Peace Peloton Expands to Tacoma and Gains National Prominence
Founded in Seattle to support the Black Lives Matter movement, the Peace Peloton rides co-created by Reginald “Doc” Wilson are expanding to Tacoma and other cities, gaining national media attention, and uniting people on bikes to support economic reform and racial justice for Black people.
The past several months have been a whirlwind of activity for Reginald "Doc" Wilson, founder of the Peace Peloton community bike rides to support economic reform for Black people.
Wilson has filed paperwork to create a 501c3 nonprofit, which would allow donors to make tax-deductible donations. In August he expanded the rides from Seattle to Tacoma, Wash., and he is now negotiating with bicycling and social justice advocates in London, New York City, Los Angeles and other cities to create more Peace Peloton rides. He worked with creatives to make an inspirational Peace Peloton video. He has trademarked Peace Peloton and is trying to raise $10,000 to support the organization’s growth and fund apprenticeships and internships at Black owned businesses. He has worked tirelessly to organize volunteers to support the rides.
All of this while maintaining his day job as a life coach.
Founded in early June, the Peace Peloton rides, which start and end at Black-owned businesses and feature speakers who talk about issues facing communities of color, have turned out thousands of people on bicycles to spend their money at restaurants and businesses owned by people of color.
The media has taken notice. Wilson was interviewed by Bicycling, the largest bicycle magazine in the world, and has been a guest on the influential Outspoken Cyclist Podcast and other bike podcasts. All in an effort to win more support for the movement and drive its growth.
For Wilson, who has worked tirelessly with a growing cadre of volunteer supporters, the expansion to Tacoma is the first step toward creating a national Peace Peloton movement.
“I want to do this right and expand in a manner that sustains so we don’t splinter and fizzle out,” says Wilson, who received a team racing bike donated by the EF Pro Cycling Team member Tejay van Garderen, a Tacoma native, to raise money for Peace Peloton.
Relying on a growing number of volunteers, Wilson is an active presence at the Peace Peloton rides, wielding a megaphone to organize and inspire the crowd, urging everyone to maintain social distance and wear masks. Participants are encouraged to bring cash to purchase pre-boxed food items from the Black-owned restaurants and stores--providing a direct cash infusion to businesses struggling during the pandemic.
The rides are inspirational, friendly and supportive of families and people of all cycling abilities, with some participants in spandex, others wearing costumes or street clothes or Major Taylor Project jerseys, and with bikes adorned with Peace Peloton and BLM signs.
During rides, which typically cover about 10 miles on routes that mostly follow neighborhood greenways and use streets with bike lanes, Wilson shouts encouragement and relies on volunteers who ride ahead to block side streets to allow the processions of 300 or more people on bikes to safely pass through intersections.
As a participant in multiple Peace Peloton rides, I have enjoyed the opportunity to engage with a diverse crowd of people on bikes.
At a Peace Peloton I attended in the rain in July, prominent Seattle-area health care expert and avid bicyclist John Vassall told a story about the worst bike crash of his life. It was a poignant anecdote that summed up the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how the cycling community can help.
As he lay in the road in pain, two bicyclists, complete strangers, carried Vassall, a Black man, to safety and helped him get to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a broken femur. Imagine if, Vassall told the crowd of several hundred people on bikes, the hospital doctors had dismissed his broken femur by saying that he has 205 other bones in his body, and that “all bones matter.”
Of course all bones are important, he said in a critique of those who try to delegitimize the BLM movement by saying that "all lives matter," but it's the femur that is broken and needs attention.
The message was clear: now is the time for white bicyclists to step up and focus on the community that is hurting, and help heal the pain.
Later, during the ride, I pedaled alongside Vassall and we spoke about his work as CEO of the Foundation for Health Care Quality, a Seattle nonprofit that tries to improve health care outcomes for patients and instill best practices in medicine--work that seems especially vital during the pandemic. Vassall rode on a titanium bike, which he joked matches the titanium rods in his femur.
Cascade fully supports the mission of Peace Peloton and is working with Wilson to help him raise awareness for the initiative. Multiple Cascade staffers and members have turned out to support the rides and spend money at Black-owned businesses. And Wilson will speak about Peace Peloton during the Washington Bike, Walk and Roll Summit organized by Cascade.
Prior to the start of a Peace Peloton ride in July, Wilson wielded a megaphone and led the crowd in a chant of “Roll, roll, roll, Peace Peloton!” before concluding his remarks with a message for everyone in attendance: Persevere.
“If I have anything to do with it,” he says, “this movement is going to have a long and significant lifetime.”
Listen to Wilson on the Outspoken Cyclist Podcast
Donate $50 or more to Peace Peloton receive a free piece of art.