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Slow Roll Chicago Expands Bike Tours to Englewood

 Team Work Englewood rode with Slow Roll Chicago in the Englewood back-to-school parade on Saturday.
Team Work Englewood rode with Slow Roll Chicago in the Englewood back-to-school parade on Saturday.
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DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

ENGLEWOOD — A community based group that organizes bicycle tours through neighborhoods has added Englewood to its list.

Founders Jamal Julien and Olatunji Oboi Reed, who launched Slow Roll Chicago in September, had their first Englewood bike ride on Wednesday. Organizers said about 75 people from Englewood and surrounding neighborhoods came out.

The next ride is happening Sept. 2. The founders want the rides to bring the community together and also expose them to the architecture of the neighborhoods. They say that it can help with mental and physical health, too.

They’re also trying to break the myth that African-Americans don’t ride bikes.

“I’m in the community all the time and I’m in various areas,” Julien said. “I see a lot of people on bikes. They may not use them in the same way they do on the North Side, they’re not commuting to the local store or restaurant because we don’t have them. It’s about proximity.”

Reed, a Chatham native, said that blacks aren’t riding as much as other groups, but it’s not because they don’t want to.

“It’s true that people of color, especially black people in Chicago, ride at a lower rate than white people,” he said. “It’s also true that low- to moderate-income people ride at a lower rate than middle- to upper-income.

"However, one of the reasons blacks ride at a lower rate is because our neighborhoods don’t have the same bike-ability as other neighborhoods throughout the city.”

Some of the things he said are lacking are protected bike lanes, bike racks and retail destinations. Divvy recently added bike stations in Englewood, which Reed said is helping, but more can be done.

Slow Roll Chicago participated in the 53rd annual Englewood Back-School-Parade on Saturday. Groups like Teamwork Englewood were also present.

Jonathan Carthon, a Bronzeville resident who attended on Saturday, said he enjoys riding with Slow Roll.

“Riding through the neighborhood is great exercise, but really it’s just seeing the community,” he said, adding that it’s good for people to see that blacks do ride bikes.

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