About a month ago I got a new Schwinn Legacy cruiser bike as part of a goal to do more incidental excercise and lower the use of the car.
My wife also got a new bike, an Electra Amsterdam Ladies Classic 3 with a Tulip motif. We picked it up from the store last Thursday, but between work and the rains (aftereffects of Tropical Storm Fay) she hadn’t had a chance to take it out for a ride.
Today we needed to go to Target (about 7 miles away) to buy some more bike-related stuff, so we decided to take the trek on our bikes. It was a very nice experience. The sun was hot and there was some humidity in the air (normal for Florida summers) but we took it easy and leisurely, enjoying the ride itself, getting to see parts of Miami Beach we had never seen in the 5 years we’ve lived here. We also had to get used to our bikes, and that will take a bit longer, though we were both pleasantly surprised to find we are not in such bad shape as we feared we were.
See the highlighted route we took on this Sunday Afternoon Bike Ride.
We actually followed the very same route to the store and back, netting us a total of just about 14.5 miles on this trip.
The entire excursion took some four hours, between getting there, spending some time at the store and returning. At the store we picked up a new bike lock for my wife’s bike, a back rack for my bike, as well as some clothes for excercising and a new pair of Converse hi-tops for me (yes!).
As enjoyable as it was, we discovered (or confirmed, as these were not unknown to us) a few things about Miami’s general unfriendliness towards bikers. Miami Beach has got to be one the best places for biking, given how small the island is and how many backstreets there are in order to avoid the very trafficked main arteries. Even so, to say that sidewalks are friendly to walkers, let alone to bikers, would be a gross lie; and that’s when there are sidewalks, which is not everywhere. Most of the time you have to share the road with cars (because of course there are no bike lanes) and Miami drivers seem to regard a rider in a bikecycle as someone under the effects of an invisibility spell: they just don’t see you; at most, they notice you when they are about one foot away from you. And that goes for most pedestrians as well. We even have bells on our bikes to signal we’re coming through. Most people just stared at us dumbly, very much with a deer-caught-in-headlights look.
These are just things we’ll have to get used to as we bike more and more around here. The act of going out riding, however, is worth the hassle, and save for a few steep bridges here and there, the fact that Miami is as flat as a pancake makes biking a very easy activity. I’ll keep posting as we do more and more with our bikes, hopefully turning them from recreational vehicles to part-time modes of transportation.