Slow Roll co-founder Jason Hall starts new, more intimate cycling venture

For over seven years, Slow Roll has been an extremely popular way for people of all stripes to see Detroit by bike. The tour, which can attract up to thousands of cyclists, rides through a different neighborhood every week during the spring and summer. 

One of its founders, Jason Hall, is certainly proud of the legacy of Slow Roll. But now he's decided to, well, slow down.

Earlier this year, Hall left Slow Roll to embark on a new cycling venture, RiDetroit, which came from a desire to give people a more intimate experience of the city. "For me, riding became more about creating a personal connection," Hall says. "Not just riding in a circle, but the total experience, seeing things and having conversations."

Instead of 5,000-people rides, Hall says no RiDetroit tour will exceed 250 people. It also won't stick to a weekly model, instead doing rides when appropriate and offering small, private tours. There's also the opportunity to do curated rides that incorporate conversations with residents. 

Hall's beliefs about biking and equity have been slowly evolving over the last few years. While traveling, he saw how different cities incorporate bike infrastructure and the possibilities it can bring to low-income Detroiters. 

"The question is how do we get people of color on bikes, who feel disenfranchised from lanes that are changing their environment," Hall says. "They often don't understand that it's not just for everyone else."

The more intimate biking experience, then, goes both ways: riders get a chance to experience a new part of the city, and residents get to see bikes in action and what it might offer them.

"I'm hoping to change the narrative in everyone's minds about what equity is."

RiDetroit kicked off in July with a tour for the TedxDetroit staff. Monthly tours are planned for August, September, and October.
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Aaron Mondry is a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.