, BikeMaine expanded its connection to schools by offering a 4th grade geography curriculum aligned with Maine Learning Results (thanks, initially, to a school superintendent who tackled the route to provide “real time” classroom instruction), and invited 10 at risk students from a local high school program focused on teaching life skills through bicycle repair to provide services to BikeMaine for the week. The Nature Conservancy provided ecological information for daily route maps and offered environmental lectures at various stops, and BikeMaine’s website archived routes as lasting resources for new eco-tourists.
BikeMaine stretched its investment dollars for the project with in-kind advertising and hundreds of volunteer hours valued at more than $60,000. The vision is to achieve what other states have with week long bicycle rides that annually attract more than 2,000 riders, infuse over a million dollars into local economies, and inspire residents to get on their bikes.
BCM’s Executive Director Nancy Grant notes that BikeMaine “provides such a positive experience no matter how you’re involved and helps [us] advance biking culture in Maine, one community at a time.”
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