How to organize a Slow Ride

Slow rides are an effective direct action that pushes for better policy. Slow rides are also important because they give people the chance to temporarily experience the kind of safe infrastructure we want and allows people to imagine a world where it’s permanent. Slow rides build community by bringing together people who want to share that joy and safety.

Step 1: Decide the theme/reason for the ride

A ride can be based on policy change or legislative action, like a pending decision or recent decision.

Examples include:

  • Slow ride to protest a recent political decision by the city government or transportation agency, e.g., SFMTA cutting Slow streets in the updated Slow streets program
  • Slow ride to champion safe streets before a vote by city government or transportation agency, e.g., to expand the Slow Streets program
  • Slow ride directed towards any recent or soon to be governmental action

A ride can alternatively promote general awareness or connect to an event, news story, etc. The ride should aim to push for better policy and for the city government or a transit agency to take a specific action.

Examples include:

  • Slow ride for ending vehicular violence and installing protected bike lanes on a particular street, e.g., Valencia
  • Slow ride as a response to recent vehicular violence/death, promoting better infrastructure on a particular street

Ensure there is a clear and actionable action tied to and promoted by the ride.

If your slow ride is not outwardly promoting an action for policy change, you can emphasize to your audience the benefits of joining one, like experiencing safe infrastructure and safety in numbers, camaraderie or community.

Step 2: Pick a date and time

Choose a date for the slow ride that is far enough in advance to give you some time to promote it. Aim for 2 weeks in advance, unless something has suddenly happened and you want to respond quickly. Slow rides can be done on shorter notice.

If you’d like, you can gauge when the most people are available via a poll (e.g., Google Forms) but no need to rely on this.

Step 3: Plan the route

Choose a route of streets beginning to end. The route doesn’t need to be finished. Think about start and endpoints and a general direction. You can adjust the route during the ride as needed to accommodate current circumstances or safety needs

Reusing old slow ride streets and even whole routes is great! SF has natural bike routes that minimize hills and are great candidates for slow rides. But also feel free to do rides all around the city; everyone deserves a slow ride in their neighborhood.

Do a test ride to ensure viability of the route and learn what you want to adjust. Do it alone or take people with you.

If the ride is long enough, ensure the ride has a stop or two so people can recuperate/restroom/get food.

Be mindful of all biking abilities and plan accordingly (e.g., reducing number of steep inclines in a row).

Step 4: Get enough people to show up

We keep us safe, and numbers are our best defense, so promote the ride early and often to get turnout.

Utilize social media channels and do outreach to allied groups or people. Fliers can also be very effective. You can tape them up along popular bike routes. You can even hand them out at bike gatherings or commute times on popular bike routes.

Step 5: Convene and ensure safety

Make sure there is a leader, a couple sweeps, and enough corkers.

It helps to speak to the group before taking off for a ride to remind us of the reason we are riding, what/who we need to ensure safety, the need to go slow and where the next stop will be.