Creating a safe space for Black bodies on bikes

Slow Roll's weekly group bicycle rides encourage participants to reconnect with their neighborhoods at a slower pace

A child rides their bicycle up a slight incline
Sixth-grader Charytee Medas stands on the pedals as she rides north on Park Avenue during a Slow Roll group ride on Tuesday.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

“Black bodies in motion are the ultimate expression of freedom,” says Slow Roll MSP founder Anthony Taylor.

On Tuesday, Slow Roll MSP held a group bicycle ride through south Minneapolis, one in a series they are hosting throughout the summer. According to Taylor, Slow Roll MSP aims to help people reconnect to their communities and create a safe space for Black bodies on bikes. 

Before each ride begins, Slow Roll MSP mechanics provide on-site safety checks to ensure each rider’s bike is functioning properly. Loaner bikes are also available for community members to ride, free of charge. 

Slow Roll attracts riders of all ages and experience levels. Sisters Caymeann and Charytee Medas said this was their first summer riding with the group, while north Minneapolis resident Eva Bailey has been coming to Slow Roll rides since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

Taylor, who also leads community development at the nearby Cultural Wellness Center, hopes the group rides help participants rediscover the neighborhoods they live in by bike.

“Tonight we looked at four different types of bike infrastructure,” said Taylor, gesturing toward 38th Street with one hand and balancing a full bowl of soup in the other. “And now we're having a community meal hanging out in the neighborhood.”

The community meal served as an important coda to the evening, offering a space for riders to engage in casual conversation and an opportunity to tell passing neighbors about the next slow roll. 

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