There was a time when I lived in south Florida and it was from 1989 to 1997. I started in Fort Lauderdale and worked my way up to West Palm Beach before settling in Boynton Beach. I worked in Miami as a route driver for our family-owned coffee distribution company and we had customers from Cutler Ridge to Port St. Lucie. I remember the Huffy I used to commute to work and the drives up and down I-95.
Going back to south Florida this past weekend was an informative and enlightening experience, mixed with recollection and resolve. The main reason to spend six days in Florida’s Gold Coast was to attend meetings and events with Steve Clark, the League of American Bicyclist’s (LAB) Bicycle Friendly Community Specialist. I sat with officials from Broward County; I rode with the City of Sunrise Mayor and staff; and I met with members of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club and the Delray Beach Bicycle Club when Andy Clarke, President of LAB, came to town to discuss local issues in person. I saw first-hand what the League is looking for when qualifying Bicycle Friendly Communities and where the League sees the future for cyclists as a whole.
Sandwiched between the LAB meetings was a significant gathering on Saturday at Mack Cycle in South Miami. On January 21, two cyclists on Crandon Boulevard were hit by a drunk driver, killing one and seriously injuring the other. An arrest has been made and a full news report of the crash can be found here. The gathering on Saturday, hosted by Mack Cycle and the Everglades Bicycle Club, gave the local cycling community an opportunity to discuss concerns in an open forum.
It’s sad to note how this very association was founded on similar terms, and yet, for not knowing personally the ones who died, I felt the connection. I witnessed how emotion and motivation that comes from tragedy can create not only outcry, but also a means to problem-solve. I saw and heard a move past blame and towards solution. South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard rode his bicycle to the gathering and was interviewed by local news affiliates as he expressed his support for positive change.
It was a lot to take in and think about driving back to Fort Lauderdale. On Sunday, I decided to take a little ‘me time’ with my Dahon Espresso 26″ folding bike (thank you FBA) and ride a trail I had not been on for over 20 years.
John Prince Park was my go-to for a ride on my day off. The views of Lake Osbourne always relieved the stress from all those miles spent on I-95.
I would make a day of it. I packed a lunch and spent at least three hours riding 30 miles. This Sunday, I made a “camera day” of it, taking photos of bike and nature while riding 20 miles.
I even found time for a nap shot self-portrait.
Bicycling means so many things to so many different people. Sunday, it was meditative. I’ve given speeches on health, safety, trail etiquette, commuting and courtesy and wonder if there is anything bicycling embraces that doesn’t improve quality of life.
My takeaway from south Florida is hope. And a few photos with a few Mayors. In fact, I’m going to start collecting Mayors who support bicycling photos.