The one & only. "@MiamiUrbanist Rydel Deed: Speed Demon (aka @miamibikescene) http://t.co/P1a1CeQG …" #bikeMIA #cycling
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When Rydel Deed began biking around Miami in 2006, drivers stared as if he'd wandered off the nude beach in Haulover. When he invited others to join him later that year in Miami's first Critical Mass ride, fewer than a dozen took him up on the offer.
Flash forward to this past September, when Dwyane Wade made headlines around the world by posting an Instagram pic of himself and his movie-star girlfriend Gabrielle Union cycling in downtown Miami amid thousands of other Critical Mass riders.
"That was a big deal," Deed says. "For someone who's never considered riding a bike in the streets of Miami before, seeing Wade taking part in something like that is a big message."
Miami's bike culture didn't go from one of the most anemic in the Western Hemisphere to the hippest in town overnight, though. It took years of work from a hard-core crew of bike-loving fanatics like Deed, founder of the blog The Miami Bike Scene and de facto organizer of the monthly Critical Mass.
"When we started, biking was so not Miami. It just wasn't cool here," he says. "Now, finally, it's different."
Deed, who was born in Cuba but grew up in Westchester after his family immigrated to Miami in the early '80s, began riding bikes when he was a little kid. But not until around 2006 did he really start pedaling around the city.
His big awakening came the next year, when he traveled to Chicago and rode with Critical Mass, the national movement that aims to raise awareness of cycling by taking over city streets en masse with monthly rides. He was amazed to see thousands of people biking together.
"Seeing that in person made me realize how much more we could do in Miami."
So Deed started The Miami Bike Scene and began hyping regular rides. For the first year, they averaged only about 30 people. It wasn't until 2009 that a hundred riders came out.
Now he regularly rides with more than 2,000 people the last Friday of each month. Yet no one knows better than Deed that Miami still has a long way to go to become a true bike mecca — from more bike lanes to increased tolerance from drivers. But there's also no question that the city's attitude has changed in just five years.
"With the weather and the flat terrain and the beaches, Miami should be a great bike town. It's a shame it's taken so long," he says, "but I do think we're heading in the right direction."
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