On Sunday, September 27, the City of Miami held another of its monthly Bike Miami Rides, this one around the Miami Upper East Side, and we made our way there to join in. It helped that the starting point was actually not that far from our house, which allowed us to ride to and from the event.
Riding from the Beach, through North Bay Village, then down Biscayne was a good warm up for the event. For the most part we rode on the street and thankfully found that drivers did what they were supposed to do, passing us on the next lane when available, with enough space when there was only one lane (it’s hard to judge the 3 feet distance while riding, but at least no one came really close). On Biscayne we did ride on the sidewalk; at least on the way down to the event I was still a bit apprehensive of that main thoroughfare. On the way down we passed a bunch of Lycra speedsters (from the Everglades Bicycle Club, I think). I waved but no one waved back.
We met at Legion Park, on Biscayne Blvd and NE 65 St, at around 9 AM. There were about 35 riders present, including Lycra-clad roadsters, three parents riding with their kids on the bikes, and leisure riders, not to mention the five bike cops that joined us for the ride. It was a good mix of people, ranging from the really experienced roadsters to leisure-only riders looking to do more on their bikes.
The ride began with Bike Miami coordinator Kathryn Moore introducing the concept of the Bike Miami Rides and going through the Florida bicycle laws that all riders need to know. After a group photo, we took off into the Miami Upper East Side!
We started by exploring a bit of the east side of Biscayne Blvd, finding a small bayside park by NE 69 St that pretty much none of us knew was there! We joined Biscayne again then went into Bayshore area just off NE 79 St, an area I pass by on a daily basis yet have never explored at all. Big and old Miami houses back there, it almost felt like another world, another city. We then headed down NE 2 Ave into Little Haiti and Lemon City, one of the oldest parts of Miami (stretching back to the founding of the city and of the original Biscayne neighborhood). We twisted around Little Haiti, even running alongside I-95 for a while till we made it into the Midtown area.
It was around here that we found a tiny kitten on the street. Wanna talk about what can stop 35 bicyclists on a dime? After some fussing and fawning, one of the guys from Federal Bike Depot said he would take her (it was a calico kitten), and I carried her in my bike basket for the reminder of the ride. It was like having my own bike alarm!
I had a lot of fun on this ride, even if I was the only one riding a singlespeed bike and thus ended up at the back of the group every so often. The cops riding with us were very helpful, herding us across some intersections and red lights in order to keep the group together (this isn’t proper road bicycling practice, but it was welcomed). A couple of times cars honked at us or tried to get funny with the cyclists until they noticed the cops riding along; it was amusing, but in general it shows the ignorance of many Miami drivers. Heck, we even had a Metrobus try to cut us off, even with the bike cops in clear view! It actually ended up splitting the group in two for a short while.
The riders were fantastic and behaved great all throughout the ride. There were a couple of times when I saw a few people riding for short distances without any hands on the handlebar, which is illegal in Florida, though at least no one (that I noticed) rode with earphones on. There was one rider clad in blue Lycra that I noticed more than a few times doing things that were completely against the whole educational point of this ride, like passing on the right, blowing through intersections without slowing down, and riding away from the group. Still, one out of almost 40 isn’t bad at all. Likewise, there were no accidents. There was one guy whose folding bike just locked up (he was picked up by the Federal Bike Depot guys in their pickup) and at one red light, a lady with her son in a bike seat lost her balance when taking off and fell down; the boy was fine and only got a minor scratch on his elbow, which he completely forgot about 10 minutes later.
We hung out at the entrance of Legion Park for a bit afterward. Debbie Attias filmed a few people for a post she wrote for Youth Noise, I passed out copies of Issue #5 of The Practical Pedal, and Bike Miami Days was promoted to all. We then invaded Le Cafe (on Biscayne Blvd and NE 73 St) for an after-ride brunch. We had something to drink and chatted for a while before heading out back home to prep for Yom Kippur.
It was a fantastic day out and I loved every moment of the ride. I would love to go on more of these kinds of rides to explore other areas of the city (frankly, there were areas that I would have never gone through had it not been for this ride). The company was great and it was just awesome seeing so many people slow bicycling around the city. Thanks to all involved in putting this together for a very enjoyable time.
Check out photos from this ride in the slideshow below or at Flickr: Bike Miami Ride – 09/28/09 – Miami’s Upper East Side set.