As it happened, I made a last-minute trip to Bentonville for the launch a new mountain bike. Which happened to coincide with Outerbike and the Big Sugar gravel race. And since I don’t like having any downtime whatsoever, I squeezed in an interview with Gary Vernon, who is basically the orchestrator of all things bike advocacy and infrastructure in Bentonville, Arkansas.
If you haven’t been to Bentonville to ride, all I can say is this: When you finally do go, and I do mean WHEN, not IF, your mind will absolutely be blown.
Talking about bike lanes and infrastructure and access and trails is one thing. But seeing how they’ve made it an integral part of their entire community and city planning is honestly beyond words. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try, so if you’re at all involved in your city’s planning, or your local bike advocacy group, or you just want to hear what’s possible and get inspired to make cycling better in your own community, this episode will absolutely open your eyes to what’s possible.
I’ve been to Bentonville about 5 or 6 times over the past 8 years, and every time I’m floored by their progress.
As a cyclist, especially if you’re a mountain biker, it has to be on your bucket list of places to go. We’ve written a steller Where to Ride story on the area and one about all the other fun stuff to do there. But the most important takeaway here is to see what’s possible when the whole community gets behind a vision.
What can I do to improve cycling in my city?
It might seem like this is impossible anywhere else. After all, they have massive private funding (courtesy, Waltons) and a nearly blank slate to start with. But the most important thing is that they started. And we can all start somewhere.
Here are a few of the resources and things mentioned in this episode:
- Blue Crane
- Bike Bentonville Schools (links to Bentonville Schools homepage)
- Slaughter Pen
- OZ Trails
- Railyard Bike Park in Rogers, Ark.
- The school program through the Strider Education Foundation that Gary mentioned
- MTB Afghanistan
- NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s Bicycle Assembly & Repair Technician Program
- Leopard Loop – glow trail in Slaughter Pen trail system in Bentonville (It’s approximately in the middle of the map linked here and is a blue trail)
- Linked here is a video overview of the trail from Rich Drew
- Rock Solid Trail Contracting
- Glow Ride (linked here is the Eventbrite page from this event that happened last year)
- Trail Labs by IMBA in Bentonville
- Economic Impact Study (PR link, and here’s the final report from the study.)
- NICA in Arkansas
Share this (and this post/podcast) with your city and county council members. Send them to your local advocacy group and trail builders. Share them with your fellow cyclists. The more people who see what’s possible and want it, the more we can start getting bikes near the top of the planning priorities everywhere.
THIS EPISODE BROUGHT TO YOU BY…
If you’re looking for a tasty post-ride beverage, check out 10 barrel brewing’s awesome assortment of beers and support them for supporting us! They’re only available on the west coast of the US for now, but absolutely worth checking out if you can find it…or one of their breweries!
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