The Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway
Together with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, the WCCOG is working to develop, promote, and maintain the Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway — a world-class, permanent bicycle route that serves both visitors and residents, contributes to the local economy, and connects the people and places of the Bold Coast region.
The Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway winds for 300 miles through over 2-dozen communities from the Schoodic Peninsula to Eastport, and connects via the East Coast Greenway and US Bicycle Route 1 to Calais and the Canadian Maritimes. (Click here to view the DRAFT bikeway route).
Upon completion, the Scenic Bikeway will be supported by digital maps and equipped with way-finding signs. An interactive, mobile-friendly website will tell the environmental and cultural stories of each community through trip digests, a blog, social media, photography, and route itineraries that guide riders to the most visitor-ready assets and amenities of the region. A local and national marketing plan will promote the route and region. (Click here to learn about other biking opportunities in the DownEast Acadia region.)
The Scenic Bikeway route is based on the successful implementation of BikeMaine 2016, Discover the Bold Coast — an event of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. BikeMaine 2016 successfully engaged numerous communities from Winter Harbor to Eastport to bring BikeMaine 2016 to the Bold Coast Region. Over 400 riders and their support crews bicycled 300 miles in 7 days. In total, the event brought $626,000 in direct economic impact to Washington County. This event perfectly aligned with a years-long regional effort to shine light on the unique and little-known natural and cultural assets that characterize this region. Because the Bold Coast region is a unique and beautiful place, expert bicyclists recognized its potential to attract more visitors…and the Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway was born!
Why A Scenic Bikeway?
The core purpose of the Scenic Bikeway is to create sustainable opportunities for communities to preserve, develop, and promote their most valuable natural and cultural assets — and make them more accessible to visitors and residents alike.
The Scenic Bikeway works in conjunction with the Bold Coast Scenic Byway to help people access the unparalleled natural beauty of this region through a mode of transportation that allows a more intimate, exhilarating experience of the Bold Coast. Several other local and regional initiatives are in the works to support bicycle tourism, outdoor recreation, and bicycle/pedestrian safety throughout Downeast Maine.
By building upon existing resources, developing a Scenic Bikeway helps communities:
- strengthen their identity;
- honor their past; and
- set the framework for a successful and vibrant future.
The proposed work:
- builds the capacity of our communities to thrive despite changing environmental conditions;
- increases civic engagement in natural resource stewardship; and
- promotes long-term development based on strengthened local opportunity.
The Scenic Bikeway and Our Economy
The economic health of Washington County is intricately tied to its rich natural environment, and is heavily reliant on natural-resources industries - particularly commercial fisheries, agriculture, and tourism. This work will prepare businesses and municipalities to contribute to the long-term, economic success of bicycle tourism.
Bicycle Tourism is a fast-growing segment of the Recreation Tourism Industry. Bicycle tourism attracts active, health conscious, nature-loving people who desire unspoiled vistas and an authentic, hands-on experience of place. Bicycle tourism also attracts a demographic of visitors attracted to the DownEast Acadia region in general. They are higher income, well educated families who seek balance in life, enjoy trailblazing experiences, desire educational opportunities and active engagement, and are in tune with nature. With our historic villages, intact natural resource-based economy and strong outdoor traditions, the Bold Coast region absolutely offers numerous opportunities to fulfill the authentic, nature-based experience these visitors value so much.
Outdoor Recreation Tourism Trends
Overnight visitors to the DownEast Acadia region are more likely than visitors to the State of Maine as a whole to be interested in active outdoor activities and touring or sightseeing. Nearly three in four visitors participating in touring/sightseeing activities do so through enjoying the ocean views and rocky coast or general sightseeing. Bicycling/mountain biking is enjoyed by 20% of overnight visitors engaging in active outdoor activities.
According to Maine Office of Tourism research, an estimated 5.3 million visitors came to the DownEast Acadia region (Washington and Hancock counties together) in 2015, which is13.6% of all Maine visitors. In 2015, DownEast Acadia visitors spent $964 million, up 8.4% over 2014. This spending supported 16,547 jobs, provided $311,211,208 in total earnings, and contributed $90,237,321 in total taxes. Bicycle tourists spend approximately 29% more than other tourists, and tend to stay in an area longer.
Our Planning Committee
Pro-active, local planning empowers our communities to guide future growth in ways that are most appropriate and beneficial to their long-term goals. Through nature-based tourism and recreation planning we will continue to engage individuals, youth, businesses, and organizations to recognize, describe, protect, and promote our abundant and valuable natural and cultural assets.
The Scenic Bikeway is being developed, promoted, and maintained by a strong network of businesses, organizations, bicyclists, and community leaders. In June 2016 we formed a planning committee comprised of people dedicated to bicycling, outdoor recreation, health and fitness, economic development, tourism development, preservation of natural resources, and local stewardship — the Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway Planning Committee.
The Planning Committee provided first-hand insight and local expertise from across the entire Bold Coast region. The group assessed key natural and cultural assets of the proposed Bikeway, identified market opportunities, and prioritized specific projects to implement key strategies. They voiced concerns, presented ideas, contributed resources, and prioritized actions in order to create a management plan that is representative of the values, strengths, and personalities of the diverse communities through which the Bikeway passes – and that guides bicyclists through the safest and most pleasurable riding experiences.
Partners in this project come from the many communities along the Scenic Bikeway route, as well as from across the state of Maine. WCCOG draws upon these strong partnerships to ensure the Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway is successful for the people who call the Bold Coast region home.
We deeply appreciate our financial, technical, and programatic supporters without whom we could not do this work — Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, C.F. Adams Charitable Trust, National Park Service, DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Maine Department of Transportation, and Maine Office of Tourism, Healthy Acadia, Sunrise County Economic Council, and Downeast Public Health Council, Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Down East Sunrise Trail, Maine Island Trail Association and Maine Coast Heritage Trust.