Currently viewing the category: "Miami Beach"

or, “Run Pedestrian, Run.”

 

Miami Beach has become a city that is no longer accessible to pedestrians. This might not come as a suprise since Florida is one of the deadliest states for pedestrians as a whole. However, Miami Beach claims that is “is in High-Gear with Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety” and has “a bicycle and pedestrian safety initiative currently underway, with the goal of reducing the number of accidents between motor vehicles and cyclists/pedestrians through education and enforcement.” (Source: Bike Month Press Release, City of Miami Beach).

Unfortunately, as a pedestrian walking the streets of Miami Beach everyday, I cannot confirm any of the above. On the contrary, conditions worsen evey day, to the point where I can now confidently say that Miami Beach is not safe for pedestrians. Here are just a few of instances where pedestrians cannot at all or just barely cross streets without having to fear for their life or running across.

1. The intersection of West Ave & Lincoln Rd

There is no pedestrian crossing light at all on one side. Why? Is that too expensive to install? Wasn’t Lincoln Rd intended for pedestrians as per Lapidus’ design? So if I wanted to walk to that new restaurant setting up shop, what would I do, since I cannot cross here? Cross West, cross Lincoln, cross West again…or just drive?

Lincoln Road Pedestrian Safety

2. The pedestrian light on West & 16th has been taped shut.

Cross at your own risk.

You cannot cross here walking. Only cars can.

You cannot cross here walking. Only cars can.

3. The pedestrian light on Alton Rd & 10th has been taped shut.

The Whole Foods supermarket is now unreachable for pedestrians coming from the East side of Alton Rd.

No walking to Whole Foods.

No walking to Whole Foods. Pedestrian on the left staunchily ignoring that the Sidewalk is closed.

4. The pedestrian light on Alton Rd & 14th has been taped shut.

The bank of America on one side and the CVS store as well the the shopping mall on the other side are now unreachable for pedestrians on Alton Rd.

20140924_090211

5. The entrance to Lincoln Road on Alton has been blocked off for pedestrians.

Just a tiny whole in the blockade is open to pedestrians. When they get green, cars also turn into their passage. It’s so unsafe it’s ridiculous. Look at these tourists trying to cross, staring in disbelief at the oncoming traffic.

20140924_090602

Lincoln Road blockade

Yup, that is a green light for peds.

Run pedestrian, run.

Run pedestrian, run.

To add insult to inury, the Greater Miami Conventions and Visitor’s Bureau launched a taxpayer-funded advertisement campaing including posters and a website (http://discoveraltonroad.com/) “in an effort to improve access to the businesses along Alton Road and West Avenue during the FDOT construction”. The Bureau gets funded yearly $5 million from the City. Couldn’t we get a few of the broken stop lights mentioned above fixed for that price? The only result of this effort, as far as I can tell, was the installation of the free trolley looping on Alton Rd and West Ave. This trolley, of course, doesn’t help pedestrians one bit as it gets stuck in traffic just like all other vehicles and just adds to the total amount of pollution.

Alton Road trolley stuck in traffic like everyone else. No pedestrians in sight - I wonder why?

Alton Road trolley stuck in traffic like everyone else. No pedestrians in sight – I wonder why?

 

What the City wants you to think Alton Road looks like

Alton Road Miami Beach

What Alton Road really looks like

Alton Road Miami Beach

 

Given the above, you can imagine my astonishment when the City of Miami Beach’s Director of Transportation, Jose Gonzalez, whom I contacted regarding the lack of pedestrian safety, writes to me that “please be assured that the City and FDOT are working collaboratively to help improve livability during this difficult construction period. ” And just what, Jose, are FDOT and the City doing? Because, I’m not seeing any of it, when I run past those taped traffic lights, you know.

The current situation also means that pedestrians cannot access businesses on Alton Rd. The businesses, which are already suffering from a loss of customer base since the FDOT Alton Rd project, are thus further losing clientele. The complete list of businesses killed by the FDOT project is a subject of a future post.

I’d like to close by reminding our government that “The car never bought anything” -Morris Lapidus. A city that cannot be navigated by foot, is a dead city as far as I am concerned. No people – no children – just cars (and trolleys), pollution, traffic jams, and broken traffic lights? Welcome to Miami Beach.

 

Pedestrians in Miami Beach jaywalk. You see them crossing intersection guerilla-style, ignoring red lights, ignoring oncoming traffic, ignoring all traffic laws that clearly state that “pedestrians may not cross between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation.” Here are some jaywalkers I have caught in the act, strutting their smug pedestrians selves surly across the street. You can clearly see the red light is showing for them.

 

Pedestrians Jaywalking Miami Beach

Pedestrians Jaywalking Miami Beach


Why do they do this?

Are they in such a rush that they cannot wait for “their turn” to cross the street? They are walking, so they cannot be *that* concerned about reaching their destination quickly. Is it to piss off drivers? To make them slow down, inconvenience them in their arduous commute home or to the office by having to slightly tap their break pedal?  Are they trying to educate Miami drivers to look up from their cell phones, set aside their mascara, and be more alert to their surroundings?If so, they are doing this at the risk of their own life. Is educating South Florida drivers really worth paying for…with your life? Why are these pedestrians stepping into traffic, dangerously exposing themselves to oncoming motor vehicles?

IMAG1971

 

The Answer.

A little bit of context goes a long way at explaining what is really happening. At both intersections pictured above (Alton RD & 13th St and Lincoln & West, respectively), pedestrians have to wait 3 minutes to get a green sign. Then, they get 20 (!) seconds to cross. Now, 3 minutes may not seem like a lot. But these are 3 minutes of loud, smelly, stinky traffic zooming by you. And after you diligently waited for your turn, the countdown for you to rush over starts a few second after you set foot into the street. To put it in perspective, you have to wait 9 times as long as the time you are allotted to cross. How’s that for making a pedestrian feel like an equal participant in the road usage? The answer is, and very clearly to the pedestrian, that the pedestrian is NOT as important as the vehicle traffic passing by. That the pedestrian is an inconvenience that needs to be begrudgingly dealt with, and removed as soon as possible.

So there, since we are such an inconvenience, we efface ourselves from these streets as fast as we can. We run across intersections. We don’t want to force a red light on anyone so we take our chance and rush. I have never seen as many running, nervous pedestrians as in the USA. And I lived in Paris. But it’s here, in the US, where pedestrians truly feel like they should not be here. Because that is how these streets, these traffic signals make us feel. They tell us, you’re not worth it. Go away. You’re stopping traffic. So, we jaywalk.

And just for fun, term “jaywalking” originated in Chicago. It is “a derogatory slang word that was coined, in part, by local auto clubs and dealers, which was an attempt to redefine streets as places where pedestrians do not belong. Automotive interests used these propaganda campaigns to put the blame on pedestrians who walked in the streets and crossed them whenever and wherever they wished, which was the same way they had done for centuries before the automobile became popular.” (Source: http://www.coyelawaccidentcenter.com/jaywalking-laws-in-florida.html)

 

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How living in Miami Beach used to make me smile…

That was – until FDOT took control of Alton Rd, hijacked West Avenue, a formerly quiet residential Boulevard, and dumped thousand of trucks, busses, taxis, and motorcycles right in front of our homes for the duration of over 1 year, turning it into an urban superhighway.
Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

Act 1

March 2013.

As soon as the mega-project was announced, I contacted the City of Miami Beach and FDOT to inquire about what their plans were to mitigate all the traffic and what their plans were for pedestrian safety. The aide to then-mayor Matti Bower, Gabrielle Redfern, took the time to respond.

The mayor is also concerned about how this construction will effect traffic. The City has done its best to work with FDOT to make the project as painless to the residents as possible. Please continue to share your thoughts with the mayor. Your feelings are very important to her.”

I felt emboldened and encouraged that the mayor cared about my feelings. But what was their plan for pedestrian safety?

Act 2

November 2013.

When FDOT started reconfiguring West Ave to 2 Southbound lanes in late 2013 I reported several noise complaint to the City. For some reason FDOT thought it was a good idea to tear open the street to remove those traffic lines in the middle at 4am. I sent a few angry emails about the nighttime noise to Heather Leslie, FDOT’s Public Information Specialist. Her answer went,

The current nighttime work is to restripe West Avenue from 17 Street to 6 Street in order to prepare for the next phase of work on Alton Road. The contractor is completing this work at night because the striping operation requires lane closures and potential detours. We understand the ongoing work has been difficult, and the team will continue to do its best to mitigate the inconveniences.

Where apparently, “mitigating the inconveniences” means “occasionally answering your emails”.  The city never answered to these complaints.
It turns out, that nighttime noise was going to be the least of our problems. As soon as the traffic was re-routed to West Ave that November, it was as though the gates of hell had opened and unleashed previously unknown amounts of nightmarish traffic, noise, and pollution onto West Ave. At the same time, there was no enforcement of speed limits of any sort or any kind of traffic calming for pedestrians. We were left to fend for ourselves. The residents of my condominium quickly gathered at the face of this danger. We contacted the City and FDOT again. A neighbor sent the following email:

I live at 13th and West Avenue.  I am a Senior Records Clerk for a local Police Department and my wife is employed a a local Hospital as a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit.  We have two daughters under the age of 2.  We have lived at the same address for over 10 years.  West Avenue is not the same roadway as when we first began living here.   There have been so many occasions where my family have sat at the crosswalk on West Ave and 14th Street as car after car passes us by, not so much as giving us a glance.  Recently, I entered the crosswalk and an oncoming vehicle southbound did not slow down.  I had to throw my daughter behind me and scream at the top of my lungs for a car to stop in the far left lane.  When he did, he actually gave me the finger and told me to get out of the way.  My wife and I no longer cross West Avenue at all.  It is not the same for my family, let alone the other many families who live in the area, or the many elderly citizens who frequent this intersection.  I watch from my balcony as cars fly by, not yielding whatsoever to pedestrians who have the right of way.  Now that southbound West Avenue has been increased to two lanes it is more dangerous than ever.  Without a stoplight, or a speed bump of some kind, it is without question that it is a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed at that intersection.

This seemed to have gotten FDOT’s attention. A meeting was scheduled for December. Heather Leslie, Enrique Tamayo,  Amanda Shotton, and Ivan Hay from FDOT as well as Lynn Bernstein from the City met us in front of our building on West Ave. Ivan remarked how he could never live here (no wonder). That day they actually witnessed a girl nearly getting hit that morning at the intersection. They all agreed it was unsafe. FDOT then conducted a traffic study and determined that a stop light was needed on 14th and flashing lights were needed on 9th and 12th Streets. After this was determined a whole lot of nothing happened for a whole lot of time.

Act 3

May 2014.

I keep emailing Heather once every month to ask for updates. And then, just 6 months after meeting FDOT….
BAM! We have FLASHING PEDESTRIAN CROSSING SIGNS!!
Pedestrian Signs! Flashing!

Pedestrian Signs! Flashing!

I feel as excited about this basic safety improvement as I would for the fanciest Birthday gift! Finally, our concerns were heard and the powers that be show that they actually care…or do they?

Still nothing has happened on 13th Street or 14th Streets. Ms Leslie has informed me that “The final design plans for the temporary signal at 14 Street have been completed and the materials are currently being procured. The light will be installed once the materials arrive. As discussed, these pedestrian features require engineering plans, as well as the coordination with the various agencies.“) . I emailed FDOT a link to some traffic calming devices on Amazon, for $1600 and asked why they couldn’t just buy one of those but I guess they were not amused by that suggestion.

 

Epilogue

I never heard from the newly elected mayor Mr. Levine, but judging from his Facebook account he is busy meeting celebrities or running in Washington DC.
I’ve never seen police give tickets for nearly running over pedestrians on West Ave. And yet, this happens all day, every day. There is a police officer parked on 17th St and West which is great but that is just one intersection of many on West, and in my opinion not the busiest one for pedestrians.
We have an older lady in our building who leaves the house with a little walking stick so she can threaten cars who do not cede to her passing.
When I cross I am usually wave like a lunatic at those cute little “Stop for Pedestrians” sign in the hope of getting drivers to look up from their cell phones, into my face.
Why is it that we cannot have some adequate traffic enforcement and traffic calming to ensure people do not DIE on the streets of our “world-class” city?

 

Miami’s drivers are not exactly known for their courteous behavior towards cyclists. But who’s to blame for the road rage? An excess amount of colada in their veins? A lack of (driver) education? Insufficient law enforcement? Too much sun perhaps? It’s probably a combination of all of the above…along with the general apathy towards the right to life of other humans who happen to sit on bicycle. Cyclists are frequently perceived as “entitled” or “arrogant” just because they insist on that pesky right of “sharing the road” (without getting killed).  Miami’s Critical Mass does not help much to dispel that notion. There is a definite sense of cyclists and pedestrians being second-class citizens on the road. This cute peek-a-boo road sign in Miami Beach illustrates the attitude well:

Bicycle Sign Miami Beach

Peek-a-boo

Bicycle Sign Miami Beach

..I see you!





This sign seems to say: yeah, there may be bikes out there, sort of watch out for them but don’t go out of your way. Just as the government won’t go out of their way to accommodate for them and install proper signage that is lighted and visible (and bike lanes painted in bright colors…OK I am dreaming now).

Now imagine a sign on I-95 alerting drivers of upcoming exits being hidden in this fashion. Wouldn’t that be rather unsettling? And we are comparing someone missing an exit vs. a human being potentially getting killed by an inadvertent driver here. It’s time to get our priorities straight.

 

FDOT Collins

When the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that they were simultaneously performing major road work on Miami Beach’s two main thoroughfares, Collins Ave and Alton Road, most beach residents shook their heads in disbelief. Was it really wise to shut down half of Collins Ave from summer 2013 – 2014 (1 year) and also detour all of Alton Road’s southbound traffic to West Ave during the same time and beyond (2013 – 2015)? After all, these are the main roads that allow tourists, trucks, busses, and locals to navigate Miami Beach from it’s Southern tip towards the Middle and North areas. Not to mention, there are major events happening during the winter months, from Art Basel, South Beach Wine and Food Festival, the Boat Show to NYE, something is always happening that requires people to, well, drive to the beach since there is no public transportation to Miami Beach to speak of. Some locals worried about a “carmaggedon” and started pressuring the city government and FDOT to provide some better alternatives for those who need to get in and out of Miami Beach.

Little did those worriers know about FDOT’s master scheme. You see, FDOT is not simply blind to the traffic gridlock that hit Miami Beach since the construction started. Neither are FDOT’s engineers and project managers insensitive to local’s concerns over pollution and congestion. In fact, FDOT is simply helping us out by finally providing ample parking spaces that were badly needed. Everyone knows that parking in Miami Beach is a mess. Now, you no longer need to hunt around the beach looking for that elusive spot, only to find that it’s in a Tow Away Zone (don’t mess with Beach Towing). Simply drive to Miami Beach, and conventiently park your car right on West Ave.

FDOT West Ave

Convenient Parking right on Miami Beach thanks to FDOT

FDOT West Ave

Safe during day and night, just park and go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From here, you can explore the area, dine in one of our neighborhood restaurants, and take a pleasant walk (don’t mind the smell of exhausts, or do like Sarah Palin and learn to simply love the smell of it).

If you like, you could also park right on Venetian Causeway (as mentioned in yesterday’s post), this comes in handy during those busy weekends when you just cannot wait to get to your event and simply need to park right away.

FDOT Miami Beach

Ample Parking on the Venetian Causeway

The great thing is that your car will be in the exact same spot even hours later.

Best of all? The parking is completely FREE of charge! (Residents agreed to chip in a bit by putting up with a the extra noise and pollution, but what is that compared to FREE PARKING in Miami Beach??)

Isn’t that something to be grateful for? Little by little, FDOT is not only fixing our streets, but is also addressing our parking problem without the need to hire any starchitects at all, just using our existing, previously underused, streetscape. Now, if that was not a stroke of genius, I don’t know what is. Thank You, FDOT!

 

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. It was reprinted on TransitMiami.com with expressed written consent from the Author and the Editor of Better! Cities & Towns. 

Miami Beach takes Infrastructure Beyond Gray

Claudia Kousoulas, Better! Cities & Towns

When cities invest in infrastructure, it’s often the gray stuff like roads and bridges. Or it’s hidden away like water and sewer pipes. Not to say that infrastructure isn’t interesting and vital to a city’s success, but it’s hard to get excited about.

But in Miami Beach, where everything seems to be more colorful and dramatic than most American cities, the latest round of infrastructure investments combine flamboyance and function. The city’s parking garages are featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lebron James is a fan of its bikeshare system, and the expanding network of streetscape and trail improvements weave the city together, from beach to bay.

“It is a coordinated effort,” says Richard Lorber, acting planning director. “Decobike has become a part of the city and we’ve incorporated it into our transportation thinking.” Likewise with streetscape improvements; despite initial concern about losing on-street parking spaces, residents recognize that the curb bump-outs, streetscaping, and landscaping add value to their properties.

High-style parking garages

Miami Beach has gotten the most press coverage for its public and private parking garages and in fact has set a new standard for not only garage design, but their integration with streets and city life. Architects whose names are usually attached to symphony halls and art museums are undertaking what used to be a pretty dull commission.

Zaha Hadid’s proposed parking garage with swooping overhang atop a pedestrian space typifies Miami Beach’s stylish and fun approach to infrastructure

Herzog and deMeuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road garage functions equally as a party space, a retail anchor, and parking garage. Enrique Norten’s refined Park @420 pulls Lincoln Road’s retail activity around the corner, while Arquitectonica’s Purdy Avenue garage is also a retail anchor for Sunset Harbor, an emerging mixed-use neighborhood. Frank Gehry’s public garage, sheathed in steel mesh recalling his signature chain link, is lit to drift through a color palette that mirrors Miami sunsets. Zaha Hadid is proposing a structure that will swoop over a street and create a pedestrian plaza.

The trend toward high style garages began in 1995 with Arquitectonica’s Ballet Valet garage. The client, developer Tony Goldman who would go on to develop the Wynwood Arts District, spotted an opportunity on this neglected stretch of Collins Avenue. One block in from the beach and surrounded by clubs and hotels, the garage’s retail base kick-started redevelopment. Popularly known as the Chia Pet garage, Arquitectonica’s screen of plants became a local landmark.

Ballet Valet garage, designed by Arquitectonica

Unlike the usual approach to garage design, which seeks to hide parking behind a liner building or false front, newer garages celebrate their position in our lives and communities. Most use texture, color, and pattern to create visual elegance. Herzog and De Meuron’s garage uses the drama of space and movement. Views shift and drop; every floor creates a different experience. From the outside, the blade-edged concrete slabs hover over dramatic skies and palm trees. Hadid’s proposed design is a modernist approach to the experience of moving through space.

Roger Howie of Hadid’s office says, “A simple premise of how to bring the street into the building guided our initial studies which then progressed into an expressed, continuous vehicular circulation path which provides a unique, even fun, experience for the user.”

But the designs also mediate between the car and the pedestrian. From an urban point of view, their relationship to the street is most important. Some, like Park@420, rely on a simple retail base, others like 1111 draw pedestrians in to experience the space. As well as retail, Hadid’s design includes an urban plaza and features stairs to create a gateway along the Collins Park axis. This sounds more like urban design than transportation engineering.

As well as experiments with screen and structure, the function of these garages is part of their design and economics. They are not places you would park and leave. You could spend the whole evening at 1111—from a sunset drink at the rooftop restaurant, on to dinner, then shopping and people watching in the plaza. Likewise, Arquitectonica’s Purdy Avenue seeks to combine design and function to transcend typical parking garage. “The idea was to create a hub of activity for residents and locals, a place to eat, exercise, and shop—with parking,” says Wendy Chernin of the Scott Robins Companies who worked with the city in a public-private partnership to build the project.

The varying floor heights, almost invisible steel cable fencing, and concrete slabs of 1111 Lincoln Road upend the notion of the parking garage as something to be hidden.

Decobike Cruises In

Miami Beach has added 2,741 new spaces with these garages, but the city’s approach is also multi-modal. Decobike has been operating in the city since 2011. In 2012 it expanded north to the Town of Surfside and is poised to cross the Biscayne Bay causeways into the City of Miami. On the beach, Decobike has achieved the best bike-to-resident ratio in North America, with the highest station distribution per square mile nationally. Each of the 1,000 bikes is used four to five times a day, one of the highest use rates in the country.

Decobike founders Colby Reese and Bonifacio Diaz first experienced bikeshare in Paris and Barcelona.
“We were amazed by the amount of usage on the systems. From there, it became a “green business concept that we fell in love with,” said Reese.

When the City of Miami Beach issued a request for proposals, Decobike responded with proposed locations based on their business model and use estimates. Lorber says that the city worked with them to approve the proposed locations or find appropriate alternatives.  He points out that the system was initially approved without advertising on the bikes or docks, but Decobike has since requested to place ads.

“We’re not thrilled with the ads, but worked with them again to find appropriate locations,” says Lorber. “Decobike is so well loved and so important, we want them to have a healthy financial viability.”

There were initial reservations about use. Why would anyone use this service if they already owned a bicycle? But as Reese points out, with bikeshare there are no worries about theft or maintenance. And a well-distributed and stocked bike dock network makes Decobike convenient. Reese notes that once the docks were installed, they also adjusted rental and membership options to meet the demands of residents and visitors.

There was also some concern about turning over on-street parking spaces to bike docks, but the popularity of the system and a slew of new parking garages calmed those concerns. As Reese notes, using a parking space for 20 bikes that turn over four to five times a day is a more efficient use of public space.

Reese and Diaz recount these sensible planner answers, but neglect to mention just how much fun Decobike can be. Miami Beach is a flat city, with great weather and ocean views. A grid street pattern provides plenty of routes for commuting or sightseeing.

And just as the parking garages are a system designed to provide access, so is Decobike. Its expansion north into Surfside was the next step in expanding farther north to Haulover Park and west into the Town of Bay Harbor Islands. Duncan Tavares, planner for the Town of Surfside, says residents and businesses supported bikeshare from the start, and after smoothing some concerns about liability and location, so did elected officials.

Expanding Streetscape and Trails

Even within its street grid, the city is upgrading its network of trails and street paths for efficiency, safety, and pleasure. The city’s 2007 Atlantic Greenway Network Plan strived to establish routes that make local and regional bicycle and walking connections. Now that the State of Florida no longer allows wooden structures on the beach, each redevelopment or capital improvement completes another link. The overall effort re-engineers walking and cycling into car-oriented streets and public spaces.

The Atlantic Greenway Network path runs north-south along the beach as a poured concrete path with a trademark wave pattern paving, providing recreation and transportation connections.

While the Atlantic Greenway Network Plan makes beach to bay connections and runs along the beachfront, the City also considers neighborhood function and aesthetics in its streetscape improvements. The South Pointe Master Plan identifies 13 neighborhoods for a planned progress program of streetscape improvements. The plan works from eight typologies that include curb bump-outs, tree grates, lighting, shade trees, and what everyone wants to see when they come to Miami—palm trees.

As the city works its way through each neighborhood, citizens help develop a “basis of design” report that identifies designs and applications unique to each neighborhood. The resulting improvements, says Lorber, encourage people to walk by creating safe and comfortable streets for pedestrians and by corralling cars, but also include stormwater and drainage improvements.

The blocks south of Fifth Street now include a mix of housing, from single-family to high-rise, fronting walkable streets made pedestrian-friendly with landscaping, paving, curb bumpouts, and crosswalks.

While many of these designs take on a particular tropical style, they are also lessons for other communities. Garages that become landmarks and destinations, a continuing commitment to transportation alternatives and trail connections, and streetscape that adds value on every corner don’t need palm trees to be successful.

Claudia Kousoulas is a freelance writer and an urban planner with the Montgomery County Maryland Planning Department, where she blogs on The Straight Line.

 

May is National Bike Month. Biking is seeing a nationwide resurgence due to aggressive policies aimed to promote cycling, and as cities and towns in South Florida join the fold by increasing bike infrastructure, now is a particularly good time to bike in the Miami area. If you have a bike that needs a tune up or have been thinking about buying a two-wheeler for a while May is the perfect month to do so!

The bike is up there with man’s greatest inventions. It extends the range one can travel considerably, all while burning no fuel and providing excellent cardiovascular and exercise benefits. In urban traffic conditions, the bike is comparable with cars and public transportation on short/medium trips. One can usually bike around 5 miles in half an hour, which compares quite well with driving that distance under normal traffic conditions, and certainly with taking public transportation (particularly when having to walk to and wait for the bus).

All buses in Miami Dade and Broward County are outfitted with bike extensions. This opens up the possibility of using the bicycle as part of a multimodal trip. If you take multiple rides on your commute, consider biking to replace part of the trip, saving time, money, and enjoying the many exercise benefits of riding.

Of course, going from theory to practice can take some work, so here are some things to consider before hitting the road.

Things you’ll need to bike on the road:

A helmet: it’s not required for those older than 16, it’s usually not comfortable, but it is worth it. Most serious injuries and bike fatalities can be prevented by the simple use of a helmet.

Lights: White for the front, red for the back. Try to get removable ones so they don’t get stolen.

Bell: A loud bell will come in handy, particularly if you are biking on a mixture of roads and sidewalks.

In most places, these common sense accessories are legally required.

If you have never biked in traffic there are easy ways to ease into it. Always stay on the right side of the road. While riding your bike you are legally considered a car and need to obey all traffic laws, stop signs, and lights. Take advantage of the grid and bike down calmer less trafficked streets where possible. Familiarize yourself with the areas in which you want to bike and test out different routes.

One of the frustrating things about biking in the area is that most good bike lanes come to an end at major thoroughfares or ends of towns. But, with a few exceptions, most municipalities in South Florida allow for biking on the sidewalk. Google maps now has an option for bike directions, and smartphone users can use maps to figure out where they are and see which minor trafficked and low speed-limit streets they can take to reach their destinations.

If you don’t have a bike, you can take advantage of low-cost subscriptions to cycle hires like DecoBike in Miami Beach, and B-cycles in Broward County. I would still suggest taking a helmet with you if you plan to use one on the road. These bike systems also make use of smartphone GSP apps, with the deco bike app allowing you to see where you can rent/return bikes. The beauty of this is the short utility trip to the grocery store or other quick stop that would be too short for a car trip but a bit too far to walk. The bike serves as a great equalizer between walking and transit. So if you have been thinking of exercising, cutting down on car/transportation costs, and see the bike as an option I highly suggest giving it a try during this National Bike Month.

Ride safe!

 

 
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