Miami's gridlock is so bemoaned by locals and visitors alike that it has become a cliché — albeit an accurate one. Thanks to lots of dedicated public transit activists, wheels are turning (so to speak), but maybe not as quickly as most would like.
Enter Wheels, a new conference designed to help South Florida become the nation’s next green mobility hub.
Headquartered in South Miami (the only local city where trains and trails pass directly through its downtown), the five-day affair will feature bike rides, train rides, a parade led by King Mango Strut founder Glenn Terry, and the first-ever South Miami Bike-In Street Bash, with live bands and free beer.
At least 10,000 people are expected to abandon their cars and opt for alternative transport during the event, which runs November 11 through 15.
Victor Dover and his bike.
Courtesy of Wheels
"Through Wheels, we hope to dramatize to elected officials, business leaders, and transportation officials that there is a big, unmet demand for better transit, more walkable streets, and
The full schedule includes a twilight bike ride, a trail run, a ride with the Everglades Bike Club, a magical mystery history tour, and plenty of other activities to keep everyone's wheels spinning for the week. The effort also features safety training, with a demonstration on how to use bikes with trains and buses. Free helmets and bike tuneups will be provided to early registrants.
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But what about Miamians who are totally attached to their cars? Given the city's stiletto epidemic, it's hard to imagine a lot of people riding bikes. For those folks, Dover recommends starting small.
"Most Miamians realize, if they stop to think about it, that many of their car trips are short, less than a mile or two, not necessarily long commutes to work. I urge people to try switching to a bike ride for a trip to get a cup of coffee at their favorite café or to go to the movies," he says. "From there, they can try riding to the train for their trip to a basketball game or concert. They’ll discover favorite routes, get out from behind the wheel and from in front of the TV, and get where they’re going burning a few calories instead of spending money on petroleum and parking. They’ll be hooked."
The Wheels initiative takes place November 11 through 15 with events at various locations throughout Miami, with its headquarters in South Miami. Visit WheelsFlorida.org for more information and a full schedule of events.