Wednesday September 12, 2007

Riding a bike through Miami

Miami River

When I was a kid, my bike was indispensable to me. I explored the neighborhood, venturing farther and farther from home as I got older, learning about my world. Somewhere along the way I acquired a driver’s license and a car, and for a long time I was a car-only guy. But over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed exploring my urban landscape by walking, and I’ve come to appreciate the perspective that comes from low m/h travel.

But walking is out of proportion as a way to explore our sprawl-based metropolis. And so I’ve come to re-discover areas of my own neighborhood on my bike, and have again begun venturing far beyond. It’s amazing what you notice — how your very relationship to the streets changes — from a bycicle.

This all crystallized for me when I read Mike Lydon’s account of his commute by bicycle from South Beach to his workplace in Little Havana (he works for Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., who are doing Miami 21). He describes, from an urban-planner’s perspective, (and with lots of photos) the experience of riding through the same neighborhoods every day:

Leaving the office in the evening I ride along SW 8th Street, or Calle Ocho as it is most commonly referred. It is the epicenter of Cuban culture in Miami. Urban conditions vary along the corridor, but the particular stretch from our office on SW 25th Avenue to downtown is fairly walkable and presents a mixture of retail, restaurant and cultural offerings. Nonetheless, the street is absolutely inhospitable to the cyclist, which is why the majority of people ride on the sidewalks.

You should read Mike’s entire story, if not because it’s a worthwhile portrait of our city, then because it well documents the perspective of a place afforded by the process of biking through it regularly. It’s a way of experiencing an environment that drivers-only cannot even imagine. (via TransitMiami)

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  1. Mike Lydon    Wed Sep 12, 08:47 AM #  

    Thanks for the post and kind words. Please make one correction, our office is in Little Havana, not Hialeah.


    M i k e

  2. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal    Wed Sep 12, 12:59 PM #  

    Thanks for bringing this article some much warranted attention…

  3. Dave    Thu Sep 13, 06:30 PM #  

    Thanks so much for drawing my attention to this great article. Throughout college and my first 2 years working at the county courthouse, I bicycled around Miami every day as my main transportation. In those days (late 60s and early 70s), people looked at me like I was crazy. The experience however was everything both good and bad that Mike mentions in his essay. I finally quit and went to a car after two near death experiences with Miami drivers. I can only imagine what it’s like now with traffic and the cell phone effect! If Miami only had some decent bicycle only lanes I am convinced many more people would follow Mike’s lead, me included. Maybe you can send the article to City and County commisioners and get them to finally do something!

  4. Rob    Fri Sep 14, 03:28 PM #  

    I live in Broward where some of the main thoroughfares have bike lanes, and I have to say that while bike lanes help somewhat many motorist do not respect them. Cars often cruise while halfway in the bike lanes and motorist don’t give right of way to cyclist bike lane or not. If police would get off their cellphones and start enforcing the traffic law that are on the books, it would go a long way in making the roads safe for cyclist and pedestrians.

  5. Renee    Tue Sep 18, 01:51 PM #  

    We do need bike lanes in Miami! I live downtown and after a work accident, I will never drive again. My bike is my only transport and it honestly offers a unique view of Miami. I am and explorer by nature and my fave destinations are historical locales that lie hidden in this urban sprawl. The Miami River has some great little spots that include some lovely neighborhoods and one hidden little park downtown where there was once the homestead of a famed alligator wrestler from times long past. There is also an amazing house built in 1919 to look like a hindu temple from the set of a movie (reportedly the first filmed in Miami in 1918). That temple house is among the historic Miami River Estates. These things you won’t see by driving around in Miami. Biking is the best way to explore some amazing places here.