Back in 2010 I had this idea to go car-lite, then eventually car-free. I had a tag for it on my blog, I was taking notes on expenditures to validate my findings, and I was generally pumped up to do it. Then my bike got stolen, my class schedule changed, I lost impetus and it all fell by the wayside. Fast forward two years.
Much like in 2010, right at the start of classes in January my car was put out of commission, this time with the brakes ceasing to work instead of me getting my license suspended. My school is just on the other side of the bay from Miami Beach; it took me 6-7 minutes to get there by car, and being right next to the hospitals, it gets excellent public transportation coverage. So the next day I took the bus, decided it was doable on a regular basis, and after purchasing the reduced-cost bus pass for students, I made the switch entirely to public transportation.
I have not regretted it at all. Even though there are mornings when I arrive a few minutes late because of missing the bus, I still take it over the hassle and costs of driving.
In February, when my clinical rotations started, I happened to have my wife’s car available those two weeks, and when I didn’t, I car-pooled with a classmate. My next clinical rotation was at a hospital that is only 3.1 miles from my house, so now I get to commute by bicycle twice a week.
And I absolutely love it. I wake up early, yes, but then I ride for about 20 minutes around Miami Beach as the sun is rising. I get to take pictures in dramatic light. I get to arrive fully awake and ready to rock, whereas my classmates all arrive sleepy and groggy. Then in the afternoon I get to ride at a leisurely pace, stop along the way (maybe for a beer, maybe for a donut) and get home still with ample time in the day and some 7+ miles bicycled in m pocket. Seriously, what is not to love?
My car has been parked for two months and I have had absolutely no need for it. I have learned to live with the extra time public transportation/bike commuting requires and decided that the savings in cash and driving aggravations more than make up for it. I get in incidental exercise twice a week and help the environment just a little bit.
At this point I am considering selling my car and using that money for bus passes during the year. That means I’ll save the money I’d spend on repairs, parking permit, insurance and tag renewal. Even with a possible clinical rotation during the summer some 30 miles south (and an accompanying 3-hour public transportation ride starting at 3 AM), I am sure that it is the right thing to do now.
And how does this tie in with nursing, aside from the obvious connection with going to school and clinicals? This is role-modeling at its best. Although I have yet to take my Community Nursing class, I know it is an area with appeal to me, and one where I will seek to integrate my love of bicycles as much as possible. What I’m doing now can be considered research; it’s walking-the-walk so that I can talk-the-talk in the near future.
So, two years later, but look at that, I have achieved my goal of being car-lite, and eventually car-free!
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).
I tried to think of a more “title-y” title for this post, but there isn’t one beyond the pure fact: my bike was stolen.
Last night (Jan 31) I went to Publix (on Alton & Fifth Mall) on the bike then rode back to my apt (on Meridian Ave & 10 St). I took the bike through the back gate, past the rather large scooter parked there, and into the little area in the back of the building where I normally tie it down. I put on the U-lock (a Kryptonite Keeper 12 lock), which was stored in the left pannier, through the front wheel’s spokes and around the frame, [put on the chain lock (an OnGuard Mastiff lock) around the down tube], grabbed the bag with the groceries and went up. It was around 8 PM when I go home, as the Grammys started shortly thereafter.
This morning, when I left the house at around 7:25 AM (according to the text message I sent to Twitter right after), I walked out the back gate as I had to throw away the trash, passed by the scooter, and my bike wasn’t there. The U-lock was nowhere around, cut or otherwise, though the chain lock was still tied around the pipe that I use as anchor. The chain lock did not seem tampered with. I took a quick look around but I was late for my bus so I kept going (sending the aforementioned text message).
I’m not stating all these details just to be wordy, but to retrace each of my steps. And the reason I wrote one step above in between [brackets] is that I can only assume that I did this as is my rote when I park the bike, but I can’t remember 100%. The one thing that makes me doubt is that the chain lock was untampered with, and this is a lock that’s guaranteed to be tamper/cutting-proof. So yeah, it is quite possible that when I got home my mind was in la-la land and I forgot to tie the bike using the chain lock.
Nevertheless, with the U-lock locking the front wheel, unless they cut it, they had to have carried the bike out of the building’s fenced perimeter, and while that’s no impossible, my bike weighs around 50 lbs, so they certainly had their work cut out for them.
Thieves suck. I’m so sad and angry about having Elam stolen. I have already reported the theft to the Miami Beach Police Department, and will give them the frame number (equivalent to the VIN in a car) later today along with photographs. I’m also forwarding this info to all Miami Beach/Downtown Miami bike shops just so they can be aware. There aren’t that many Electra Amsterdam bikes in Miami, let alone in the Beach (there are only two Electra dealers in Miami Beach), and mine is the only one with a pair of Basil canvas panniers (though I expect these would have been removed immediately, as they are the bike’s most distinctive feature, though not the only one).
I don’t know if I’ll see my bike again. I certainly hope so, but I also know how common bike thefts are and I don’t really expect the police will be able to do much (even if it is a $700 bike). I also don’t have money right now to get another one, so it seems my slow bike days are, for the moment, on hiatus.
If you see my bike, think you saw it, have some info, whatever, feel free to leave it in the comments section.
Honest truth is, I got tired of just being a cheerleader for a team that is not even playing at the moment. I started that Twitter account as a volunteer effort to help the Bike Miami team get the word out about events and to promote regular city cycling in Miami. After that, there were two Bike Miami Days (neither of which I could attend) and a couple of Bike Miami Rides, all of which were properly promoted. But then the period right before the city election hit, and before more pressing matters like City Budget, Bike Miami was set aside. There was a moment of victory when the City of Miami Commission approved both the Miami Bicycle Master Plan and Miami 21, but then Mayor Diaz’s term in office came to an end, and the candidate that would have followed his lead was not chosen. And there Bike Miami ground to a halt and has remained since.
With the Bike Miami Coordinator also loosing her job in City Hall, there was a cease of communication about the future of Bike Miami that has yet to be rectified. I did keep the Twitter account going through this time but without any official backing, it became more and more difficult to truly have a direction and to know what message to broadcast beyond “get on your bikes, Miami.”
To this we can add an amount of aggravation caused by a local bike shop merchant who decided he would have a beef with me and anything I did through the @BikeMiami account, whether it was me retweeting info about cool bike-related products (most of which are not available in Miami, something we can lay at the feet of the retailers), bike-related news from around the nation/world, or pushing for the regular kind of bike riding that we see in Europe (i.e. normal, day-to-day stuff, not Lycra or anything else needing special equipment). He simply refused to understand that I was a volunteer that did not speak officially for Bike Miami, but that in general kept the spirit of the message of Bike Miami in mind when operating that account. When it finally got personal, I knew for sure that this wasn’t worth the hassle.
I have a very clear idea of what I would like to see Bike Miami do, but since Bike Miami is simply a brand name attached to a series of events organized by the City of Miami, there isn’t much I expect that name to do beyond the Days and Rides. After seeing sites like BikePortland.org, Bike-PGH.org, Bike PHL or BikeJax.org, I realized what Miami needs is a truly independent bicycle advocacy central site, something I don’t really see Bike Miami becoming unless it goes independent of Miami City Hall, which I also don’t really see happening. So you know, be the change you want to see and all that…
I hope that the people I left the account to don’t let it die off, because it has grown to be a good vehicle for communication with the regular folks out there as well as a link to the larger network of bike advocacy sites. But that’s now out of my hands. I will continue to be a cheerleader for the idea of Bike Miami, and hope that the new administration of the City of Miami can realize the importance of this brand name and the initiative it launched for the future of Miami.
I have plans already in motion for what I want to do and which I will reveal in due time.
Get on your bike and ride, folks.
Today I turn 35 years old. It’s a bit of a scary number, I have to admit. If 70 years is the general life expectancy (and the psalm kinda reinforces that), it means I’m squarely at my mid-life point. I’m not going to go out and buy a convertible or leave my wife for a 20-year old bimbo (though I did get a new bike, see below), but it does make me think about what’s gone on and what’s to come.
The most important event of my past year simply was the illness, convalescence and death of my mother; it simply dominated 2009 for me, having me spend a combined 4 months in Puerto Rico spread out from February to August. This has also affected me deeply, making this day a bittersweet affair. I spent all of last week in a really bad funk (though I tried not to, unsuccessfully) because of the simple realization that today would come and go and I would not get a call from Mom. I’m better now than I was last month, but I still feel it from time to time, and last week it was overwhelming. But I know she would not like it all to see me in this despair, so I move along.
This year, however, I opted not to have a birthday party of any kind. It helps that 99% of my friends are all people I interact with online and do not live in Miami, so it makes putting a party together a bit harder. Besides, it just did not feel right.
As I look forward, I see my desire and plans to enter the School of Nursing at FIU, and simply cannot wait to get that started. I hope to have all the admissions stuff ironed out by the end of this week, next one tops, so I can get on with the rest of the paperwork needed. I want to start in the Spring, period.
This move into Nursing actually matches a general shift in my mood and personality of late: I want to do things that are greater than myself. Even when writing about bikes in Slow Bike Miami, I am hoping to turn that into a way to help out the general bicycling community, to help the City of Miami/Miami Beach, to reach out beyond my own experience into connecting with others. I am tired of worrying only about myself and my immediate surroundings; I long to affect an area greater than me. I’m still figuring out how to do that, but that’s where my inner compass is taking me. I know Mom would be proud.
So, we’ll see what 35 brings. I’m ready to face it and make the most of it.
On a lighter note, I can talk about two birthday gifts I have gotten so far, both of which are amazing.
The first one is a book given to me by my wife. I actually got this about a month ago as an early present, and it still astounds me.
This is a massive book. Huge. Gargantuan,even! Here it is compared to the 575-pages Pathfinder RPG and the 630-page Starblazer Adventures RPG, the other two massive books I own.
All that medical awesomeness AND it comes with an online version as well. It’s an awesome gift, and I thank my wife so much for it. With this, my Nursing Library has now officially been started.
The second one is the new Electra Amsterdam bike I bought for myself. You can read all about that gift over at Slow Bike Miami.
Wow, you blink and a month has gone by since the last roundup. It’s been a busy month so let’s get to it.
- The Greatest Lesson From Travel: Awe (9/8/09)
- Win a Trip on the Orient-Express at the Ticket to Ride World Championship (9/23/09)
- Geeky Clean Soaps Perfect For All Gamer Travelers (9/25/09)
- Sunday Afternoon Ride (9/7/09)
- The Time To Upgrade Has Come (9/8/09)
- Bike Miami No More? (9/9/09)
- My Bike Miami Wish List (9/10/09)
- Shopping For A New Bike – The Dutch Bikes (9/11/09)
- Biking to Synagogue: Shabbat Edition (9/13/09)
- Slow Bicycle Blogs (9/14/09)
- Bike Miami’s Back For September And October (9/15/09)
- My First Flat Tire (9/16/09)
- The Final Miami Bicycle Summit (9/17/09)
- I (Bike) Miami Shirts (9/18/09)
- New Year, New Look, New Logo (9/18/09)
- Miami Cyclists: Please Be Nice (9/21/09)
- A Cycling Webcomic: Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery (9/22/09)
- Shopping For A New Bike – Test-Riding the Electra Townie (9/23/09)
- The Practical Pedal, A Free Magazine for the Slow Bicyclist (9/25/09)
- Bike Miami Ride: Upper East Side (9/29/09)
- Shopping For A New Bike – A Latecomer & A Decision(?) (10/1/09)
- Shopping For A New Bike – And The Winner Is (10/2/09)
- [SBM Bicycle TV] Down the Bridge (10/5/09)
- Dreaming of Bicycle Boulevards in Miami Beach (10/7/09)
I’m starting a new feature on my blog called the Project Roundup.
I keep a handful of blogs on different subjects. Before, I would have them syndicate that content here into this blog as a way of making Highmoon’s Pondering an all-things-me clearing house. Problem is, I find that tactic ends up diluting this blog’s content. The Roundup is a way of keeping this blog a central info place for all the stuff I’m doing without the clutter of syndicated posts.
The Project Roundup will be done on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, depending on how much content there is on the other blogs.
- Now Supporting Pathfinder (8/23/09)
- Liber Sodalitas: The Dream Healers (Pathfinder edition) now available (8/24/09)
- Thoughts on Pathfinder (8/27/09)
- The Gamer Traveler Website Gets A Facelift (8/5/09)
- Not Going to #GenCon, But Still Almost There (8/8/09)
Due to dealing with family issues that had me spending a lot of time in Puerto Rico, I’ve not been on the bike almost at all this year (attending the last Bike Miami Days in May being the big exception). That changes today.
I’m heading out now to Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami to attend BikeTown Miami, sponsored by Bicycling Magazine and the City of Miami. Bikes will be given out and raffled, and we’ll celebrate biking in the city. I only wish (so fervently) that my wife was coming along.
I’ll post a review of the event later on. Now, it’s back on the bike again!
I have joined Metblogs, a network of city-focused blogs for a number of metropolitan areas around the world. My friend Patricia is a contributor for the Seattle Metblogs and that kinda gave me the impetus to do the same in my own city. Given how the Miami Metblogs was downright suffering for lack of content (the last non-news post was in March 08) I decided this would be a great way for me to connect more with my hometown and a way to talk about the city aside from the topic of cycling, which I already cover in my Slow Bike Miami Beach blog (though I also expect to cover some cycling stuff on Metblogs as well).
So drop by Miami Metblogs and check out whatever I end up writing about there (and hopefully we’ll have more contributors joining up soon as well). You can check out my Author Profile page which includes links to articles written by me, or go to the front page and see what’s going on.
I have decided to move all my cycling activity to its own blog, Slow Bike Miami Beach.
I will continue to syndicate those posts to this site, but having it as a separate entity will also allow me to target local blogrolls and groups, providing a site that Miami readers can tune into without the extra content about games, podcasts, etc. that is very much a part of my general blog.
I have more such organizational news to share later, once things are in place.