Bike Blog - Car-free and Caught in the Rain

This was probably the crappiest week so far this year to be a bicycle commuter. The timing was consistent everyday: show up to work with the sunrise and end work in time for the deluge. Apocalyptic thunderstorms helped me celebrate the end of each work day by holding out until my ride home to kick off the party.

Miami’s regularly scheduled 3 and 4 o’clock summer rain showers help combat our ongoing drought situation, yet the afternoon downfall plunges me into one of the tragic aspects of being a cycling commuter in Miami: there’s virtually no transit alternative if you are car-free and caught in the rain.

The bus alternative is sometimes challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with the system. The buses cut a clear circuit around the city, and that’s wonderful in a rainstorm, but there is still the rush hour congestion jam, especially during a downpour. Additionally, the buses offer limited bike storage for cyclists – two per bus. Oftentimes, catching a bus on the fly proves difficult since the regular bus-riding cyclists know the routes, know the times and beat the spontaneous commuters to the bike space. These obstacles have often left me blowdrying my sneakers at the end of my commute.

A hostile weather refuge I’ve frequently relied upon is the Metrorail. The train system is a blessing, as long as you are traveling along its specific route. Trying to commute outside of its established course means an attempt to ride the buses or fast cycle in the rain. Another problem I’ve encountered with the Metrorail is that when I try to ride it, the trains don’t seem to want to move. On the occasional rainy day that I am not trapped on a train during one of these demoralization sessions, there’s little else to do in a rush than sigh away my $1.50 transit fare and pedal out into the downpour. Time to dodge lightening bolts. Ironically, I often find myself hiding under the Metrorail’s raised tracks to avoid the rain, rather than actually riding the train itself.

Increased numbers of people are considering the benefits of a public transit commute. I hope the frustrations and impracticalities issued to Miami riders stuck in a storm don’t drown potential cycling commuters.

- Adam Schachner

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