As we stand on the threshold of autumn (for whatever that is worth in Miami), and with it a new season of Bike Miami Days, I can’t help but be excited. What started as a one-day event back in November 2008 has exploded into a whole entity, now with seven all-day ciclovías under its belt, as well as a handful of rides to tie people over during the hot summer months. During that time the event has grown and attracted more and more sponsors, ranging from commercial endeavors to non-profit organizations, which has helped extend the experience from “just biking around” to (if you’ll permit me the grandiose language) a celebration of community.
I wrote the above about a week-and-a-half before current news on the possibility of there being no Bike Miami Days in the fall became available. I decided to leave it because it expresses how I feel about Bike Miami and why it is important enough to keep around. Perhaps we’ll get good news, Bike Miami Days will be back on the schedule, and the above will once again fully apply. As we ponder the future of Bike Miami Days, I’d like to talk about some things I would like to see in future events, features that I think will enhance the Bike Miami Days experience and help the general cycling community in Miami at the same time.
#1. Lights & Bells For Every Bicycle
Florida Bicycle Law requires every bike that rides at night to be equipped with both a front and a rear light.
Lighting (see Section 316.2065, F.S.)
A bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear.
I cannot count the number of bikes I’ve seen riding after sunset that have no lights at all; at most they have the reflector that came with the bike when they purchased it and that’s all. We need to educate all riders, especially the casual ones, that having lights on their bikes is the law. The ideal here would be to have a partnership with a bike shop or bike light manufacturer so that discounts and/or free samples can be given out.
Likewise, though Florida Bicycle Law does not require it, every bike should be equipped with a bell. Every bike. Even you, Lycra speedsters. Just like every car needs a horn to signal, so does every bike. A loud “excuse me” when the rider is already on top of pedestrians/other riders is not acceptable. Bells are de rigeur in countries with high bikeability because they are essential parts of the riding experience. I’d love to see a company donate a large number of bells that can be given out to Bike Miami participants (perhaps these can even be branded with Bike Miami stickers!).
#2. Bike & Ride Support from Miami-Dade Transit
Miami-Dade county’s public transit already has in place a good Bike & Ride program for bicycle commuters. I would love to see a kiosk with representatives educating people about this program, answering questions, processing and handing out Metrorail bike permits (currently these can only be obtained at the Government Center Metrorail station or by mail – why not online baffles me) and teaching people how to properly use the Metrobus bike racks (right). For a double-whammy, have folks there also from Tri-Rail (though maybe not, considering their bicycle policies seem a bit off-putting).
Frankly, this should have been instituted right from the second Bike Miami Day event! By the end of the inaugural Bike Miami in November I wanted a T-shirt and stickers with the Bike Miami logo (which actually changed from that very first one used to the current one). I wanted to show my support by wearing that shirt around, and I still very much do. I have a feeling of this being a case of Bike Miami team members being overwhelmed by their regular daily duties plus the event work to have time to get this done. Silk screening on T-shirts is fairly inexpensive, especially in bulk quantities, so Bike Miami shirts aren’t that unfeasible; sold at $25 or so, depending on how many were printed, these could pay for themselves fairly quick and bring in some extra revenue. (Click on the image for a larger version)
Aside from T-shirts, stickers are another great an inexpensive way to spread the news about the event. I would go with both bumper stickers and 2″-3″ round stickers right off the bat, as these are the most versatile sizes.
Other possible branded items include water bottles (to promote proper hydration while riding), bike bells (see how I tied points #1 and #3?) and cycling jerseys (I don’t particularly care for them, the time-trialists don’t ride without wearing these).
I, of course, am assuming that most Bike Miami fans are rabid about the event like me and would buy all these branded items.
#4. Support/Presence from Bike Companies
Though ultimately this is out of the Bike Miami team’s hands, I’d love to see bicycle manufacturers and other related bicycle companies sponsor and present at the events. Bicycling Magazine has already sponsored a Miami edition of BikeTown, so get them to return with a kiosk. Has anyone other than me noticed the high number of Electra bicycles present at Bike Miami Days (starting with our very own Willow)? Let’s call them and get them to come down. Same thing with Trek, Giant, Jamis, Schwinn and any other major manufacturer (if you want to really target it, start going through the photos and picking out bike brands). Be bold and call emerging/new to the area companies; brands that are starting out or entering a new market could benefit from the exposure. While at it, call Lazer Helmets and Bell (helmets & accessories) as well. You get the idea: if it’s a major bicycle article manufacturer, call them up and try to get them to sponsor and present at the show. Events like Bike Miami and the (hopeful) adoption of programs like Miami 21 make the city an emerging market in serious bicycling, and these companies have a chance to make an early and important impact on consumers.
Got thoughts on these ideas or further ones? Let me know in the comments.