Very few things make me happier than the simple pleasure of riding a bike. The feeling of freedom, instant connection with the outdoors and the fact that you're responsible for moving your own body. I love bikes - and I am especially passionate about biking as a form of transportation. A favorite quote of mine sums it up nicely...
After happily going a year without a car and just getting around via bike, I'm often asked about what kind of bike to get and how I handle biking in Miami. Honestly, it can be a total clusterfuck. Miami is notoriously un-bike friendly. Rough roads... bike lanes unexpectedly ending... lots of tourists... and crazy ass drivers. Yet biking can be your most beautiful Miami experience at the same time. Whether you have a bike or want a bike, here are some things I've learned from five years of biking the streets of MIA that may help you.
1. Get a bike that suits your lifestyle. Over my lifetime I've had different types of bike - road bikes, mountain bikes, fixes, beach cruisers, hybrids. I love them all for lots of reasons. You have to consider what you need your bike for. Are you taking it to Whole Foods for groceries? Cool - get a hybrid or cruiser with a basket. Are you planning on using it as your car? Awesome - get a fixie or lightweight hybrid (you want it light so you can easily put it on a bus or in a friend's car if you need to). You don't need a lot of gears in Miami since we don't have any hills. When you're ready to get a bike, check out local bike shops or online. Most companies frequently run web promotions or free shipping so have some patience when online shopping. You can also easily buy online and bring it into your local bike shop to have it assembled.
2. Once you get it... lock that shit up. While you're at it, get a really badass lock. Between us, Mike and I have had five bikes stolen from Miami Beach. That's 2.5 bikes per person! WTF, right? Invest in a lock. I love my Kryptonite Evolution Mini - I got it on amazon.com. People are ruthless so always lock your bike up to something stable. I've seen street signs ripped out of the street so people can steal the bikes locked up to them - always make sure you're locked up to something secure. And lock your bike through the rear triangle.
3. Never leave your bike out overnight in this city. NEVER. I don't care how well locked up it is.
4. Consider your attire. You want to be able to be nimble and comfortable. Girls - biking in a dress or skirt sucks. You can't go that fast and the fabric might get caught somewhere. Flip flops and sandals can be a pain too - not to mention dangerous. Your most comfortable biking outfit is flexible bottoms and sneakers of some variety. I have a single speed (fixie) that doesn't allow for a basket, hence why you see me wearing a backpack around town. That's how I get my groceries home and it's nice because it keeps the weight centered on your back. For chicks - a purse or even a cross body bag can be troublesome if the weight shifts to one side or the other. I've had scary experiences when a heavy tote bag slipped off my shoulder and almost threw me off my bike. Just good to consider.
5. Know your roads. Euclid is a great biking thoroughfare in Miami Beach - nice and wide with well marked bike lanes. West Ave is a mess right now with all overflow from the Alton construction. Biking down Lincoln Road is a nightmare on weekends but in the very early morning, it is a truly delightful experience. Google Maps has a bike function for when you're mapping out a route that's helpful.
6. Check out group rides. Critical Mass is one of my absolute favorite things to do in Miami. Or come ride with us during our monthly Purdy Ave rides. It's such a cool way to see the city and meet new friends. If you're riding at night, make sure you get some bike lights for safety.
7. It's the tropics, so it's almost a given that you're going to get rained on. You might want to get a lightweight rain jacket. You'll also probably ride in the rain. And unless you have more of a cruiser bike with fenders, you'll end up with a nice wet line on your butt from the spray. You can check our the Ass-savers (yes, it's a real thing!) to keep your booty dry.
And finally... once you're out there on the road, take time to enjoy your scenery and have so much fun! You are treading lightly on this earth when you're on a bike and that's a really good thing. You can discover so much more than you could in a car! Soak in the beauty and art that surrounds you - life just feels a little more magical when you're cruising around this planet on two wheels.