Bike Miami Days in Coconut Grove

On Sunday, April 25, we had the first Bike Miami Days event of 2010, held in Cocount Grove, one of the oldest and picturesque areas of Miami. As it was last year, the April event was co-sponsored by the Dutch Consulate in celebration of Queen’s Day, which means the Dutch community of Miami was out in full force (seriously, where are you hiding?) and, thanks to the free T-shirts they were handing out (Go Green, Go Dutch, Go Bike), the Grove was a very orange place. My wife and I missed last year’s event so were were especially happy to be able to make it and party with the Netherlanders, huge fans of the Netherlands that we are.

We actually rode our bikes all the way from South Beach to Coconut Grove, using the Metrorail for the middle part of the route. Taking the bikes on the train was, in general, no problem, except for the fact that bikes have to go in the last cart but there is no actual space for them to be parked comfortably, so they end up being right in the way (thankfully no one requested to see if we had the completely useless bike permit for the train).

People may say whatever they want about riding a bike on the Beach, but at least here people are used to them on the road. Riding down to the Grove from US 1 was a challenge; even with the presence of a Share The Road sign, people barely gave us the 3-feet legal berth they’re supposed to. As we neared the waterfront, the road narrowed so much and the cars were speeding by so fast that we took the sidewalk… only to be yelled at by a lady with a stroller who was talking with a guy blocking it. “Get on the road, that’s where you’re supposed to be, not on the sidewalk. It’s the sideWALK.” I had to bite my tongue so hard to not retort that while, yes, she is entirely correct in part of her statement (and we know this well, as riding on the road IS the way we prefer to ride), by law we are also allowed to take to the sidewalk if we feel the road is not a safe alternative, which at that moment we didn’t. Whatever.

At Peacock Park we were met with a sea of orange that was just fantastic! We saw tents for tourism boards from Aruba and Curacao, one for the Dutch Consulate where we got our orange shirts, one for the upcoming Dutch school and one for Gazelle Bicycles (and seriously, what gorgeous bikes these were!). We put on our shirts and took to the streets.

In general, riding around the Grove was very nice. The roads were not completely closed, though, and the route was not well marked, which created confusion and a few close encounters between cars and bikes. Later I learned that this was due to the last-minute hail-mary nature of how the event came to be and the not-so-complete cooperation of the City of Miami. Even with all that, it was a fun day.

In addition to riding around Coconut Grove, an area that we used to frequent quite a bit during our college years living in Kendall, we also rode down to The Barnacle, one of Miami’s oldest (and still in original condition) houses, right on Biscayne Bay. Lots of other riders did the same, which is great as more people should know about this treasure of Old Miami right in our midst.

To cap it off, we had a free Heineken and later chilled out a bit at the South Florida Bike Coalition fundraising after-party at Akashi. There we got to meet Maria, who is representing a company from Colombia called Cyclus, which makes bags and accessories from recycled tire inner tubes. Cyclus also employs poor people in Colombia in their manufacturing process, so not only are they eco-friendly, they are socially-friendly as well. Maria got to the Grove a bit late in the day so she wasn’t able to show he wares at the street fair, though the moment she opened up her suitcase people started checking out all the neat bags, especially the one nicknamed the “Armadillo.” I actually ended up buying from her a pannier for my bike, and I’ll write more about it later on. Cyclus is still setting up its online presence, but you can see the catalog at the website and contact Maria for pricing info and direct purchases.

After the event, we took the train south to go to Target (making this trip officially the farthest we’ve been from home on our bikes), then rode it all the way back to Downtown Miami, riding the bikes back to the house to cap it all off with a nice sushi dinner. Yum!

Many thanks to M.O.S.T. (Miami Open Street Team), South Florida Bike Coalition, the Dutch Consulate, and every single person/group/team/company that made Bike Miami Days in the Grove a reality and a success. We had a lot of fun, and want very much to see more events like this continue in Miami.

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