You can't miss them. The new signs, on Lincoln Road at Meridian and Washington avenues, are massive, and their message is loud and unambiguous. "NO BICYCLES ON LINCOLN ROAD," they flash in lighted block letters. "BICYCLES PROHIBITED 9 A.M. to 2 A.M."
The electronic signs went up a couple of weeks ago in response to a new city ordinance that was passed earlier this fall.
"We've had some favorable response from our police and code enforcement," says Miami Beach transportation director Jose Gonzalez. "They're very visible, the new signs. So it's always easier to enforce the law that way."
But yesterday evening, at least, enforcement was nowhere to be seen. Around 5:30 p.m., just as daylight was fading, dozens of pedestrians strolled past the sign at Meridian. They were joined by a steady stream of cyclists.
"We didn't know," Claudia Lazaro said in Spanish as she and a companion slowly wheeled up to a bike rack across the street from the sign. Lazaro, a tourist from Buenos Aires, was cycling for the first time on the mall, she said, and she was slightly taken aback. "It's just for over there, isn't it?" she asked, indicating across the street.
Her confusion was understandable -- the bike rack was practically full, and no one looked twice as tourists on Citibikes or locals on streeters cruised right past the sign expressly prohibiting them from doing so.
"It's a little inconvenient," Concepcion Garcia said in Spanish after being stopped by a reporter in front of the sign and informed of the new restriction. Garcia, a kitchen worker, had just gone shopping and was on his way to a friend's house -- the trip would take a lot longer if he had to walk, he said. "I didn't know it was prohibited."
"I would say I need clarity," added Anthony, a local health technology worker who racked his bike a few minutes later and declined to give his last name. Anthony didn't know about the new rule either, but informed of it he took a quick glance at the sign, partially hidden across the street, and then wondered exactly what it meant: Were bicycles themselves actually prohibited, or was it just riding them that was prohibited? Could he still at least ride up to the mall and then walk it to the rack?
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But Anthony is a congenial fellow, and he vowed to comply with the spirit of the rule in the future even if it meant he had to get off and walk for several blocks next time.
"I respect that for safety reasons," he said. "I want to be mindful."