Bicycle Connectors: Cultural Wellness Center, Slow Roll Minneapolis

In 2018 Our Streets Minneapolis launched the Bicycle Connectors program, a new initiative to encourage more black women, indigenous women, and women of color to bike for transportation. Cindy Vue, our Bicycle Encouragement and Volunteer Coordinator, partnered with six local organizations serving black women, indigenous women, and women of color in Minneapolis.

Each organization received support from Our Streets Minneapolis to create their own unique program to encourage more of the women they serve to bike for transportation. Funding for the Bicycle Connectors program is provided through travel demand management funds awarded by the Metropolitan Council and administered by Metro Transit.

One organization we partnered with was the Cultural Wellness Center.

Folks on a Slow Roll ride in Minneapolis

The Cultural Wellness Center partners with organizations, institutions, and people within communities to develop problem solving models that create lasting solutions. Slow Roll Minneapolis, an initiative of the Cultural Wellness Center, is a local bike ride made for regular people to discover their neighborhoods. Slow Roll Minneapolis is modeled after and collaborates with the Slow Roll movement founded in Detroit in 2010.  

With support from the Bicycle Connectors initiative, Slow Roll Minneapolis built on their two years of experience encouraging folks to bike by creating a judgement free ride using the bike as a vehicle for community reclamation.

“The Cultural Wellness Center definition of health says that community connections are the ultimate measure of, and have the greatest impact on, personal health and well-being,” said Anthony Taylor, a Slow Roll Minneapolis leader. “Slow Roll connected people in real ways and broke the isolation that is the result of historical imbalances and under-development of people and communities.”

Slow Roll riders at the Upper Harbor Terminal site in North Minneapolis

One central part of Slow Roll is the Squad Leaders, a crew of riders who lead the ride. In Minneapolis, the Squad Leaders are built with a focus on youth and women. Each Squad Leader receives weeks of training to become confident ride leaders and advocates. In 2018 Slow Roll recruited 20 new Squad members and supported each with a new bike, gear, and a $40 per week stipend.

New in 2018 Slow Roll added an earn-a-bike program for adults. The group recruited 20 women interested in gaining skills to bike for transportation as part of their earn-a-bike program. Each participant received a bike, bike basics training, and was partnered with a bike mentor who helped them grow as riders.

Thank you to Slow Roll Minneapolis, and all of the partners and riders who were part of Bicycle Connectors 2018! Are you interested in partnering with Our Streets Minneapolis in the second year of the Bicycle Connectors initiative? Contact Cindy at [email protected].

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