Surprise! Miami is getting people out of cars!
Today we welcome guest blogger Herb Hiller:
South Florida is vital to bicycling because bicycling figures large in transportation. Governor Bob Graham in 1980 made that connection when he hired Dan Burden as Florida’s first bicycle coordinator. That was the year after construction began on the Miami Metrorail. Graham put Dan in DOT [Department of Transportation], not in recreation and parks.
That history resonates freshly this fall when Dan returns for the five-day WHEELS mega-event.
WHEELS, November 11-15, chaired pro bono by town planner Victor Dover, will feature a Family Fun Day and safety training with a first-ever South Miami Bike-in Street Party. It will honor turn-of-the-20th Century Miami bicycling heroes and present new strategies for how walking, cycling, transit and trails combine to get people out of cars.
Activities include more than 20 planned DIY and guided rides – some mass, some along Florida’s longest trail network — plus a conference, free passes for transit riders with bikes and giveaways for everyone that pre-registers at www.wheelsflorida.org.
Dan, director of innovation and inspiration for Blue Zones, will speak. So will keynoter Ryan Gravel for the Atlanta Beltline, recently retired LAB President Andy Clarke, and East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA) Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano. Dan returns to Miami after decades of sprawl and auto-only roads that have led to notorious congestion that brakes the metro economy. A recent article about traffic woes in the Miami Herald was headlined “NO WAY OUT”.
Yet downtown and close-in towns are enjoying a resurgence, and cycling and transit have exploded in popularity. Miami has become Florida’s lab for green mobility with cycling dead-center in the mix.
In her first interview as director of Miami-Dade Transit, Alice Bravo in July spoke to the Miami New Times about Millennials shunning cars and riding transit. “It’ll take time,” Bravo said, “but we have to take advantage of this enthusiasm to make Miami a car-optional city one day.”
That vision of Miami already last year led ECGA to schedule its fall membership summit in South Miami and locate a program there aimed to get people out of cars walking, cycling, riding transit and using trails – South Miami because it’s the one Florida city where commuter rail and a section of the greenway run directly through downtown. ECGA leaders will fly into MIA, ride the Orange Line to lodgings in Dadeland, use bikes from Mack Cycle for getting around, and reverse field without need for cars at all.
Also add this to Miami’s empowering bicycling legacy:
- In 1886, America’s leading bicycling advocate, Kirk Munroe who co-founded the League of American Wheelmen (today’s LAB), moved to Coconut Grove, where he continued to ride his bike for 30 years. His Cocoplum neighbor, dairy farmer Wilson Larkins, twice a day pedaled seven miles with milk tanks strapped to his bike for guests at Henry Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel. Larkins founded the city of South Miami that first bore his name. South Miami today boasts one of Florida’s most far-reaching green mobility plans that Victor led.
- In the 1950s, cycling advocates in Homestead started the Wheelmen’s Winter Rendezvous that brought Americans to tour the Redland. President Dwight Eisenhower’s heart doctor Paul Dudley White came to ride. From a Homestead platform he extolled the health benefits of cycling to Americans everywhere.
- In the 1970s, I wrote to Linda Crider in the Graham administration about re-starting the Florida bicycling movement. Linda went on to start Florida Bicycle Association and Bike Florida. She and I will speak at one WHEELS program led by eminent historian Arva Moore Parks and fellow historian Pam Lahiff. King Mango Strut Founder Glenn Terry will lead the vintage bike parade that will honor Munroe and Larkins. Meg Daly will tell everyone about the Underline, Dale Allen about SUN Trails, Becky Afonso about Florida Bicycle Association’s South Florida awakening, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Ken Bryan about rail-with-trail as part of All Aboard Florida, Maria Nardi of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces about Miami trails expanding in all directions. Jim Smith of SAFE [Safety As Floridians Expect] will reveal extraordinary green mobility contracts that developers sign in hopes for building in Delray Beach.
Miami, South Miami, their history and the trends that drive them also drive the WHEELS promise that history can be self-empowering, and that self-empowered people can improve their lives by varied transportation choices. Despite the sprawl and congestion, bicycling has helped Miami get things right for more than a hundred years.
Herb Hiller of DeLand is a longtime figure in the Florida trail and cycling movements. He is also the coordinator of WHEELS, southeast region program consultant to the East Coast Greenway Alliance and member of Florida Bicycle Association Advisory Board. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association share a common cause in bicycle education for residents and visitors to the Sunshine “Bike-Ped” State. Share the Road license plate proceeds benefit Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association to further these bicycle educational efforts. What’s on your motor vehicle? Get the Share the Road license plate!
Did you know Rejjee is the only nation-wide multi-product registry and crowd sourced Lost & Found that includes discount product replacement offers on bicycles? Rejjee also supports Florida Bicycle Association and FBA supports Rejjee.
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