Jason only left Detroit for a brief moment to take a necessary job in Miami, and already his heart called him back to his hometown. He came back just one year later. It was 2007, and when he came back something had changed.
“Everyone I knew in my circle of friends was riding their bike everywhere,” he said. “So I started to join them.”
Jason’s friends began to ride the city together regularly on just two wheels. Soon they opened it up for anyone to join them on their regular bike rides.
"We started to feel the positive energy and change. We wanted to start an event to share this energy with others."
Jason and his partner Mike both come from background in promotions. It wasn’t hard for them to spread the word about Detroit’s regular bike ride. The regular ride soon grew to hundreds, now up to thousands in the city of Detroit coming together to explore the city.
Whether it’s biking the Grand Prix track or spotlighting @FocusHope, Slow Roll shows others a side of Detroit they haven’t experienced yet. #RebrandDetroit
“Detroit is better on a bike,” he said. “In a car you’re shut out. You’re moving too fast. In a bike you are forced to see and deal with the environment around you. It keeps you grounded.”
Jason’s love for biking grew out of skateboarding. In his teens and all through college he’d skateboard with friends. He got used to moving around on two wheels. As he got older, biking felt like a natural progression that was easier on the body.
He knew Detroit was better on a bike, and it didn’t take long to show others this experience too. The first bike ride was about 40 people. Then, it grew to a couple hundred regular riders and new riders always arriving together for their weekly Slow Roll. Soon, to over a thousand.
“We’d hear from people not around us how cool it was. We knew it could be something special,” he said. “But you could never tell me we’d hit a thousand people. I never expected that.”
Jason said what’s even more special to him is that they’ve sparked a movement and a culture change that gets people excited about biking in their city. He’d hear stories of people who had bikes sitting in garages for five or ten year, who’d come out again to bike on a Slow Roll ride. That the bikers are all different ages and backgrounds, uniting Detroiters together.
Jason takes these bikers down through different neighborhoods and sites in the city, including the Grand Prix track. Every week the route changes and every week a charity or new business get’s exposure. Just last week they were spotlighting Focus Hope. Before that, they made a trip to Midtown. Small businesses benefit greatly from the exposure and are always happy to host a slow roll kickoff from their place.
From Local to National Rolls
Now that Slow Roll has taken off in Detroit, Jason’s goals are to inspire Slow Roll rides in other cities across the country.
“We have a team. A squad and a volunteer core. They are really the heart behind this, not just me,” he said. “We’re always grateful for support from police and fire departments too. We can’t make it happen without them.”
Now, he’s getting the team to think bigger on a national business model that inspires community bike rides anywhere and everywhere. What will slow rolls in other cities look like? We can’t wait to find out. We’ll have to take our two wheels to the ground and pedal with Jason as he rides further, bringing the spirit and movement of slow roll from the Motor City.