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Slow Roll begins new season through Buffalo's Fruit Belt

Thomas O'Neil-White

Hundreds of bicyclists took part in the first Slow Roll of the season Monday.

GObike Community Organizer Seamus Gallivan said Buffalo's Slow Roll is the largest chapter outside Detroit, where it was founded.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News
Seamus Gallivan (left) gets ready to get on his bike and ride.

"The primary purpose of Slow Roll getting outside of our bubbles and connecting as a community," said Gallivan. "Our communities have been divided in many ways: segregation, redlining, urban sprawl and now modern technology keeps us even further apart. So by getting all our bikes together in a free and inclusive way that welcomes everyone, people start to have conversations that they've never had, go places they've never been and, really, it's important to get out an activate all your senses and really experience your community."

Gallivan said one of the most fun parts about Slow Roll is that every week's ride of the 26-week season is different. He said that includes 10 new host venues this season.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News
Anthony Caferro is founder of Slow Roll Buffalo.

Monday's inagural ride started at Hostel Buffalo-Niagara. Slow Roll Founder and Hostel Buffalo-Niagara president Anthony Caferro said biking and the hostel go hand in hand.

"Bikes are budget travel. Hostels are budget travel. It's one of those things that naturally co-exist," caferro said. "We brought the Slow Roll here this year because we're trying to highlight the hostel as a cultural asset. Right now, we're trying to buy this building from the city. We sold it to them back in the '90s and we're trying to buy it back now to try to re-invigorate this 600 block of Main."

In standard Slow Roll fashion, the ride traveled 10 miles at a leisurely pace of around 10 miles per hour, guided by more than 100 Slow Roll Squad volunteers and a Buffalo Police Department motorcade.  It included stops in Buffalo's Fruit Belt and Kingsley neighborhoods.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News
Riders fuel up before they roll.

It was the third year for Veronica Bell. She was working "Squad": volunteers who help guide the ride, provide information about neighborhoods and encourage riders. Bell said some people get caught up on the miles of each ride, but she said not to worry because "it's a slow roll."

"I never would ride bikes, so for me, when I saw the Slow Rollers in the neighborhood, it encouraged me. It encouraged me to ride," said Bell, "and it gives you a chance to meet and become part of what's going down in Buffalo and there's so many people from so many walks of life."

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News
Each Slow Roll is guided by 100 Squad volunteers, at the front, middle and back of riders.