Mar 1, 2024 - News

How the Broad Street Bullies took over Richmond

A picture of dozens of people on bikes riding on the street with the ICA building behind them.

The Broad Street Bullies on a ride out. Photo: Courtesy of MYLO Video Productions

Some residents see them as reckless, disruptive and living up to the "bullies" in their name.

  • They block intersections, keep drivers held up at streetlights and back up traffic.
  • Multiple RVA Reddit posts are dedicated to them, including one titled "F— the Broad Street Bullies" with nearly 600 mostly negative comments.

Why it matters: The Broad Street Bullies are impossible to ignore — and that's the point.

The big picture: Their 300-person Thursday bike rides are a direct response to the lack of safety many cyclists feel riding alone in Richmond, which isn't known for being the most bike-friendly city.

  • There have been at least 40 reported crashes involving cyclists in Richmond in 2023 and 2024, per an Axios analysis of data mapped by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Zach Bazemore, a co-founder of the Bullies known as "Salad," tells Axios he's been hit by a driver and had friends killed.

So if taking over Richmond's roads gets people talking about the city's bike infrastructure — and helps riders feel safer cycling through the city — then they're happy "being the unlikeable group," says Amin Hazim, another co-founder who films the rides.

A picture of a man doing a wheelie on a bike down the street.
Salad from the Broad Street Bullies doing a wheelie. Photo: Courtesy of MYLO Video Productions

State of play: Since starting in 2019, the Bullies have evolved to being bike marshals in the 2020 protests and a source of support through a pandemic that isolated people's daily lives.

  • They're most known for their ride outs starting at the Carytown Kroger and ending at the Oregon Hill overlook.
  • But they also do yearly toy drives for Richmond Public Schools and have helped open a space called "The Garage," which brings in local artists and producers.
  • Then in February, they hosted their first art exhibit at Gallery5. The promo for it has nearly 41,000 views.
  • Now they're a community of hundreds that includes mostly people of color and even some kids.

Zoom in: The name is an homage to the Philadelphia Flyers, whose aggressive playing style earned them the name "Broad Street Bullies."

  • Richmond's version is known for popping wheelies on fixed-gear bikes, which have no brakes.
  • Many of them have distinctive bikes built and fixed up at ReCycles Bicycle Shop, which manager Abe Mubarak tells Axios has led to more people seeking the shop out in recent years.

The bottom line: They're not going away anytime soon. And if Salad's dream comes true, Richmonders might soon see the Broad Street Bullies name tied to a specialty drink or stamped on a burger, too.

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