Nothing says awesome like watching over forty cyclists form a train down Main Highway. This past Saturday's Critical Mass made a parade of cruisers, fixed-gears, road and mountain bikes and set a steady pace from Vizcaya to Matheson Hammock. After diving into the suspiciously murky lagoon at Matheson, we dodged raindrops to make the remaining few miles back to our starting point. Despite a little rain, good cheer and progressive activity prevailed and the ride ended happily – no flats, no crashes, no problem.
When I asked ask a couple of riders how they felt about the cycling climate in South Florida, they sounded off the usual call for more bike lanes and accommodations – an evolving and unending prayer to the FDOT and Transit Departments to make more Miami bike-friendly.
Most of the riders I spoke with brought up roadway responsibility. I assumed people were concerned about vehicular traffic, road space entitlement and the predatory tendencies of aggro drivers jacked up on machismo and Red Bull. Yet in each case the rider addressed a need for cyclist responsibility.
But don’t we own the road? I know my daily commute includes riding on sidewalks, into oncoming traffic and racing through the stops.
A Critical Masser named Scratch clarified the point, “We are traffic but we do not want to hinder traffic.”
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Miami is renowned for its aggressive drivers, and their hubris does not mix well with that of the cyclists. While cyclists have certain roadway entitlements that look great on paper, we have little protest to offer a V8-engined suburban tank. They always win.
“We have to be careful not to be hit,” Scratch continued. “Until we get bike lanes, safety is foremost. One accident is one accident too much.”
A survey passed among riders asking about their favorite or most-traveled routes, the most terrifying routes they have taken, and finally where they would like to see bike lanes developed. The collected information will be delivered to the city’s Bicycle Action Committee to help get a consensus of the cycling climate in Miami. Please offer your own input in the comments or at www.criticalmass.meetup.com/40.
- Adam Schachner