Take a Ride with Buddy Pegs

Nov 4, 2019

Husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Scott and Jannine Fitzgerald are on a mission. Their company, Buddy Pegs, has envisioned a world where the children of today become the joyful and inspiring leaders of tomorrow by introducing them to and helping to develop a love for cycling. 

After spending more than a decade in Wyoming, the Fitzgerald’s have moved to Northwest Arkansas to see their dream realized. Startup Junkie caught up new Bentonville resident Scott to learn more about his family’s entrepreneurial journey.  

So, what is Buddy Pegs?

On the surface, Buddy Pegs is a framework of support to help parents introduce their children to bicycling. We do this in two ways – 1) through our mobile Learn to Ride classes and 2) our children’s picture books and podcasts about biking. 

But it’s really much more than that. It’s also a concept about helping bring others “along for the ride.” The term Buddy Pegs is a throwback reference to the pegs kids used to screw to the back wheel of their bike so a friend cold stand on them and come along for a ride. We believe the bicycle is an amazing tool that helps kids (and adults) develop balance in their lives through self-confidence, resilience, connection to community, and a sense of freedom. Buddy Pegs helps connect families to the power of the bicycle and come along for the ride.

The Fitzgeralds

The Fitzgeralds

Where did the idea for Buddy Pegs come from? 

My wife and I owned and operated a local bike shop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for 14 years. While running the shop, we saw time and again how the bicycle improved people’s lives personally and improve our community as a whole. When we found out about the 43 percent decline in youth cycling since the year 2000, we knew we had to use our passion for bikes to reverse that trend. 

Around 2013 and ’14, our son was entering toddler age and we saw first-hand how little information there was about how to introduce a young child to cycling. Specifically, we were amazed at how connected he became to all these transportation-themed children’s media characters. Thomas the Tank Engine, Cars the movie, Chuck Truck. Where were the characters that rode bikes and went on human-powered adventures? There weren’t any. So, we decided to write our first book B is for Bicycles and create a world of animals who rode bikes and championed cycling culture. One thing rolled into another and from there we wrote a second book, took the characters into podcast form, and built our Learn to Ride classes and events.

Why is this so important? 

The stakes are really high. Of course, we hear a lot about the tripling of childhood obesity over the last generation, but sometimes we forget that the rates of childhood depression, anxiety, and suicide are also at record highs and climbing. All the statistics show kids today are growing up disconnected from the natural environment, disconnected from their community, and disconnected from a true sense of happiness. Bicycles can be a vehicle to provide all those connections. It’s an essential investment in our children’s health and our own.

What prompted the move to Northwest Arkansas? 

Last year, my wife and 8-year-old son moved into a small RV and toured the country coast to coast running Buddy Pegs events for over 1,000 families. During that trip, we made a stop in Bentonville because of all the cycling momentum here. What was supposed to be a 3 day stay turned into 3 weeks because we loved the area and the people here so much. After the tour, we realized that NWA was the perfect place to take our business to the next level.


What are you hoping to accomplish here? What does success look like? 

Success is a full schedule of year-round classes and events, across Northwest Arkansas, for kids two to seven years old. And we want to do that for two reasons. First, we want to provide all Northwest Arkansas families with an easy on-ramp to introduce their kids to bicycling. The trails, pathways, and bike parks that have been built here are incredible, but a lot of families still need more encouragement and instruction on how to use them – that’s what we provide. 

Second, we are focused on making Buddy Pegs Learn to Ride a national program after we model our business here in Northwest Arkansas. Showing what’s possible in this community, with our first mobile Learn to Ride van, will be key in our scaling efforts coast to coast. 

What can the entrepreneurial community do to help you? 

Please share our classes with families who may be interested. You can find details on our website, Facebook, and Instagram pages. We could also use help finding a post-production podcast editor and a new illustrator for our next picture book. Thanks! 

Special Note: 

Buddy Pegs is releasing a limited re-issue of its popular B is for Bicycles children’s book as B is for Bentonville, complete with new art from Kathleen Hanson, in celebration of Bentonville as one of the country’s most bike friendly communities. The book will be available later this month. 


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