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Saturday July 12, 2008

Wow: the mayor of Miami met with the participants of Critical Mass today. (via SFDB)

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Wednesday June 4, 2008

Georgia and Florida, manmade

CHURCH

More photos from the trip, this time hopefully in contrast to the previous “nature” shots. To answer some of the practical questions I’ve been getting: I took the train up to Savannah last Friday. Upon getting to the train station at 8 pm (just as the sun was setting) I had to put my bike back together (it was boxed for the trip) and search for a camping spot for the night. I began pedaling the next morning, and arrived back in Miami the next Sunday. That’s nine days on the bike, including three night stays in motels and five nights of camping. My speedometer was once again on the fritz during this trip, but my daily mileage averaged over 80 miles, with at least a couple of 100 mile days. Other then an almost-constant headwind, the weather was cooperative, with no rain to speak of, and comfortable days and cool nights (at least until the last few days in South Florida, where the sun laughed at my SPF 30 and cooked me to a crisp).

As a bicycle tourist, I was able to tap into an abundance of goodwill from motorists, truckers, pedestrians, convenience store clerks, waitresses, other cyclists, bike shop workers, park rangers, law enforcement officials, and just plain everyone I ran across. There is a whole taxonomy of friendly waves that I discovered which unfortunately I cannot express in a text format (but ask me if you run into me).

One story I can share is the thing about the dogs. Folks in rural Georgia sometimes have loose dogs hanging around outside their homes, and a cyclists is exactly what these dogs love to chase. In fact, for the first few days of the trip, I’d be chased by dogs several times a day. Usually, a little adrenaline would kick in and I’d hustle a bit and soon pass out of the dogs’ territory, at which point they quickly give up chase. Two occasions stand out. Once, two dogs ran after me and straight into the path of an oncoming minivan, which came to a screeching (and honking) halt, within a hair’s breath of death. The other time, two good sized dogs saw me coming, and ran out to meet me, barking, growling, and blocking my path of escape. I got off the bike and tried to use it as a shield between myself and the animals, but they wisely spilt, each circling me from one side. I fended them off for a bit by yelling and squirting my water bottle in a wide arc, and walked down the left side of the road, my bike a sort of shield. They escorted me, and whenever they got too close I again squirted water and yelled at them (my yelling got gradually friendlier as the threat seemed to subside). Once I was passed their territory I was allowed to get back on my bike and ride on.

So. Anyway, here’s the slideshow of photos of man-made stuff from the trip.

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Tuesday June 3, 2008

Scenic Georgia, Florida

Northern Florida mudflat

In Miami, a dense urban and suburban strip of communities borders the Everglades on the west and the Atlantic on the east. So it’s easy to forget that most of the rest of the country is rural — a web of roads connecting scattered homes, farms, and the occasional small town. This is commingled with lots and lots of largely raw nature, with forests, prairies, rivers, and lakes, many of which look exactly as they have for thousands of years.

Or rather, on some level we’re aware of it. You can’t leave the state via I-95 without driving through stretches of forest, but it’s always seemed like an abstraction to me that way. And of course the best thing about riding a bike, even around the block, is for the slow way you experience your surroundings. Here then, the first of a few slide shows from the trip. I edited out anything with overt traces of humanity, trying to convey the varied and primal nature that’s still out there.

The route I followed started in Savannah and followed Section 6 and Section 7 of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Atlantic Coast series of maps. Through Georgia the rout heads about 60 miles inland from Savannah and meanders through the interior of the state, then follows the coast for most of Florida. Here’s the slideshow.

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Friday May 23, 2008

& i'm out (again)

Well, folks, I’m off on the trip originally mentioned here. The route is different: I’m catching Amtrak to Savannah GA first thing in the morning, and pedaling back according to routes suggested by the ACA, via maps that finally arrived Wednesday.

My only contact with this site will be by cell phone, which is why the twitter updates have once again taken prominence. Should be back in 1 week and some change, barring unforeseen circumstances, in which case all bets are off. Stay tuned for updates from the road.

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Tuesday May 6, 2008

Alton Road bike lanes? Weather we like it or not, Alton Road is soon to be torn up. So, Miami Beach commissioners had a choice to make. Look at the two proposals below, and see if you can guess which they chose to recommend to FDoT.

alton road proposed reconstruction
 

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Thursday April 10, 2008

Do not adjust your monitor — the geniuses in Hallandale insisted that the little bike guy face right, even if that meant two overlapping opposite signs.

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Tuesday March 25, 2008

A zip through the Florida Keys

keys

So, the plan was simple: bike down to the Keys over Thursday and Friday and back Saturday and Sunday. I wasn’t sure how far I’d get, but as the weather seemed to be agreeable I decided Friday afternoon to go all the way to Key West. Unfortunately the way back was marred by technical difficulties with the bike (part of the reason for doing this was just to work out these sorts of problems in preparation for the longer trip) resulting in total breakdown at MM(Mile Marker) 69, and rescue. So, here’s the long, heavily annotated slideshow.

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Monday March 10, 2008

Another video of an Alley Cat Bike Race. Looks like fun. (via)

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Thursday March 6, 2008

Florida bicycle adventure

florida bike route

I’ve been considering a bike vacation, and I’m throwing this out in case anyone has any suggestions or advice. My current thinking is to take a train to Tallahassee, then spend two weeks biking back along route above or something similar. Pass through Gainesville, then swing over to the east coast for Cape Canaveral, then south along A1A, possibly with a detour toward Lake Okeechobee. 540 miles isn’t too much for 10 days or so, but the idea is that it be leisurely. I’d want to follow the quietest side-roads possible and see as much of what there is to see as possible. FerfeLaBat already had some suggestions — anyone else? Of course I’ve ridden through the state any number of times, but presumably this would be a fresh perspective photos would follow, along with updates as often as I could get to an internet window (probably not that often) and numerous twitter updates. I’m also wondering whether to try to bring camping gear along, or whether to stick strictly to motels (thinking the latter — nothing sucks more then a day of biking without a shower, and campgrounds with such facilities are few, and who wants to have such strict targets). Thoughts?

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Monday February 25, 2008

Crazy video of the Miami Alleycat bike race. Via Rick to whom: 1) Where did you get the idea that this is a Critical Mass event? and 2) How is it a cyclist’s fault that some pedestrian walks out into the street without looking?

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Wednesday February 13, 2008

You can learn to drive: Part 5 (dealing with bicycles)

bike in traffic

So there you are, driving merrily along, minding your own business, and suddenly there’s a cyclist in the road in front of you. The lane is narrow, the street is busy, and dude is like two feet out from your lane’s right line, and he’s not moving over to let you pass. Wtf??

Well, you know what I’m going to say, but hear me out anyway. I’ve been at this situation from both sides, so I understand your frustration. The first thing to realize — and believe me it is a realization that is very far from universal — is that cyclists have as much right to the road as cars do. We’re not blocking traffic, we are traffic, as the Critical Mass folks say.

Okay, so here’s the law: The cyclist can be as far out into the lane as he feels he or she feels necessary. That means out of the way of parked cars who’s doors can fly open unexpectedly, out of any road debris potholes, and in the case of narrow lanes, just out in the middle of the lane. If you can’t without giving the bike a few feet of space, don’t. (Update: Commenters indicate that 3 feet is the legal minimum!) I know it’s frustrating sitting there with a row of cars behind you, but trust me: the cyclist isn’t any happier about it then you, and he’ll give you a chance to pass as soon as possible. Note that honking just shows you’re an ignorant moron, and in my case at least will make me move farther over into the lane before you try squeezing by and killing me. (Which, btw, thank you to everyone’ who’s passed without killing me — I really appreciate it!)

Four way stops: Yes, cyclists often run four-way stops. Yes, there are situations where you have to stay stopped for a couple of extra seconds, but trust me, it’s better for everyone this way. Imagine you get to the stop sign a little after a stopped bicycle; now you’re waiting much longer, because these things take a while to get up to speed. If you’ve come to a complete stop, and the bicycle is a few car-lengths away from the intersection, go ahead. Otherwise, exercise a little patience. Momentum is a beautiful thing.

Stop lights: Kind of a similar situation; bikes sometimes run red lights. When they cut it a little too close, a gentle tap on your brake is considered more polite then a honk of the horn. Oh, speaking of horn honking — do NOT honk at a bicycle to let them know you’re behind them and getting ready to pass. This is annoying, and may require the bike to move further out into the lane, so as to prevent someone clearly clueless from passing too close. Urban cycling is exiting enough without drivers going out of their way to make it more stressful. If you’re waiting to turn and a bicycle is passing, sit patiently — no inching up, please.

Special note to cell phone users: Look, sorry, but you swerve all over the road, ok? I know you don’t notice it, but that’s because you’re on the phone. If you’re trying to pass a bicycle and you’re on the phone, give the bike lots and lots of space to leave room for your swerving. Be extra careful. If you’re not going to hang up, at least stop talking. Thank you to everyone who hasn’t killed me yet!

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Tuesday February 12, 2008

Bike lanes around the world separated from regular traffic, often by a row of parked cars. Bad idea, because right-turning cars can’t see the bike, and you die. Bike lanes need to be in very plain view of regular traffic, so I agree — the Barcelona solution would have been a beautiful way to go for Biscayne Blvd. Fuck you very much, city planners and FDOT.

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Monday February 11, 2008

bike for sale!

My bike, for sale! Seen in action here, and it includes all the accessories seen in both pictures. First $100 takes it. SOLD!

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Tuesday February 5, 2008

Around the Redlands

A few photos from a bicycle trip around the Redlands a couple of weekends ago:

I think this is a field of little plots where folks in the surrounding developments can have little vegetable gardens. One-way streets crisscross and for now it’s very barren and abandoned.

There really are more nurseries then farms, though plenty of each.

And yes, plenty of suburban hell here too. Some of it recent, but plenty of it is classic 70s and 80s vintage. Unlike Miami, folks cruise around on ATVs for fun.

Actually, this is South Miami. Another cute old house on the chopping block. Is that limestone construction, does anyone know?

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Thursday January 31, 2008

A great article on the state of cycling in Miami in the New Times. Good news: a burgeoning bicycle-activist movement, lots of riders. Bad news: complete apathy and ineptitude by city planners (I still can’t get over the fact that they re-did Biscayne from scratch and didn’t include bike lanes).

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Wednesday January 2, 2008

At Riptide, Isaiah Thompson has a wish-list of bike-related improvements to local streets. I can agree, but I also say ‘good luck.’ FDOT is spending millions to re-do Biscayne Blvd. as we speak, with no bike lane anywhere in sight. And note to road officials: if your bike path/lane is in crappier condition then the road, then the road is where you’ll find my bicycle. And note to drivers: when you honk at me I move into the middle of the lane, because you’re obviously a deranged lunatic who will side-swipe me if I don’t make it clear to your ignorant ass that you need to give me some fucking space as you pass. Update: OK, here’s my single wish, and it doesn’t require any road work: I want an online database of proven bike-friendly routes to and from different spots. Case in point: I was trying to make it from around Bird Rd. and US-1 last night to Downtown/Beach. The whole area south of US-1 is beautiful, quiet streets, but they’re riddled with dead ends, disorienting diagnals, and blocked routes. The right route would have been invaluable, because as it was I ended up on US-1, where I almost died (sudden screeching tires behind me made me realize I needed to get off the road), and ended up on the M-path, which is every bit the disaster Isaiah reports. I want something like Bikely, but slanted more toward getting from place-to-place, not pretty recreational routes.

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Monday November 12, 2007

From Saturday’s bike ride. Despite the scenery, I do not recommend that stretch of Krome Ave.

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Thursday October 25, 2007

“Salazar tried to maneuver sideways, but there was no avoiding the collision. When he hit, his bike flew over the truck — 10 meters, he says — and crashed on the other side, breaking in two. He went under the SUV as dozens of bikes behind him plowed into it and bounced off each other like birds in a turbine.” — Crazy SUV vs. bicycle pack accident. Please, people, watch out for the cyclists.

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Tuesday October 23, 2007

How to ride public transportation to work

Public transportation is slow, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. For anyone in Miami with a car, it’s usually an unthinkable alternative for commuting to work. Between figuring out how to get to the bus station, waiting for a bus, the long ride, and (god forbid) transfers, this is an option most of us dismiss out of hand, despite a vague awareness that riding the bus is somehow socially responsible.

But the solution is surprisingly simple. You throw a bicycle into the equation, and a lot of the problems go away. For the last few weeks, I’ve been taking a combination of bicycle/bus to work, and on the way home biking the whole way. Follows a step-by-step of how I now get to and from work, but first the benefits:

  1. The environment, stupid. Depending on our commute time and vehicle, we’re shifting the international power balance toward countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia on the front end, and pounding coffin nails into global warming on the back end.
  2. Exercise. You know you need it.
  3. Time to read. Books. I don’t know about you, but stupid internet has eaten up most of my book reading time at home. Here’s an hour a day reserved for paper reading.
  4. Money. A weekly $40 gasoline tab is now a $7.50 bus tab. Not exactly a get-rich plan, but it’s something. Of course people without a car figured all this out years ago.

Can something like this work for you? The answer is, probably. Here’s what you do:

transit map

1) Hit the maps. Here’s a link [PDF] to the Miami-Dade transit master map. Confusing, right? No worries — all you’re doing here is getting a general lay of the land, figuring out which buses (or Metrorail, if you’re lucky) may work for you. If you’re lost, try the South Florida Trip Planner.
 

route map

2) Select route. Here’s the list of routes. Find the ones that seem like possibilities and check the detailed maps of their routes. (Careful: some lines pull sneaky tricks, like running differently on the weekend, or having alternating buses only loop part of the route.) Keep in mind that you can bike between 1 and 2 miles in 10 to 15 minutes, so the route only has to pass within a radius of where you are and where you need to be.
 

route schedule

3) Hit the schedules. Each route has schedules for both directions. Of course the buses don’t hit the stop at the precise time listed, but the map will give you a very good idea of how long the ride will take. Backtrack, and figure out what time you need to be at the stop.
 

bus

4) Flag down the bus. Have $1.50 ready. Bills or coins, but no change provided. Don’t even think about a bus pass — unless you’re riding more then two routes a day, it’s a sucker’s bet. When the bus pulls up, grab the handle on the rack out front and pull forward . . .
 

rack

5) Secure your bike. Easy. The bike closer to the bus faces this way, the front bike faces the other way. Pull the support arm over your front wheel, and wiggle it snugly into place. This is all fairly idiot-proof, but you can get more detailed instructions if you feel you may exceed Miami-Dade Transit’s idiot-proofing level.
 

inside bus

6) Ride. Contrary to popular belief, most buses are not crowded. I get plenty of personal space most of the time. The people watching is not to be underrated, but like I said, this is really an opportunity to get some quality reading done. Get off at the front door, so the bus doesn’t pull away with your bike!
 

ride home

7) Bike home. Bring a change of clothes for the ride home. Take all the side-roads and cut through all the parks you can. Enjoy the fresh air. Easy.

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Wednesday September 26, 2007

The sad result of speeding in Miami — a boy on a bicycle hit by a speeding driver, as witnessed and reported by Asawaa. This is old, but I’ve been staring at it in my browser for over a month and it’s oddly compelling. Asawaa’s photostream is worth investigating, too. He has images that are stitched together from hundreds of smaller photos.

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Thursday September 20, 2007

So long, bike!

Well folks, the Kryptolok South Beach Bike Theft Challenge ended this Saturday morning, when I walked outside to find my bike gone! That’s 47 days!! (A much nicer Raleigh mountain bike, which had been parked next to my bike for the past few weeks, was gone too; it had been secured by a very serious-looking Alcatraz chain/padlock combo. The pink bike remains.)

Personally, I’m thrilled — I went out Monday and bought a road bike to replace the mountain bike, getting a much better deal ($150 bike on clearance for $75), a much nicer, aluminum-built bike, and a much more realistic vehicle for practical transportation. I’ve actually commuted to work by bike/bus hybrid twice this week, and plan to do so regularly. (BTW, the new bike is a Crimson Triax)

So . . . what to do now? I’ve been keeping the new bike inside for now, mainly because I have no bike lock at all for now. The case of the Raleigh suggests that merely getting a “tougher” lock isn’t protection enough. So my options are: 1) As ‘I was there’ suggested, get two locks. For example, another Krypto U-lock, plus a heavy-duty chain and padlock from Home Depot. 2) Keep the bike inside at all times.

Having a bike in the apt. is a pain in the ass, although this one is a lot lighter, so lugging it in and out is easier. Another factor to consider is that the bike rack in front of my building, while behind a fence (the gate doesn’t lock anymore) is also behind a hedge; perhaps a more public place to lock the bike is something to look into. One more thing: a road bike is much harder to ride then a mountain bike — more difficult to steer, keep balance, keep an eye on the road, etc. — does that make it less desirable in the underground bike market?

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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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Tuesday August 7, 2007

Celeste Fraser Delgado profiles Mark Buckley and his pet rooster Mr. Clucky. Mr. Clucky has previously been featured in the New Times, has his own MySpace page, and has been photographed by Miami Fever. That’s quite the celebrity cock.

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Friday August 3, 2007

Bicycle renting stations from around the globe. I appreciate the sentiment, but this would never work in Miami. If you think so, make me a map of where you would put the rental stations. The distances are simply too great, even putting aside the obvious weather issues. Riding a bike is great exercise, and a really good way to get to know your neighborhood, but as transportation it just stinks. On the other hand, bike + public buses seems promising. But for that you need your own bike, because by nature the bike rental stations will be sparser then bus stops.

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Monday July 30, 2007

The Kryptolok bike-theft challenge

$80 bike, $34 lock

OK, so here’s my new bike, replacing the one stolen in June. I decided to double the amount of money I spent on the previous ineffectual lock, and got a Kryptonite Kryptolok, $34 bucks.

Kryptonite has a five-level system to assign theft-proofness to their locks, which is — no kidding — 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12. This lock is a tame level-8, but it looks impressive enough, and comes with $1250 worth of theft insurance (no power tool exemption, but enough hoops that require jumping through that I’m not going to bother).

By the way, this $80 bike from Target is great. It absolutely eats the road, it’s got 21 speeds, front suspension, and a seat that can be adjusted/removed on the fly. I’ve been torturing it, riding through construction sites, on beach sand, through water, and it holds up like a champ.

So, it’s been in front of my building since Saturday, locked just like you see it here (I’ve been removing the seat and water bottle). Let’s see how long it lasts!

And yes, that amazing pink bike with sponge seat is theft-proof. It’s got a hardware-store chain with a master padlock, a flat front tire, and it’s been sitting out there, unridden, for years. An inspiration to abandoned bikes everywhere.

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Monday July 2, 2007

Around the Beach

snake palm

I finally got a new bike Friday. In between downpours this weekend, I spent some time riding around Miami Beach. Here’s a slideshow of a few interesting things. Looks like water is going to be the big theme. Water and destruction. Well, water, destruction, and renewal.

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Wednesday June 20, 2007

Case of the stolen bike

bike and lock

So, this* is a bike I’ve had for probably maybe about 10 years, and for most of that time it sat unused at my parents’ place. A while ago I brought it down, but I didn’t really start riding it until a couple of weeks ago, and you know what? It was fun. Cycling isn’t nearly as good exercise as running, but two hours on a bike is better then twenty minutes jogging, and you get to see a lot more. I’d even planned a bus+bike route to work. But getting the damned thing in and out of my closet was a pain in the ass, and leaving it in the middle of my living room was getting annoying, so, enter the above lock.

Long story short, the bike lasted two days on the bike rack in front of my building, and was gone. So, yes, I recognize that it’s a shitty lock, and probably pretty easy to crack. But my question is this: who stole my bike? Was it someone who just happened to see it (someone from the immediate neighborhood maybe) who recognized that the lock was easy to pick, and did it sort of for the heck of it, or was it more of a “professional,” who would have been able to get through any lock (bolt cutters?) and has some sort of buyer of stolen bikes lined up?

In the end, this is just a good excuse to buy a better bike. But I need to know if I can keep it outside (with, say, a Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit), or if it’s going to have to live in my apartment with me.

Marginally related: Abandoned bicycles of New York.

* This is the closest picture I could find. My bike actually had a 5-speed shifter and straight handlebars.

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Wednesday June 13, 2007

Miami Beach nude cycling event. One arrest, but no actual nudity. What I want to know is how it’s illegal to organize a group of people to ride bicycles down Lincoln Rd.

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Tuesday April 24, 2007

MyBikeLane tracks cars that block bike lanes. With photos and license plate numbers. (via Spokes ‘n’ Folks, a blog about cycling in Miami(!))

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