Miami Beach Cyclists Ride In Search of Bike Paths

Strap on your helmet and start pedaling. No, not just the vegans in cut-off shorts with fixed-gear bikes, but all of you. Tomorrow's is appropriate for cyclists of every type, shape, and size. Hosted by the Miami Beach Bicycle Center, it's the longest running of its kind and welcomes two-wheeling riders ages 8 to 75. So bring the kids and grandma for a safe, police-escorted trip through the Beach's pastel, deco streets.

For the last nine years, the Miami Beach Community Ride has remained a family friendly affair hosted by a family owned business. Cultist recently spoke with Danny Ruiz, who runs the Miami Beach Bicycle Center with his father and his brother Alex. He offered us some insight into the growing bike scene in South Florida and some background on the community ride.

According to Ruiz, the motivation to start the community ride was one of hope. "After September 11, the morale in our city was very low, the streets were empty. The ride created a distraction for people, and reminded them what a beautiful place Miami Beach is."

When asked about how he's seen bike culture evolve on South Beach since the store opened 33 years ago, he noted changes in the city's population. "The area has seen a dramatic change in demographics. In 1977, Miami Beach was best known as a retirement community." Many of the young bikers on the beach may not remember, but their neighborhood once looked more like a string of hospices than a row of nightclubs.

Miami Beach Bicycle Center actively advocates for additional bike paths in the city, since, according to Ruiz, "the bicycle culture is outgrowing the infrastructure." He noted that the newer crowd "is constantly on the move and seeks alternative transportation." A bike is the easiest way to get around the beach. It's not only green, but convenient.

The ride is about 13 miles long, usually includes about 80 riders, and has a stop halfway for bikers cool down with water. The event is held every second Saturday of the month. Tomorrow's starts at 9 a.m. from Miami Beach Bicycle Center (601 Fifth St. Miami Beach). Call 305-674-0150 or visit bikemiamibeach.com.

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