Just returned from a brief warm-up in the “Capital of Latin America," Miami Beach, Florida. With its 248 days per year of sunshine, you might expect there to be a lot of cycling in the dense urban South Beach area, but that is not exactly what we saw. There are more people on bikes in Chicago in 20-degree weather than we saw there, which proves it takes more than fair weather to get people on bikes.
Miami has a Citibike-sponsored bike share program called DecoBike that looks like the Divvy program in Chicago. There are numerous bike share docking stations in South Beach, and at least 100 have been in place since 2011, so there were bikes rolling on the streets and beach by both tourists and locals alike. There were a handful of private scooters, but no dockless scooter sharing program like we experienced in Chicago last summer. As far as infrastructure, there were painted bikes lanes, sharrow symbols, and bike route signs on many of the streets. In 2018 Miami just made the cutoff by Bicycling Magazine to be featured as one of the best bike cities at #50. The League of American Bicyclists which analyzes policies, advocacy, legal protection and infrastructure rated the state of Florida #10 out of 50 in the 2019 list of Bicycle Friendly states which is not that bad.
One area that is holding back Florida from a higher rating is bicycle and pedestrian safety due to the high number of bicycle fatalities and lack connections among their facilities. The League recommends that consideration for cycling be part of all new transportation projects. The infrastructure we saw in Miami Beach was basic—no buffered bike lanes, bike boulevards, cycle tracks, colored bike lanes, or intersection treatments (bike boxes, median refuge islands, bike turn lanes, bike signals). Ridership generally increases when there are facilities that enable people to feel safe to ride and safety increases in turn as the number of riders increases. Most communities in the U.S. have a lot of work to do to carve out space for users of micro-mobility solutions and to develop new non-motorized trails and connections. Although not as robust of a cycling culture as hoped, we had no complaint about spending a few days in 84 degrees wearing shorts and sun screen in February. Looking forward to summer in our city.
Sharon Kaminecki comments on adventures in bicycling and other stories