Slow Roll Buffalo, bike couriers doing whatever they can to help during COVID-19

Mar 31, 2020

Slow Roll Buffalo is adapting its mission of connecting the community through bikes to work around COVID-19. They are connecting bike couriers to help make important deliveries and are sharing safe, socially distant bike routes for those looking to ride safely. WBFO’s Nick Lippa joined Slow Roll Community Organizer Seamus Gallivan on a delivery route, as he’s been checking in with community members along the way to see how they are doing. 

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

Slow Roll larger community rides usually begin around the start of May. Instead of postponing that start this year, Gallivan said they are starting their season early with guidelines for safe, social distance rides. 

“I encourage you to use passive use of public spaces at a safe social distance of at least six feet for people to take a little bike ride, and really, again, maintain that mental and physical health. Just so important right now,” Gallivan said. 

The Buffalo News’ Max Kalnitz gave an in depth look at some of the routes which you can find here.

But Slow Roll and their members are looking to take it a step further. Looking to help the community any way they can. 

Gallivan has started a Slow Roll YouTube channel, where he’s stopping on his bike rides to talk to community members and business owners on how they are operating during the quarantine. 

Last Friday he stopped by Food Buffalo on Massechusetts Avenue, a pantry that offers healthy options for communities with high populations of low-income Muslim refugees and African Americans.

“Give me a quick intro, what you’re representing, what you are doing, why and how people can support,” Gallivan instructed holding an iPhone with a lavalier microphone from six feet away.

“Okay, peace in love. This is Drea D’Nur. I am the founder of Feed Buffalo,” D’Nur went on to explain.


Gallivan spoke with D’Nur about what food pantries like hers, Feed Buffalo, are doing to help during these trying times.


“We've been able to meet like emergency needs for people. So that's been great,” D’Nur said. “I haven't really had like in the actual family come here. We've had ironically like almost all bike messengers come and then I've done a couple of deliveries myself. So it's been great just to know that we're helping people and that we're able to give people healthy food like that is our mission.”


The bike messengers she speaks about are major helpers during this time. 

Gallivan said Slow Roll is helping bike messenger business Queen City Couriers get off the ground. After D’Nur, he headed off to finish a delivery.

“Queen City Couriers was preparing to launch as a business now it is launching as volunteer food delivery,” Gallivan said. “So helping out with them, got some groceries back that had been picked up from Feed Buffalo, another new nonprofit we are working with, Push Buffalo to identify those in need some food systems helpers, like Seeding Resilience, or looking at things on a system wide basis to address not only the needs of the moment, but how can we provide food equitably throughout our community on any given day.”

Before Gallivan left Food Buffalo, he made a video diary giving an update on what exactly he’s doing at Massachusetts Avenue Park. 

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

“This is a great public park for the Westside here. We're gonna ride up. Since this delivery is up in Black Rock, we'll take a ride up to the south lawn of Richardson Olmstead campus, another big open space where you can get some fresh air at a safe social distance (editor's note-- a very bumpy one I may add),” Gallivan said. “So we'll take that right up Baynes Street, which is a great side street, newly paved, and is pretty wide and a not as much used great street to ride north to south for bikes. It goes from Forest in the north, to Ferry at the south, pretty much the trip here, and then we'll continue on to Black Rock to deliver food. Appreciate those of you who are helping in any way you can.” 

As Gallivan got back on the path to complete a delivery, he was quickly spotted by a friendly face and a Slow Roll volunteer named Stephanie Cole Adams, out for a walk with her daughter, happy to see him riding. 

"Hey Cole!" Gallivan shouted.

“Hi Seamus!” Cole said.

“How are you doing?” asked Gallivan.

“We’re good. Say hi to Seamus,” Cole told her daughter.

“Keep socially distant!” she exclaimed from about 15 yards away. 

“You stay over here and I’ll stay over here,” Gallivan said with a smile. 

When Gallivan finished his delivery on Buffalo’s West Side, he was greeted from the bottom of a poarch with several thanks. 

“Delivery went great. Recipient was really grateful,” Gallivan said. “And Queen City couriers got in 25 deliveries today. We're ramping up the amount of bike couriers, we have to fulfill the need. We expect that to keep going.”

Gallivan mentioned the importance of the formation of Seeding Resilience, a leadership team of food facilitators throughout Western New York, with individuals also contributing from as far as New York City and Chicago. Seeding Resilience started having weekly phone calls recently with around 40 people coming together to discuss how to improve the efficiency of food networking, among other things. 

Seeding Resilience facilitator and Food for the Spirit co-founder Rebekah Williams said having additional methods of healthy food transport during these times is crucial.

“Being able to work together with the bicycle carriers to support Feed Buffalo in getting that healthy fresh food to neighborhood residents is great,” Williams said. “What we were trying to do is help anybody in the community tap in and support each other at this time.” 

It’s all about collaboration. Queen City Couriers, Feeding Resiliency, and countless others. One of Gallivan’s many goals is to keep finding safe ways to bring people together-- now and after whenever the quarantine ends. 

“Our mission transcends bikes and single bike rides. It's all about connecting communities,” Gallivan said. “So we have people posting about their social distance rides in our public Facebook group. And we're fortunate that that's a group that is made to be a community built bulletin board, so that anyone can post about anything relevant to bikes and buffalo. So people are posting about the rides, they're posting how they're helping. We're connecting people who need help.”

Slow Roll, like the Buffalo groups they work with, continue to find new ways to evolve. 

You can learn more and contact Slow Roll on their website.