Yesterday was the third edition of Bike Miami and I think it was the best one to date. Yes, the first one was really popular, but it had the newness of it to draw people, and the second one had to contend with the holidays for attendance, though even with that it was a cool event. This one, though, this Bike Miami, proved beyond a doubt that the institution is here to stay and that people are now going to expect it and reply in kind.
This Bike Miami featured a slightly different route than previous ones: Bayfront Park was not included due to an event there the night before, but the Flagler St. corridor was extended all the way to the Miami Riverfront and to Lummus Landing, an area I simply had no idea was back there (the southbound corridor ending at Mary Brickell Village remained the same). Road signs and water stations made a welcomed comeback, and the support of the Downtown Miami merchants was palpable and evident, energizing the streets and the riders in turn.
There was a steady stream of bikers throughout the length of the route during all hours of the event, even way into its final few minutes. Attendants included everything from families with multiple children, to casual/slow bikers, and lycra-clad cycling packs, everyone enjoying themselves, everyone showing their support for a more bicycle-friendly city of Miami.
As usual by now, we rode our bikes to Downtown, leaving the Beach at around 11:00 AM. The ride through the North Beach area was actually pretty uneventful this time around, thankfully. The one thing I did observe was the significant number of people riding their bikes around this area of the Beach, just going about their business. It was a very welcomed sight; it made me feel like a part of something greater, a movement that is slowly expanding, growing every single day.
Knowing we’d have to face the dreaded Dade Blvd, I decided every bit of it we could skip was a welcomed respite, so we went from Prairie Dr. to N Meridian Ave, which borders the edge of the Miami Beach Golf Club and saved us a whole block of Dade Blvd. Once on Dade, we rode on the sidewalk until we could cross Alton Rd and join the Venetian Cswy. bike lane.
Upon entering the Venetian Isles area (a very ethereal boundary that, to me, is signalled by the sudden appereance of the bike lane at Dade Blvd and N Bay Rd. (see map), even though this is still mainland Miami Beach), we were very pleasantly surprised to see a Bike Miami info kiosk and water station at the corner of Gibb Park. The folks there were talking to as many of the cyclists (and pedestrians) riding up and down the causeway as they could, giving out flyers for the event and brochures on cycling education, asking riders as they passed by, “Are you headed to Bike Miami?” I keep up with all the info coming out of the Mayor’s office on this event, and I had no idea this kiosk would be here. Whoever thought of it and put it into action, thank you, it was a great idea; I hope it had the desired effect. Frankly, I’d love to see more support for Bike Miami like this from the neighboring cities.
Our time riding around Downtown was just great. The route extension into Lummus Landing was a welcomed addition and frankly, a perfect example of what this sort of event can achieve, exposing participants to an area of the city many did not know about, myself included (I mean, we had a Public Fish Market by the river? Really? Why is it closed!). It’s too bad Ft. Dallas was closed for renovations, but it was cool just learning that it was there. We also saw the Scottish Rite temple (we have Masons in Miami?!) and the City of Miami Mounted Police stables, having a chance to pet the horses. There was a rally at Lummus Landing at 10:30 AM that we missed (we’re gonna have to leave the Beach really early to able to make it on time for one of these) and other events there and at Mary Brickell Village. There were also sponsors at Lummus Landing, including the now-ubiquitous Florida Bicycle Association, and stores like Mack Cycles, showing off the new Electra Townie Holiday bike that has me salivating.
We managed to see various of the friends we’ve been making over the past Bike Miami events and everyone was excited about the turnout for this one. The weather was once again gorgeous; we are getting spoiled, we know, but we’re going to enjoy it while it lasts. I mean, this was the weather on Sunday!
We decided to head back relatively early so we would not get caught riding in the dark. Heading down Venetian Cswy with a bunch other riders was a neat experience, actually. We decided to stop at Publix on Bay Rd. and 20th Street, and after that, deciding we really did not want to take Dade Blvd. again we vacilated with using Alton Rd, since it has a bike lane (another one of those that simply pops up out on nothingness), but instead we decided to use a backroad suggested by Neil from Urban Bike – South Florida, take N Bay Rd. And that we did, taking it from 20th Street all the way down to Chase Ave. That saved us from Dade Blvd completely, and Chase drops you at 41st Street in no time, from where we can catch our established route. We’re definitely going to be using N Bay Rd from now on to head Downtown. And a bonus, we got to see a starfruit tree!
We made it home while still daylight (for a change) and chilled out for the rest of the evening. We had a fantastic day of bike riding, and many thanks go out again to all the volunteers who work so hard to make Bike Miami such an awesome event.
You can check out the photos in the slideshow below or at Flickr: Bike Miami 3 – 01/18/09.
I also wrote a report for Miami Metblogs which you can read here: