Olatunji Oboi Reed
The journey for me started about ten years ago, born out of a personal crisis.
I started riding a bicycle consistently as an adult around 2005. I was 30 years old and struggling with severe clinical depression. During this time, I was experiencing a level of emotional pain so intense, an escape route was the only thing I could think about. One day, as I sat on my couch on the Southside of Chicago, crying in the dark, I summoned the will to explore an alternative to taking my own life. I felt my final option was to try bicycling as a healthy escape from my pain.
Some days later, I found myself on Chicago’s lakefront trail at 63rd street beach on a beautiful summer morning. I mounted the bike, took a deep breath, and started to ride. What started as a simple bike ride soon set into motion my most transformative journey. It was in this moment that I became a cyclist and everything inside of me changed.
Biking was becoming an effective tool in my toolkit to address my depression. I know unequivocally that cycling has significantly improved both my mental and physical health. And, I am alive today, in part, as a result of that bicycle ride on Chicago’s lakefront trail over a decade ago. This knowledge fuels my current efforts to bring the many benefits of cycling to others in our communities.
Jamal Julien and I co-founded the Slow Roll Chicago bicycle movement in September of 2014. We ride bikes to make our neighborhoods better. This is why we exist and this is why we ride. Slow Roll Chicago’s mission is to connect a diverse group of people to utilize bikes and the activity of cycling as vehicles for social change, transforming lives and improving the condition of our communities, by organizing community bicycle rides. Our vision is equal bicycle usage across the City of Chicago with respect to race, income, and geography.
May the journey continue, let’s ride!
Olatunji Oboi Reed is the President and Co-Founder of Slow Roll Chicago.