BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Every Monday, Slow Roll Buffalo offers the community a chance to join in on a weekly adventure, but also a chance to connect with their neighbors. Their kickstands go up for the first time this year on Monday, marking a decade of community outreach.
“It’s about people, it’s about places, it’s about causes. We’ve learned so much about each other and our city over the past decade,” said Seamus Gallivan, Co-Founder of Slow Roll Buffalo. “The bike is just a vehicle, overall, it’s about connection.”
Slow Roll started in Detroit to connect the community with aspects of the city that daily commuters may not see, and the idea has branched out to Cleveland and to the Queen City.
“The idea was really to help people see what was happening in the inner city. The founders were really frustrated by the individuals that were just kind of coming into the City of Detroit to work, and leaving right back out and not really having any true investment in the city and what it looked like,” said Janelle Brooks, the Board President of Slow Roll Buffalo. “Individuals have the opportunity to connect in ways they may not do on a regular basis.”
Brooks, who now serves as the Board President, got her start with Slow Roll Buffalo after getting stuck in traffic. She says she was curious and awestruck by the number of people who came out to ride together and joined the next week.
“Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors, and we work really hard to help individuals know each other, support each other, and connect with each other,” Brooks said. “Many of us own homes within the City of Buffalo, all of our board members live within the City of Buffalo, and that’s really important for us to ensure that we are responding to the need of the community at a particular time.”
Brooks lives in the East Side, and following the 5/14 racist mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue, the organization came together to pivot from a ride that following Monday to helping neighbors facing food insecurities, especially in the food desert.
“We pivoted like what we are able to do as an organization and truly got down to what our mission is which is connecting people, places and causes, and so what we used that platform that day was to create a food distribution center, we raised almost $30,000 that we were able to redistribute to other non-for-profit organizations,” Brooks said.
On May 15, the day after the one-year mark of the 5/14 massacre, Slow Roll will be holding a “Truth and Reconciliation” ride that will focus on discussing redlining, and showing the differences between the East Side and other surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the obstacles the East Side faces.
“The cameras have gone, the national recognition has gone, and people paying attention to it in that regard has gone, but folks are still there. We are still there, and the East Side is still there, so we want to make sure that individuals have the opportunity to talk about Truth and reconciliation, and what that truly looks like,” Brooks said.
There are 27 Monday rides that Slow Roll will ride weekly, rain or shine, this year. Slow Roll is free and inclusive to everyone to take part in, building the connection of the Queen City, one petal at a time. Children under 14 are required to wear a helmet, and training wheels are not allowed.
To see the full list of rides, visit their website here.
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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.