Since the moment El Tremenda Mierda first lit up in victory, Miamians have been bemoaning the parking fiasco surrounding Marlins Park. Five thousand parking spots for a 37,000-seat stadium makes for a major math problem.
But perhaps the park's planners had a little more in mind than a bumper to bumper chain of gas-guzzling, exhaust-spewing cars leading the way to center field.
They did, after all, build a whole lot of bike racks.
And in the name of putting those racks to good use, non-profit advocacy group the Green Mobility Network has planned a Bike to the Ballpark event to promote alternative means of transportation for Marlins fans.
The group, which promotes safer biking, running, and walking in Miami, hopes that the event will motivate people to forgo their vehicles and take to two-wheeled transportation instead.
"I know that the Marlins caught a lot of criticism in the beginning when the park opened with only a few thousand parking spaces, but in that regard it is probably ahead of its time," says Eli Stiers, board member. "Stadiums and other large public venues that are built in dense, urban areas work best when they are accessed by public transportation arteries."
"One of the things the Marlins tried to do to remedy this was build bike racks to accommodate bicyclists. Unfortunately, they are rarely used and some that might otherwise ride to the games may not even know about the bike racks, because they're located in the garages," he adds.
"We saw a natural opportunity to help promote bicycling in the community by organizing this Bike to the Ballpark event."
On Sunday at noon, the group will set sail from Government Center (a location chosen for its proximity to the Metrorail, city buses and Metromover). From there, they'll trek 1.6 miles down North River Drive, cross the NW Fifth Street Bridge and head west down NW Fourth Street to the Centerfield Garage. A police escort will ensure the route is unimpeded.
(New Times had this idea first, of course, but we can't blame the Green Mobility folks for wanting to join in -- our epic race to Marlins Park was super fun.)
Upon arrival at the stadium, Mayor Thomas Regalado will be waiting to offer an official welcome. Bikes will be parked via free valet, courtesy of the Marlins and The Green Mobility Network. After the game, the group will ride en masse back to downtown.
As an added bonus, participants can score sweet deals on tickets. The Marlins set aside seats in the Vista Box, the Legends Silver Third Base section, and Home Plate Box D. Prices range $15 to $45, but tickets must be ordered before 1 p.m. Saturday.
The group is also asking riders to wear their helmets into the stands to show they're part of the gang.
Stiers hopes the event helps to "educate the public that riding their bike or taking public transit to the game is not only possible, but a fun and safe option."
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Here's to a greener Miami, helmets and all.
The ride kicks off at noon at Government Center on Sunday, September 30, 10710 SW 211th Street, and can accommodate several hundred bikes. Riders are asked to wear their helmets and exercise reasonable caution. All ages are welcome. Discounted tickets are available here.