Issue #47 of Momentum Magazine features a spotlight article on greater Miami (City of Miami and Miami Beach), written by local freelance journalist and green mobility advocate Dina Weinstein. In the article we get a fly-by look at the cycling core of the city, as well as a smattering of voices highlighting the various issues facing the south Florida cycling community as we go through our growing pains.
Overall I liked the article; short and sweet, it has a very upbeat tone that touches upon our constant battles but doesn’t miss the fact that Miami is a great place to ride a bike.
I actually pitched to write this article when it was announced to the Momentum writers, and when it was given to Dina, I ended up chatting with her for about an hour about cycling in Miami Beach. Though none of my actual quotes made it in, I can see some of the subjects we touched upon scattered about, and brought to attention by quotes from people far more in positions to speak with authority than I. Which is to say I am glad that it was to Dina that I lost the assignment, and she did an awesome job.
Slow Bike Miami gets a mention in the calendar of cycling activities at the end of the feature, and sadly, that’s where I spotted a factual error, as it lists us as organizers of leisurely weekend rides, which we do not organize formally. Slow Bike Miami is all about sharing our journey on two wheels in the greater Miami area.
If you arrived here via the Momentum feature, please accept our apologies for the misunderstanding. Though know that you can certainly find weekend rides on Miami Beach once a month with the Miami Beach Bicycle Center, as well as others organized by Emerge Miami, the South Florida Bike Coalition, etc., the info for which is all provided on the article itself.
My wife has been learning the Japanese language on her own for a while, which means an appreciation of Japanese culture has seeped into our household beyond pop-culture mainstays like anime, manga, sushi and ninjas! Part of understanding a language is understanding the culture that uses it, that shaped it, and we’ve both been enriched by what we’ve learned. For some time now we’ve known we have a couple of locations with a Japanese connection we could visit in our general vicinity, and last Sunday we were finally able to make it to the largest of them, the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach.
I knew of Imogen Heap; her name is uncommon enough that once you hear it, it tends to stick in your memory. I knew of her from the song “Let Go,” featured years ago in the soundtrack to Garden State (though it took some time before I learned that strange voice belonged to a woman!). Beyond that I had heard a couple songs here are there, especially on Pandora, where her music would sometimes come up as part of some of my playlists. So I knew of Imogen Heap, but I didn’t really know Imogen Heap. Until last night.
It was my wife’s idea to go see her in concert at The Fillmore in Miami Beach; tickets were cheap, general admission and given her non-top-40-radio status, the attendance would probably be manageable. Sure! And then it snuck up on me. Yesterday I played her latest album, which you can stream from her website, but that was it. I was going in cold, ready to soak up the new music.
There were three short opening acts: Euphoria, a trio of high-school kids from Boca Raton who won a contest held by Imogen; Geese, a violin/strings duo who are also part of Imogen’s band; and Ben Christophers, a guy and his guitar, also part of Imogen’s band. They each played 3 songs (Ben did 4) and were each good. The kids from Boca were very good for this being their first show (and what a show!); Geese was weird (in a good way), using computers, loops and effects to create soundscapes; and Ben was fine with his guitar, especially on a very trip-hoppy number that actually got the audience listening. About half an hour after these three acts were done, Imogen took the stage.
Last weekend, on Sunday, January 17, 44-year old Christopher Lecanne was killed in a hit-and-run accident while he bicycled on Key Biscayne, a popular area for road cyclists. The driver of the car was under the influence and after hitting Lecanne, dragged his mangled bike for about 4 miles before it became dislodged from under his car. He was arrested and charged, though a few days ago he posted bail and is currently out of jail.
The event has touched a nerve in the Miami cycling community and seems to be turning into that tragic catalyst that may fuel some actual changes in the city/cities/county of Miami. At least one hopes so.
There will be a Memorial Ride for Mr. Lecanne this Sunday on Key Biscayne. My wife and I won’t be attending because we’re both down with a nasty cold, but we certainly extend our sympathies and prayers to the Lecanne family and will be there with the great bicycling community of Miami in spirit.
With the start of the new year and my return to university for my Nursing degree, I have decided to make a radical change in my life as it has been for the last (give or take) 9 years: I want to be car-lite, and eventually car-free, in 2010.
Over the past year, I really got into riding my bicycle as a regular form of transportation, increasing little by little the amount and distance of riding I’d do. Along with that, my interest in bicycle advocacy was also ignited, due greatly to the lack of functional bicycle infrastructure in the Greater Miami area, and especially in my home of Miami Beach, a place that by all means should be a paradise for bicyclists. As I stand a couple of days away from starting a new phase in my life, I figured it was the perfect time to put into practice what I have been preaching to the four winds: a bicycle, especially when coupled with other alternative forms of transportation, can be pretty much all you need.
The truth is that for a few months now I have been chewing on the idea of getting rid of my car, a 1996 Toyota Camry. I like my car just fine, but I have fallen out of love with it and with the car-centric lifestyle. As I have used it less and less I have noticed that it hasn’t been that big of a deal, and in fact, it has saved us a nice amount of money. That was all well and good while I was unemployed and thus my car trips were few and far in between, but why not take the plunge?
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.
Since my post last week on Critical Mass, I’ve spent all my time addressing comments and none writing new posts. It’s been great, because I believe we’ve had a good and civil conversation, something that definitely needs to happen often, but it’s also been very draining at times. Couple that with a move to a new apartment, and it just makes for a very tired blogger.
Yesterday I checked my Twitter feed and I saw a tweet from @YanielCantelar that read, “@Highmoon this blog post is for you! http://bit.ly/2rutYv.” Yaniel is a cyclist that lives down in south Miami-Dade and whom I started following via the @BikeMiami account. He normally rides a road bike and does time-trial/speed riding, posting on his blog photos and videos taken with his iPhone, and cool graphs put together by his Garmin unit. While this isn’t the type of riding I do, I enjoy connecting with other cyclists in the city. Obviously I was curious about Yaniel’s tweet, so I clicked.
Yaniel’s post is entitled “Slow Bike Westchester,” where he blogs about having gone out on his Regions Bank green cruiser to take a ride around his neighborhood just for the fun of it. No Lycra jersey, no clipless pedals, no time to beat, just riding, cruising. And he enjoyed it thoroughly.
After a week of heavy conversation on the CM thread and other forums, Yaniel’s post lifted my spirits and brought a smile to my face.
Rock on, Yaniel, and keep slow bicycling every so often. Your road bike won’t be jealous, I promise.
September 21st will see the final summit to present the City of Miami Bicycle Master Plan for public review. This will be the last chance for the public at large to see what the City of Miami is planning to do in regards to bicycling, including programs and infrastructure, and more importantly, to give feedback on the proposed plan. The two previous summits were a success in terms of public participation and education, so I’ve no doubt this one will go off without a hitch as well. Sadly, we won’t be in attendance, as we already had something scheduled for that night.
Final Miami Bicycle Summit
Monday, September 21, 2009
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Belafonte TACOLCY Center
6161 Northwest 9th Avenue
Google Map here
For more information, check out the City of Miami Bicycle Master Plan page. Though some of the documents need to be updated to reflect the second and now third bicycle summits, you can see detailed PDFs of the City of Miami Bike Related Projects for 2009 and 2010, as well as the proposed (and hoped for) combined bike lane/path/way network at the end of 2010 (frankly, if half of those proposed bike corridors can be put into service I will feel that it has been a success).
After a short while last week when we weren’t sure if Bike Miami Days would be able to come back for an October date, it has now been confirmed the event is on thanks to the amazing generosity of the City of Miami Police officers that will donate their time to make it happen. This event will also mark the last Bike Miami Day or Ride that Mayor Manny Diaz will hold while in office, as his term comes to an end in November. I sincerely hope that whoever wins the mayoral race (coughnotregaladocough) continues the legacy Diaz leaves in place in promoting an emergent bicycling culture in Miami.
Here are the dates for the two upcoming events.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
This 2-hour-ish, Police-escorted ride will explore the MiMo District of the City of Miami, located north of the Design District along Biscayne Blvd. I don’t have a route map, but here is a Google Map of the MIMO/Upper East Side NET Office, starting point for this ride.
Though this ride happens the same day that Yom Kippur starts in the evening, we are planning to be there as this isn’t that far from our home and we can be back in time to prepare.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Event page on Facebook
This will be a full-on, 6-hour, Downtown-closed-to-motorists event, the first one after the summer break. Information about this event will surely start to trickle in over the next few weeks so keep an eye peeled to the Bike Miami Blog (to which you can subscribe to receive updates via email) and the Bike Miami Facebook page for news.
This event falls right at the start of the Jewish holy day of Sukkot, so my wife and I will not be present. Nevertheless, we are ecstatic that the proper means could be found for Bike Miami Days to come back, and exhort everyone who can to attend.
Bicycling Magazine hosted one of their BikeTown events here in Miami today, from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, at Bayfront Park. I missed when the original announcement of this went out, as I was in Puerto Rico, so I was not able to enter the contest for one of 30 new Jamis commuter bikes being given away. Regardless, I wanted to go Downtown for the event to show support for those that did win and for the City of Miami’s bike initiative, which ultimately is what brought BikeTown to our city. I’ve been off the bike for months now, so I wasn’t sure that doing the North Beach-Downtown 2-hour trek would be the best idea; I decided to drive Downtown and then bike around for a while. I got to Bayfront at around 12 noon (thanks Miami Beach traffic) but I was still on time to catch most of the proceedings. Which really amounted to a few people giving speeches: people from the City of Miami, from Bicycling Magazine, from MetLife (sponsors of the event, and apparently the reason why this was held on a Thursday at noon), and from Elite Cycling (the shop that put together the bikes). Once this was done, it was time for the pictures.
Each winner had been notified prior to the event so each one had a bike already pre-assigned, built to their measurements. Once everyone had found their respective bike, the next 10-15 minutes were all about the official pictures and video (which I’m hoping will show up on the news, but I’m not holding my breath). That taken care of, the three remaining unclaimed bikes, plus an extra one provided by one of the sponsors, were raffled off (again, I missed the sign-up for this – a cosmic sign, you think?), so in the end, 31 new bikes were given away.
I have to say that I was very surprised (in a pleasant way) to see about 60-ish people there, considering the weird time for this event. Yes, most of it were the winners and organizers, but there were also fans of bicycling in Miami in attendance. In the end, BikeTown was pretty much a photo- and video-op for those involved in it–there was no rally built around it, no peripheral events meant to capitalize on the excitement, which is understandable considering the weekday noon time–but it was a nice event nonetheless. If nothing else, it is proof positive of the City of Miami’s efforts to make Miami into a bicycling nexus, and the City appreciates it.
As I drove back home up Biscayne Blvd, I could not help but notice the amount of cyclists going up and down the street in all sorts of bikes, more than I recall seeing months ago, before this whole BikeMiami thing started. There’s your BikeTown right there.
You can check out the photos in the slideshow below or at Flickr: BikeTown Miami – 08/27/09.
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