Individuals from the bike industry convened Wednesday evening (October 18) for a social event celebrating Bentonville’s mountain biking scene, Team USA athletes, and PeopleForBikes. Team USA dedicated two of their competition jerseys to Kalene Griffith (Visit Bentonville) and Steuart Walton (Runway Group) for their support and contributions to the team.
Willowbrook Elementary School won the top prize in a bike contest to promote student health and to better understand school infrastructure needs, according to campaign organizers. Runway Group will donate more than $40,000 to Bentonville schools in response to the students’ cycling efforts, said Krista Cupp, Runway’s communications director. Steuart Walton and Tom Walton, Runway founders, are funding the grants, she said. Tom Walton delivered the prize to Willowbrook on Wednesday by bicycle.
The Walton Family Foundation studies show cycling was responsible for $137 million in benefits brought to Northwest Arkansas in 2017, according to the 2018 Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling in Northwest Arkansas. That figure includes $51 million in economic activity and $86 million in health benefits. The foundation has invested in cycling over the past decade, including $74 million to help build 163 miles of soft-surface and paved bike trails across the region.
District schools are helping to further identify needs by encouraging students to ride bikes to school in September through the Bike Bentonville Schools campaign, said Leslee Wright, district communications director.
The district has partnered with Runway Group for the initiative, she said.
With hundreds of bicycles on school campuses this year, Bentonville Schools is launching a competition called Bike Bentonville Schools. The effort aims to encourage healthy lifestyles among students in the Mountain Biking Capital of the World™.
The Bentonville school with the highest percentage of students riding bicycles to class between Sept. 1 and 30 will win a $5,000 grant to use in any way they decide.
This fall, students at NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) and Minneapolis Community & Technical College can study bikes. The Bicycle Assembly and Repair Technician Certificate program — being offered at both schools for the first time — is an accelerated, two-semester program designed to prepare students for employment in the bicycle retail industry. Over the course of a year, students will learn a wealth of new skills, including extensive bicycle repair and service work, bicycle assembly, service department management and business.