For a number of reasons, I’ve been, literally, off the bike for months now. We’ve also missed the last three Bike Miami Days, including the April edition in Coconut Grove alongside the Dutch Consulate, which I hear was nothing but a spectacle. That’s why when it came to today’s Bike Miami, the last one for the current season (summer’s here, so it’s officially time to go inside), we were both incredibly pumped for the occasion.
It started a bit off, given that during the month of May, the Venetian Causeway has been closed to all-but-local traffic, cutting off our one way to bike down to Downtown from the Beach. Rather than face Biscayne Blvd., risk the MacArthur Causeway, or waste time taking a bus, we decided to drive (which, on reflection, provided a bit of a bookend to our Bike Miami experience for this year, as we also drove down to the first one). We used one of the Pay-to-Park spaces since it was cheaper than the parking at Bayside, and off we went.
This is the first time we’ve been there early enough to attend the customary rally, this time on the steps of the Courthouse. There was live music and some kiosks with varied information. We got to see some of the “regulars” and were greeted by Kathryn Moore, tireless Bike Miami dynamo that she is for Mayor Manny Diaz (did you know the Mayor’s on Twitter?). We saw some folks dance for the chance to win three bikes and a dude pull a Ford Fiesta while on a bike. Then, off to ride.
The route by now is well-known to us. It extended once more to the Miami River, though there was nothing going on there this time around. The riverside was, however, preened and very inviting, though Lummus Park was, still, closed to the public. I was once again reminded of the potential for that area of Downtown Miami and the idea my wife and I dreamed up for a Downtown Riverside Marketplace, which I wrote up for Miami Metblogs (Part 1, Part 2).
Around this area we suddenly found the entrance to the Miami River Greenway, right under the I-95 Overpasses, except it was fenced closed after maybe a little over 100 feet. The paved walkway I know continues along the river all the way to the bay, but it is broken up in parts by construction and gaps that yet need to be bridged. If there’s a project the City of Miami (also on Twitter, by the way) needs to put attention to and get done as soon as possible, the Miami River Greenway is it; being able to highlight and drive traffic to this wonder of our city, the one urban river we have, would do wonders for Downtown and the City in general, not to mention that it would create another great addition to the route for future Bike Miami Days.
The rest of the day was spent riding around the usual route established by now. We visited Mary Brickell Village again, and marveled, as we walked around, at how many empty retail spaces it has and what a shame that is (note to developers: open a Kosher eatery here–or frankly, anywhere Downtown–and we’ll heap praises and money every time we visit Downtown/Brickell) given how beautiful the Village is. We noticed the smaller attendance to this event than in months past, and speculated that it had to do with the heat (it was HOT today) and the fact that it was the seventh event; both are good reasons why it makes perfect sense to close up Bike Miami for the summer and wait for the cooler climate of the fall to restart. There were hardly any kiosks and those that were left fairly quickly with less than a handful sticking around till the 2 PM closing time. Once again, Bayfront Park was not a part of the Bike Miami route due to a conflicting event.
We rode around, enjoying the chance to be on our bikes after about a three-month hiatus, but by 3-ish PM we were ready to head back home. We packed the bikes back on the rack, and said goodbye to Bike Miami for the time-being.
I’d like to do a review of Bike Miami as it’s grown since its inception seven months ago, but overall, we’ve been very pleased. Even this event, which by all accounts was the least attended, was successful in its stated goal of allowing people to explore the city in a new way and promoting bike culture in Miami. The summer break will be good for everyone, allowing excitement to build over the next four to five months. Come the fall, I know we’ll be ready to bike down again and party on two wheels.
Also, check out the post I wrote for Miami Metblogs: Miami Tops U.S. City for Cycling Events Thanks to Bike Miami Days.
You can check out the photos in the slideshow below or at Flickr: Bike Miami Days – 05/17/09.