Not Everyone Loves Slow Roll Bike Rides

October 15, 2015, 8:45 AM


Many cyclists enjoy the increasingly popular "Slow Roll" bike rides on Monday evenings in Detroit.

But not everyone, as Michael Jackman writes at Metro Times:

Some city residents are routinely annoyed by the ride on Monday nights, as Slow Rollers can paralyze all other forms of transportation while they creep by. As ambassadors to the city, their record is mixed.

One city resident complains, "My 15-minute drive from downtown to Hamtramck took me 45 minutes. It's goddamn nightmare. Their smug faces, smiling and waving. I was fucking two minutes from grinding them into the pavement."

Another resident says, "The best is when I get out of work and want nothing more than to drink a beer but get stuck in the parking structure for 45 minutes because these assholes close the street down that I exit on."

Then there's John G. Rodwan Jr., who writes critically about the ride in Belt Magazine.

When Slow Roll changed from being just a bike ride, albeit a very crowded one, to a membership organization, I had to think about whether this was I group I wanted officially to join. Did I want to inch along in rides that could take up to two hours to go ten (or fewer) miles? Did I want to be constantly on the lookout for distracted or inconsiderate riders as they weaved about the streets? Did I want to declare myself a part of a group that included small but hard to miss contingents who’d blast loud music even as they went down otherwise quiet residential streets, or who’d ignore instructions to stay to the right side of the road and behave as if the sheer size of Slow Roll meant they could ignore the rules of the road? Once police rather than unauthorized volunteers started to hold back traffic at intersections, did I want to be part of a mass that could, for a half an hour or more, interfere with drivers just trying to get home from work, for the sake of an excruciatingly slow ride to nowhere?

Obviously, no. While I did enjoy riding alongside an old friend who’d become a devotee of social rides, and while the novelty of 3,000 to 4,000 bicyclists riding together was initially entertaining, the downside, for me, easily outweighed any upside. Critical Mass rides, large group rides that cause controversy in other cities, occur in Detroit, too, but in a more sedate fashion than in some places. In Detroit, for both monthly Critical Mass and weekly Slow Roll rides, many cyclists drive down to the meeting point; the riders generally don’t aim to interfere with vehicular traffic. But Slow Roll, deliberately or not, does get in motorists’ way, and does little to help cyclists and drivers learn how to coexist safely. I know people who hate Slow Roll, and I worry that some of their annoyance extends even to cyclists who share their concerns about traffic disruptions.

I have no gripe with those want to don aerodynamic helmets, click their special shoes into their little pedals, and ride as fast as they can, I have no problem with those whose idea of a good ride is one that involves as little physical exertion as possible. (Though in my opinion, if you can smoke while doing it, it’s not exercise.) These parties on wheels may not be my kind of party, but that doesn’t mean I object to them. I won’t repine; I will decline.

Read more:  Metro Times

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