Monday, January 10, 2011

Bicycles on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: Power and Passion

By John R. Wennersten

The Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay retains its unique historic and rural flavor despite the incessant demands of modernization. Beach resorts, bayside fishing towns, manor houses, and quiet villages attract millions of tourists each year. Now bicyclists are discovering the quiet highways and byways of the region. Its flatness, with marshes, forests, and villages interspersed, is a magnet for cyclists.
About ten years ago, owners of Eastern Shore bed and breakfast inns began to notice a major upswing in bicycle tourist clientele. Urban sprawl on the East Coast was making it harder for city dwellers to find quiet roads to ride, and as a result, cyclists began turning to cycling-friendly destinations and events. Combined with the incredible popularity of the Seagull Century, a 100-mile bike tour through Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester counties, regional cyclists began recognizing the Eastern Shore as a road cyclist’s dream come true.
The Sea Gull Century "Explosion" 

The Sea Gull Century, from Salisbury to Assateague and back, sponsored by Salisbury University, exploded into a major bicycle happening. It began as a gathering of 65 friends and colleagues from the university. Within ten years, the ride grew to more than 9,000 riders from every state in the union and is known nationwide as one of the biggest and best-organized rides on the calendar. Now, every October, riders fill local restaurants and motels to capacity and make local cash registers ring. Sea Gull Century officials estimate the average event participant spends $167 plus motel costs for the one-day event, which results in over $1.5 million injected into the local economy. Other communities now plan companion activities on the same weekend to attract Century riders’ spouses and companions. The event proved decisively that the bicycle has become a significant engine of economic development.

Image by D.Clow - Maryland

more posts about bicycling:

Making Transportation Sustainable: Insights from Germany

Only 1% of the safety-related construction funds is spent for bicycling and pedetrians in the U.S.

Reclaiming the Streets on World Car Free Day

Cycle Superhighways Open in London

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