Slow Roll Twin Cities

What is that building? Who is the street named after? What does that art work mean?  

I like exploring neighborhoods by bike and lucky for me Slow Roll has expanded into the Twin Cities this year.

Started in Detroit a few years ago, Slow Roll Detroit regularly sees 3,000+ people come out to ride on Monday nights during the summer season. It has now expanded across the US and into Europe. Take a peek at the Apple iPad commercial featuring Jason Hall and Slow Roll Detroit




Slow Roll Twin Cities

Slow Rolls are more than just bike rides. I can’t say it better than Slow Roll Twin Cities‘ own description:

Slow Roll Twin Cities is a project of the Cultural Wellness Center and supported by the collaborative effort of the Twin Cities Bicycle Advocacy community. Slow Roll aims to challenge negative perceptions of the city and foster economic revitalization, community peace through social bike rides that connect residents to their communities.


My post iPhriday – Another Perspective  shows some of the beautiful skyline views from the rides on the “bad side of town”. Each person experiences a city within the context of their own culture and I find learning about various cultures is a more personal way to explore a community.



Minneapolis has an amazing amount of parkland and a new 3 mile section of Greenway is slated to be developed in North Minneapolis. Last week’s ride was co-hosted by the Northside Greenway Council as one of many events to gather feedback on the new Greenway. Different outreach efforts are needed to bring people to the table that have been excluded in the past.

Anytime changes are made to parking there will be a few vocal opponents. The families with children tend not to show up in support of slower and fewer cars on their neighborhood streets – they don’t have time to attend traditional ‘community outreach’ meetings held in city offices.

We rode through the demonstration section of the Northside Greenway on Irving Ave North. Kids had a basketball hoop set up and many were riding their bikes through the closure area. The Greenway is planned to convert some street pavement to parkland which means some neighbors will need to use their alley and garage space or park on the other side of the street. The year-long demonstration project is also a learning opportunity for city planners to listen to the residents and adapt the designs to local preferences.

The Mississippi River continues to play a major role in the life of both Minneapolis and St. Paul. With the National Park here, I’ve seen a good portion of the river between the two downtowns. Part of our route last week cruised the river road on the northside of Minneapolis and looped back to the neighborhood park which was our starting location via bike lanes.

How awesome is that? Ride your bike to the National Park that is literally in your  backyard from the parkland that is in your front yard.



Part of the mission of Slow Roll is to be inclusive of all people and part of the exploration is to hear the stories and see the places important to underrepresented groups. This week’s ride is co-hosted by Little Earth of United Tribes. It’s embarrassing to say that I know very little about the Native community here so I’m hoping to learn more about my neighbors tonight. Little Earth of United Tribes is a non-profit organization centered around a housing development that serves a range of needs for the Native community but because it represents people of multiple tribes and is not reservation-based, the non-profit is not eligible for most of the federal grant programs targeted to serve Native communities. Without some understanding of Native culture, it is impossible for local communities to support appropriate health and economic initiatives in addition to building strong community-based non-profit organizations.

I think it’s important to understand the issues people face and the aspirations they have when we go to the polls and vote on policies, bond issues and representatives. For example, I have worked with Safe Routes to School in the past. I don’t have kids but I will support quality education for kids in all neighborhoods which should include safely getting to school. In Austin, each school had different problems ranging from lack of sidewalks to speeding drivers to gang activity which required a mix of solutions catered to the school. Without knowing some of the details a blanket solution of simply building sidewalks wouldn’t help get more kids walking and biking to school.

Minneapolis is my hometown but I’ve been away for over 25 years. I’m finding it to be a very different place then it was back then. And a very different place from what I thought it was.


I don’t mean to make the rides sound so politically focused that they are grim. The rides are a festival on wheels for the whole family. A festival that explores and celebrates hometown treasures. Roll on!


Anyone else been on a Slow Roll?