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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Miami getting friendlier for cyclists

Image of red bicycle in Miami
From the Miami New Times, 01.31.08:

Cyclists Court Death Daily
It's dangerous, but Miami is getting friendlier to bikes

At first glance, there is nary a place on God's green Earth better suited to biking than Miami. It's utterly flat, with weather that lets a cyclist pedal year-round without donning so much as a scarf in January. Its streets are wide and, for the most part, arranged in a tidy, easily navigable grid.

But to ride in Miami is to be among the few and the hunted. Florida ranks among the highest in bicycle fatalities in the nation--second only to California--and in 2006, eight cyclists were killed on Miami roads; nearly 400 were injured. Such statistics are nebulous, though; many bicycle accidents go unreported.

Meanwhile, as Miami totters in place, more cities are looking to bicycles as an answer to everything from traffic congestion and air quality to fitness and green transportation. Paris recently unveiled the most ambitious bike-sharing plan in history, making more than 10,000 bikes available to borrow citywide for anyone with a credit card. American towns like Portland, Denver, San Francisco, and, closer to home, Gainesville, have transformed themselves in a few short years into some of the most bike-friendly places on the planet. New York, already boasting some 200 miles of bike lanes, plans to double that number in the next two years; Chicago proposes that by 2015, every one of its three million residents will live within half a mile of a bike lane.

"We're so far behind and in the dark with bikes it's absurd," says Chris Marshall, who owns the Broken Spoke bicycle shop...Miami's best hope is that, despite everything, it's actually full of bikers, and for the first time in a long time, they're fighting back. In the past year, five new groups dedicated themselves to improving biking here. A recent op-ed in the Miami Herald by young urban planner Mike Lydon captured both the exasperation and hope: "Miami is choosing not to compete...Yet the city of Miami could become a great bicycling city." (Read more.)
An extensive--extensive--article on bicycling in Miami, comprehensively spanning the range from planners to advocates to Critical Mass, from cycling immigrant laborers to affluent community bike activists.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Bike Miami hopes to gauge and stoke interest in city cycling, Miami Herald
Visit: Miami rides a green wave toward a 'bike friendly' city, Miami Herald
Visit: Beach residents encouraged to bike for a week, Miami Herald
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Anonymous said...

Great article. I lived in Miami in the early 90's. I rode my bike as much as I could. It got to the point where I would carefully scout routes by car first and keep "bike" maps with me while I rode. The biggest source of danger was not really the road designs, which were horrible, but the overwhelming attitude of people that you just didn't belong and were second class.

I had a Hollywood, Fl police car run me off the road. I caught him at the light and he told me to get off the road. One can only hope southern Florida improves. My experience tells me at least it can get no worse.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I read this article in its entirety recently. I live in Miami and even driving my car makes me nervous, but there are more and more bicyclists on the roads everyday. Hopefully, the conditions will improve and Miami will get with it and add bike lanes.

Anonymous said...

I live just north of Miami in Fort Lauderdale. Cars rule.

Many people go so far to say that you simply can't get around without a car and harbor false beliefs about mass transit. Reactions range from, "oh, did you get a DUI?" to "Cool. You're going green!"

I live in the suburbs, but there is decent access to mass transit. Several places I frequent are accessible on foot, on the bike, on the bus, or any combination of the three. People living to the west of me aren't as lucky.

It's not a perfect system, but it has given me the courage to give up my car. Our household is now a 1-car household. The car is still available, but I prefer to use alternative transportation.