Study: Biking generates $159M in economic impact in Northwest Arkansas

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,760 views 

The University of Arkansas released a report Monday (June 12) showing that Northwest Arkansas’ cycling industry contributed $159 million to the economy in 2022 through cycling-related jobs, tourism revenue and taxes.

The Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business conducted the analysis. The Walton Family Foundation commissioned the study, covering Benton and Washington counties.

Click here for a PDF of the report.

According to the study, biking businesses — encompassing bike shops, repairs, equipment and trail maintenance — generated more than $100 million in revenue and created 743 jobs. Additionally, these businesses contributed $6.1 million in state and local taxes.

The study highlighted the positive effect of cycling events on the local economy. These events, which require accommodations, dining and shopping, generated revenue streams for various affiliated industries. Biking tourism alone accounted for $59 million in revenue, supporting 587 jobs and contributing $4.8 million in state and local taxes.

Beyond the economic advantages, regular biking demonstrated significant health benefits for Northwest Arkansas residents. The study found that 3.7% of the region’s residents who bike five days a week experienced reduced risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. That resulted in an estimated avoidance of $59 million in chronic health costs, as stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To gauge interest and participation in biking in 2022, UA researchers conducted a survey in Northwest Arkansas. The findings revealed that 63% of adults owned at least one bike, while 33% of adults reported riding a bike in the past year. Among the riders, 72% reported biking at least three days per month, with nearly 41% riding three to nine days per month and approximately 12% riding 20 or more days per month.

Notably, Walmart sponsored the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championship in Northwest Arkansas, held in Fayetteville’s Centennial Park, in January 2022. The prestigious three-day event attracted 17,500 spectators, race participants, race officials, event staff and volunteers. The researchers estimated that the event generated nearly $9.9 million in economic activity.

In addition to the Walmart UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championship, other notable biking events last year included Square to Square, Joe Martin Stage Race, Big Sugar Gravel, Arkansas Enduro Series and Battle for Townsend Ridge.