The Miami Book Fair International is coming to Downtown Miami on November 8-15 (street fair Nov. 13-15), and as always, we are planning to visit. Last year we jumped on our bikes and rode all the way Downtown, just as we had done already for Bike Miami Days a week prior, and precisely what we’re planning to do this year as well. It’s an easy, hour-and-a-half ride, from Miami Beach North and usually (hopefully) by this time the weather is just perfect for bike riding. Now that we have the basket on Willow and the panniers on Amsterdam, we’ll be able to shop with impunity and know we can bring our loot back home comfortably.
Discussing our plans for that weekend, we started thinking that it would be a fantastic idea if the City of Miami got together with the Miami Book Fair and created a campaign urging people to go by bike. By last year’s fair there had only been one Bike Miami Days event, but it’s a year later; the City has nine Bike Miami Days and four or five Bike Miami Rides under its belt, not to mention an approved Bicycle Master Plan and a general wave of pro-bike sentiment in City Hall. A plan to urge people to bicycle to major events Downtown would seem like an obvious extension of the same idea. Yet nothing has been done.
There is a problem of timing. The Miami Book Fair happens barely a week after City of Miami elections and based on what results we get, we’re definitely going to be seeing a new Mayor and potentially a whole new Commission. Only Commissioner Sarnoff is sure to be there after Nov. 3, and while Commissioner Joe Sanchez has a shot at winning the race for Mayor, if he doesn’t, he’s out completely. With that much political uncertainty it’s easy to see how this campaign would simply not have been a priority by any stretch of the imagination.
So I’ll cut the City some slack here, but I’ll stand by my belief that, after a year of pushing bicycling in Miami via the Bike Miami programs and other endeavors, campaigns to exhort people to bike to Downtown for special events should be a given, a de facto part of either the Bike Miami program or of the Bicycle Master Plan.
Bike Miami Days is a lot of fun, and I love attending it, but we also need to start moving into the realm of pushing and promoting day-to-day bicycling. Things like the new bus shelter ad campaign between the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County are a step in the right direction. Now we have to urge all those people that we got on their bikes for the fun and games of Bike Miami Days to stay on their bikes and come to the very same area of the city for other events.
As for the Miami Book Fair, I decided to send out a message to some of the folks behind Bike Miami and the Green Mobility Network, as well as to the Book Fair, to suggest doing such a campaign in what little time we have left. It won’t be a huge campaign, not even a large one, but if something can be done, then it should. At the very least it would be great to have the Book Fair provide bicycle parking. As it was, last year there were a lot of riders; if we could secure a safe parking area for the bikes, I think it would send the right message to bicyclists and set the stage for a full-on campaign next year.
Green Mobility Network Chairman, John Hopkins, gave me some leads in regards to parking space we could request from the Miami Parking Authority, while City of Miami Bicycle Coordinator, Collin Worth, put in a call to the leadership of the Book Fair. We’ll see if this yields any results. I hope so.