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Another Voice: Slow Roll is having a positive impact on Buffalo

By Justin Booth

Slow Roll Buffalo is having a tremendous impact on our community. Participants love the ride as it encourages bicycling as a tool to help all people, whether young or old, black or white, urban or suburban, to be healthier, more active and more connected to one another.

Led by a police escort each Monday evening, we work to keep this free-to-all bike parade moving en masse to ensure the ride is safe, to minimize delays and to provide a clear path for emergency responders.  

Watching it pass from a car, it is a curious phenomenon, much like a 5K or other event that temporarily breaks our traffic routine. But once you ride it or experience it from your porch and feel the camaraderie, it becomes infectious. 

Slow Roll has grown to upwards of 2,000 people each week, with people from all backgrounds, income levels, geography, age and, increasingly, race. In a region as segregated as ours, this rolling block party promotes the kind of unity we are all striving for.

Slow Roll, now a program under GObike Buffalo, is a mechanism to increase community engagement to help advocate for safe, complete streets for everyone, including improving sidewalks, adding bicycle infrastructure and increasing access to transit. So much more can be addressed by breaking free of our typical divisions and assumptions that build when we fail to engage each other on a personal level, something that riding a bicycle side by side provides in ways driving cannot.  

While most events in the city stick to well-known venues, Slow Roll touches all neighborhoods, including the communities where we are working to expand complete streets and make it easier for more people to ride. Local businesses, including everything from local breweries to an East Side bowling alley, have experienced the positive impact many people can bring to neighborhood economies.

While Slow Roll has been well received in every neighborhood it has visited, nothing has universal appeal. Unlike many once-a-year events, Slow Roll’s long season means lots of details to iron out each week. 

Based on feedback, we have enacted new protocols to better engage residents, including signage, communication with Common Council members and neighborhood canvassing; we continue to strive to do more. 

As we work to make Buffalo a better city through bicycling, we want to hear how we can enhance our work to develop solutions to support a united city. Please send your ideas for how Slow Roll can continue to create an inclusive, equitable and family friendly event to

Let’s continue to work together to make Buffalo a great city for everyone.

Justin Booth is executive director of GObike Buffalo.

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