3 Bentonville Bike Fest 2024 Takeaways

3 takeaways from last week's 5th annual Bentonvile Bike Fest:
Takeaway 1. Bentonville Bike Fest exists because of Walmart. Bentonville is the Walton family's hometown and Walmart's headquarters. Walmart's presence in town is everywhere, most obviously, in their stores and corporate buildings, and more subtly but powerfully, in the form of their growing collaboration with bike industry vendors and significant changes they are driving to build road and trail infrastructure that makes all forms of transportation safer and more accessible. I greatly enjoyed riding Bentonville's interconnected trails and well-marked roads, experiencing how drivers and cyclists interact and visiting with reps from Walmart private brand Ozark Trail bikes to see their high quality, exceptionally affordable line of road, trail and e-bikes designed specifically to get more people on bikes. Regarding "getting more people on bikes" Walmart is taking that line to heart internally by incentivizing 10% of their corporate headquarters employees, 1500 people, to commute to work by bike. 
Takeaway 2. Last year at Sea Otter 2023, I got a 100% supportive response from bike industry vendors when I pitched the idea of developing a community/business/outdoor industry-led Safe Streets For All campaign designed to supplement current rules, regulations and enforcement policies that are not bending the curve downward on the increased rate of traffic crashes. Last weekend at the Bike Fest, I pitched the same idea to vendors and visitors and told them that the first action step will be to implement a community/business-led Safe Streets For All initiative in Hickory, where I live, as soon as the traffic consultant recently hired by NCDOT to develop a Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan ("Highway" = all forms of transportation) for our four county area launches a website identifying roadway/traffic problems and recommended solutions that will connect to the QR code shown in the SS4A bumper sticker logo above. Our intent is then to use Hickory as a proving ground for a community/business-led campaign that can be adopted by other communities across the country.
Takeaway 3. Fun! Along with meeting lots of excellent people, both vendors and fellow cyclists, being at the fest was full-on fun that included high-risk world champion flatland BMX handling skills demos, hard-charging mountain bike racing, high-flying big air stunt jumping and, best of all, lots of kids everywhere loving being on bikes. Those kids are the shape of things to come and a big reason I keep feet on pedals to help make our streets safer for all with both Breitz! "Be Bright, Be Seen" performance wear and actively engaged public service.
Thanks very much, Bentonville. I'll be back!

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