There may be no one better qualified to talk about getting people on bikes than the man who’s helped get 5,000 people to come out and ride once a week in America’s motor city.
This is why we are so pleased to announce that Jason Hall co-founder of Slow Roll Detroit and the Slow Roll movement will be presenting a keynote address at the Winter Cycling Congress 2016.
Slow Roll is one of the largest group bike rides in the country. In the past five years, Slow Roll Detroit has grown from three people to 5,000. As a movement, Slow Roll has grown from one city to 12 and they’re aiming for 100 cities in the next five years. Jason recently talked to us a bit about how Slow Roll came to be and why it’s working.
Five years ago, Jason and co-founder Mike MacKool were experiencing the same struggle as others in their city. Instead of despairing after being laid-off, the two spent their extra time on their bikes reconnecting with their city. With the idea of helping to repopulate Detroit, they started asking friends to join a weekly ride showcasing the positive things happening and ultimately spreading love for the place they call home.
What began with three has grown into what is essential a weekly parade large enough to require police escorts. Jason sees the success of Slow Roll Detroit resulting from three qualities. First, the diversity of people who participate is really amazing to new riders. “We have a huge line between city and suburbs, Slow Roll helps people cross that line,” Jason said. When they cross that line, they get the chance to meet new people. The camaraderie that develops so naturally when people ride together at a slow pace is the second thing that kept people coming back for more. Finally, the opportunity to discover the city is unique for both new and life-long residents. “Once your remove people from cars, they start to see the city in a different light,” Jason said.
While the Slow Roll Detroit rides are planned April through the end of October, events and classes are offered through the winter. Winter rides are also planned around the holidays, such as Martin Luther King Day. Jason said these rides usually attract 300-400 people and bring out those people are generally riding bikes year-round.
Of course, Jason rides his bike year-round and said he enjoys the challenge. He believes it’s true that there is no bad weather, only bad clothes and encourages new winter riders to talk to more experienced riders and start small with short rides.
Slow Roll has made bicycling accessible and it’s given visibility to the movement. More bike lanes are being built in Detroit. “We have a voice,” Jason said.
We’re looking forward to hearing more from Jason in February and hope you’ll join us.
Sign-up is available here and the Snowy Owl (early-bird) discount expires on Monday, 7 December.