Demonstrators use Broad Street’s protected bike lanes to support local business and celebrate protected cycling. (Photo: Matt Pulford)

Approximately 50 cyclists joined Bikes Mean Business for the Broad Street Slow Ride early Tuesday evening to demonstrate the lucrative aspect of the new bike lanes for local shops and restaurants. 

The ride lasted about an hour, and event organizers encouraged participants ahead of time to bring their wallets so they could prop a kickstand and stop to support local businesses on Broad Street.

Demonstrators stopped at several stores along the way.

Chris Lykins, one of the organizers, maintained that the new bike lanes will ultimately benefit the businesses they run beside. The Slow Ride was to exhibit just that, he said.

River City Co. hosts a bike decoration station. (Photo: Matt Pulford)

“We wanted to say these [bike lanes] are positive, and we wanted to go to the businesses on this road to support them in a way where we’re putting our money where our mouths are,” Lykins said.

He said local enterprise should, in time, begin to realize the benefits these bike-only paths offer.

“I hope the attitudes of businesses get to a point where they realize that these are good for them and [that they] invite a different level of customer maybe they haven’t seen in the past,” he said. 

While Lykins acknowledged that some are not fond of the protected lanes, he said he hoped events like the Slow Ride would begin to challenge negative perceptions. 

“Change is never quick,” Lykins said. “So it’s not this one bike ride that is going to change the attitude of [everybody]. I think it’s a ‘slow ride.’ Change is slow-sometimes we’re resistant and sometimes we jump right on board.”

Lykins said he hopes to see a change in biking advocates’ attitudes, too. For more acceptance, cyclists must use the protected lanes more frequently and become “friendly and positive,” he said.

Lucky Ramsey, director of development at Pathfinder Films and one of the Slow Ride organizers, said the idea of a slow, purposeful pedaling came in response to negative comments on various news sites.

Slow Ride participant Summer Bock shows support for the new bike lanes. (Photo: Matt Pulford)

“We kept reading newspaper articles and then the comment section on the articles, and it just bummed me out that the people who felt safe and were happy to have this [seemed like] a minority voice, when in fact we’re kind of huge,” Ramsey said.

Lykins and Ramsey both said they ride their bikes to work regularly. 

Other daily bike commuters, such as Summer Bock, also came out for the demonstration.

Bock, an herbalist, said she is “obsessed” with riding her bike. She said the protection these lanes offer cyclists is important to her. 

“I am just really appreciative to the dedication of making it safe for people to ride their bikes,” Bock said. “I ride for exercise, and I ride to commute. And I will say the hardest part about it is that I fear for my life more than 50 percent of the time when I’m out riding [downtown].”

Bock said she wants more protected bike lanes downtown. Ramsey, too, said she cannot wait for more bike lanes to come, especially on Martin Luther King Boulevard. 

Event organizers said this was the first of many “slow rides” to take place. 

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