Pump up the two-wheeler, clip your helmet strap, bring a friend and cruise up and down the streets of Detroit…with Slow Roll!
Four Wheels and Seven Years Ago…
Having rolled out in 2010, Slow Roll was formed to change the perspective of Detroit, educate individuals and foster community and friendship. Starting small, co-founders Jason Hall and Mike MacKool gathered a group of friends to view the city from the seat of their bikes. Each week more people showed up and that trend hasn’t stopped.
It started because Hall moved back to Detroit from South Beach, Florida, to give back and reconnect with his hometown. In an interview with Opportunity Detroit’s radio co-host, Paul W. Smith, Hall said he was dedicated to helping the Motor City, “There were people in Detroit that needed to be here to give everything that they could give. That means my volunteer time. That means my dollars if I have a job, so I was invested in that idea.”
Word spread and with each week, more and more riders were showing up and bringing friends along. In a way, it became a movement, not just in the physical sense but in a practical one, a fun, engaging way for people to get fit, enjoy their city and literally just slow down. The weekly joyride caught the attention of Apple, who in 2014 featured Slow Roll in a commercial highlighting the iPad and how Hall and MacKool coordinate their rides and engage with fans using the device.
Today, Slow Roll attracts 5,000 – 10,000 participants on Mondays throughout the year, giving riders an appreciation of Detroit’s beautiful nooks and crannies that are often missed when riding in a car.
Pedal with the People
All ages, riding skills and types of bike are welcome. Some bikes have amazing bells and whistles, including lights, speakers and flashy paint jobs! Hall said that he and MacKool wanted everyone to feel welcome, getting the point across that Slow Roll is about slowing down and taking time to see what is going on around the city, with rides lasting between 60 – 90 minutes.
With the help of the Detroit Police Department, riders travel on pre-planned routes. These routes change weekly which encourages riders to come back to see the whole city. Some of the past rides highlighted areas such as the Michigan Science Center, West Riverfront, and Batch Brewing Co. Last year, Slow Roll had a total of 12,000 registered members. The membership is free but a $15 basic membership donation to the nonprofit is encouraged. There is also a premium membership option ($60). These funds go directly back into the organization’s operating costs, police assistance and city permits. Membership applications for the 2017 season can be found online.
For details about future rides, meeting places and what you should bring for your ride, visit Slow Roll Detroit. To hear more from Jason Hall, check out his interview with Paul W. Smith on Opportunity Detroit.
Have you participated in Slow Roll? Tell us about your experience below!