Biking in Miami: All for One & One (Road) for All
February 4, 2016
Traffic. It stops, it goes, someone honks at you because you took one second too long to step on the gas, and then it stops and goes a little more. We are inevitably a society filled with cities whose major thoroughfares get flooded with single passenger cars during those lovely hours every morning and evening, Monday through Friday, that we refer to as ‘rush hour’. No one likes traffic. I have yet to meet someone who lists sitting in traffic as an activity they enjoy. It is most definitely never making it on my list.
But when I arrived in Miami and realized that I would be working two miles away from work, you have no idea how overwhelmed with excitement I was. I could bike to work…this was freaking amazing! But then I started noticing something. As I drove through the Miami streets, bike lanes seemed almost non-existent. Aside from that, when I did see someone commuting via bike, vehicles in traffic left the rules of the road and any other courtesy behind. Cars here didn’t seem to want to share the road with anyone, let alone a bike that wasn’t moving fast enough. I started to get a sinking feeling of discouragement about the outlook of being able to bike in Miami. Coming from another city, Seattle, which by no means was perfect but was at least supportive of biking as a transportation option for commuters. I was kind of let down. Yeah it is hot here so that’s a draw back to biking, but umm it is flat, making Miami ideal for an easy ride.
So here we are Miami, commuting in our cars, which sucks almost any time of the day, wherever you are going (yeah, I’ve learned that much in a month). If we made biking safer in the city, it could alleviate some traffic woes. I know there isn’t just one fix to making traffic better in this city but it does seem to be a topic more folks are taking notice of. Miami is getting its first green bike lane (WHOOOO!). Talks of creating alternative bike and pedestrian only routes are happening. But ultimately none of this matters if as a community Miami does not become supportive of the bikers already on the road. The risk-takers, the trail blazers, who are trying to pave the way for scaredy-cats like me, who currently fear Miami drivers.
So here is my request, as a newbie to Miami desperately wanting to bike as much as possible: please be a little more mindful when behind the wheel, double check for bikers. When we are present give us space (3ft, it is the law just incase you didn’t know). Be okay with driving at a slower pace to make it safer for everyone, and put down the phone. And try your best to not get infuriated at the biker slowing you down, because ultimately they are trying to do you a favor and make for one less car on the road.