2017 was St. Paul-centered season, birthing a separate and new chapter of Slow Roll: Slow Roll St. Paul. Slow Roll St. Paul’s focus was practicing safe(r) and more inclusive spaces, supporting local businesses, partnering with community organizations and leaders, highlighting community organizations and initiatives, and raising awareness surrounding local projects while staying true to being a slow, no-drop all-ages and -abilities ride. These rides took place in Frogtown/Rondo and East St. Paul every second and fourth Wednesday of the month – resulting in 8 projected Slow Roll St. Paul events. Slow Roll St. Paul was driven forward collectively by Cycles for Change and Smart-Trips & Transit for Livable Communities (smart-trips.org, tlcminnesota.org).
Here are some highlights of the season and ways we achieved our vision for Slow Roll St. Paul:
For the kick-off ride in Frogtown, Slow Roll St. Paul partnered with local artist, designer, and educator Donald Thomas (donaldthomasdesign.com) for the kick-off posters and Slow Roll St. Paul spokes cards. Donald designed Frogtown and East Side specific spokes cards.
Along our ride we brought participants to a community mural painted by St. Paul Smart-Trips youth, green spaces along Dale Street and Victoria Avenue, and a tour at the Hmong Cultural Center.Another event, were graciously hosted out of the brand new Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, admired the amazing art, and enjoyed “Huh?” a 30-minute wordless performance by Ten Thousand Things Theater.
Slow Roll St. Paul had the opportunity to have the Executive Director of the Hallie Q Brown center speak to participants about the history and importance of the center. Later, the group biked to the proposed location for the Rondo Land Bridge while one of the groups behind the project, ReConnect Rondo, gave some background on the neighborhood and the space the project aims to give back to the predominantly black community that was torn apart by the construction of highway 94 between 1956 to 1968.
Through Slow Roll St. Paul, participants explored how riding can look on busier streets, residential roads, and trails particularly throughout East Saint Paul – even having the opportunity to cross the new 3-lane initiative on Maryland. Urban Roots brought participants along a route highlighting the locations where they do their work throughout East St. Paul.
Our rides always end in a community meal. Slow Roll St. Paul made an intentional decision to support local restaurants – the majority of them owned by immigrants and refugees, black, Indigenous, people of color. We had food from Silhouette Bakery & Bistro (silhouettebakery.com), Judy’s Kitchen (judyskitchenstpaul.com/40492), Golden Thyme Coffee & Cafe (goldenthymeonselby.com), Urban Roots – Cook Fresh Crew, Flamingo Restaurant (flamingorestaurantmn.com), Homi Restaurant (homirestaurant.com), Union Kitchen (unionkitchenmn.com), and Fire on the Bluff (fireonthebluff.com). Thank you to all these businesses for filling our bodies with delicious foods!
This season has truly been a hub for many new, inexperienced, and infrequent bicyclists to ride along with more experienced, often commuter, or solo bicyclists. This allowed all participants to experience what community group bicycle rides can achieve through Slow Roll St. Paul rides. Participants got to meet their neighbors, learn more about who is doing work in their community and what work they are doing, and explore the beautiful city of St. Paul. There were families, young children, and even tiny dogs. The largest ride was about 50 riders with our youngest participant being one and a half years old! About a third of participants were frequent Slow Rollers who came to more than one of our rides this season. Here’s what three of them have to say:
“I first stumbled upon Slow Roll this past summer through social media. After learning more about its purpose, to be intentional about creating safe spaces, I was excited to come out to partake, support and be welcomed. There’s a beauty in exploring your community on two wheels that connects you to your surroundings in a different way, especially with a group of fellow cyclists. It was empowering to take up space on the roads that are generally dominated by automobiles. I truly appreciated having the opportunity to participate in Slow Roll this summer and I hope it continues!” –Leah Htet
“I recently bought a home (our first!) on the east side of St. Paul, and to be honest, we didn’t know our new neighborhood all that well. I’ve appreciated Slow Roll rides, especially on the East Side; I am glad I was able to participate in all of the East Side rides. The neighborhoods and the community on the east side are as unique and charming as other parts of St Paul. I was actually surprised by all of the participants and loved the energy and the enthusiasm they brought with them. I am traditionally a “bike for commuting purposes” or solo rider only sort of person, but I really enjoy these rides: they are well organized, they are inclusive, the leaders stress following the rules of the road, and they allow members of the community to interact with and get to know one another. I now have a better sense of bike boulevards and bike routes across in many parts of St Paul thanks to participating to various rides over the last 2 years and I feel more empowered to confidently bike in my new neighborhood. Thank you Slow Roll!” –Melissa Wenzel
“For me, partaking in the events with Slow Roll St. Paul has been a wonderful way to meet new people, explore various neighborhoods via biking while the crew keeps us safe along the way. I notice citizens on the streets and in cars friendly wave or beep us to show they acknowledge us on the roads. I like the connection that we all work as part of a team to promote our existence on the road in a safe way and then after our leisure ride, we enjoy a wonderful yummy hot meal that a local business accommodates us with. A big thank you goes to all the organizers that run this program. I am looking forward to the new season to explore some new neighborhoods.” –Moon Cox
We hope you all enjoyed riding with us this season of Slow Roll St. Paul! It was a beautiful summer of 2017–thank you all for riding with us! If you have any photos, suggestions, comments, or would love to share a quote of your experience please feel free to message Slow Roll St. Paul Coordinator Skye at [email protected] or fill out our survey here: https://goo.gl/forms/pfZxo2MrZVq1eyBH2
A special thanks to all the organizations that hosted and/or partnered with Slow Roll St. Paul: Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center (indigenous-roots.org), Urban Roots (urbanrootsmn.org), Hallie Q Brown Center (hallieqbrown.org), Sun Ray Library, East Side Freedom Library (eastsidefreedomlibrary.org), District 1 Community Council (district1council.org), Payne-Phalen Planning Council (paynephalen.org), Dayton’s Bluff Community Council (daytonsbluff.org), NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, Inc – Neighborhood Orange Bike Program (northpointhealth.org), Ten Thousand Things Theater (tenthousandthings.org), Hmong Cultural Center (hmongcc.org), and ReConnect Rondo (reconnectrondo.org).