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Thread: Renting a Bike in Miami Beach: How I Spent My Winter Vacation

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    Default Renting a Bike in Miami Beach: How I Spent My Winter Vacation

    Blame the second mojito. I was poolside in Miami Beach when a well-groomed young man handed me my second one. I had been in town for two days, an afternoon spent sipping drinks and picking mint out of my teeth was getting old. I asked the young man if there were any good places to bike in Miami. He produced a tourist map with several tiny bike icons scattered around the beach area and a small advertisement for the Miami Beach Bicycle Center where I could rent a bike. www.bikemiamibeach.com

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    I finished my drink and flip-flopped out of the hotel to the Decobike station a hundred yards down the street, hopped on and found my way down to the LBS without becoming a Lincoln hood ornament. Traffic in Miami can be described as international-lite; the local population interprets speed limits, traffic signals, and bike lanes as friendly suggestions.
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    It was Christmas Eve and at the Miami Beach Bicycle Center a new bike was being rolled out the front door every ten minutes keeping three mechanics in the back busy. In between customers, I rented a Trek Hybrid from Alex who explained the rental came with a basket, U-Lock, bell (I never touched), water bottle cage (I bought a water bottle, should have bought two), and a helmet (I brought my rhinestone one from home).



    The best part about renting this bike was getting good information about roads and routes from someone who actually rides them. Alex took my map and marked alternative roads to take around town to avoid the heaviest traffic and he helped point out a good route to ride to Key Biscayne. He also directed me around the corner to a Cuban cafeteria where the locals eat. Alex provided me with much more than a bike, he oriented me to the city from a cyclist’s perspective.
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    For the next two days I rode all over Miami Beach and across the Venetian Causeway into Downtown Miami. I rode over the Rickenbacker Causeway in the dedicated bike lane and did not have to pay a toll. From there I made it down to the Cape Florida Lighthouse in Key Biscayne on a wide bike lane.

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    It was easy, fun and I ended up with a great souvenir bike jersey. Seeing a city from the saddle was very different from walking or riding around in a car. I saw details I might have missed, beautiful public beaches, winding trails inside a state park, and I especially enjoyed the architecture. The traffic was manageable and despite being alone, I never felt uncomfortable on the bike or off, I’d do it again.
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    Last edited by acc; 01-05-2012 at 06:51 PM. Reason: Blame the mojito

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    Where was the second to last photo taken? I want to be there, like, right now

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    Thanks, Ann. Bikes are a great way to see new cities, in my experience. Slow enough to notice things you'd never see from a car, fast enough that you don't have to regret bad decisions very long at all.

    It's a good point you make about the value of renting from a shop (i.e., getting that extra help/orientation) vs. continuing on on a Decobike. The cheapness in my likes the few dollar option of just grabbing a bike from a stand and going, but there's a lot to be said for the benefit of somebody telling you "No, don't even think about riding across that bridge."

    I hope we see more like this.

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    Sounds like a great way to spend the vacation.

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    I love the idea of riding whenever you go on vacation, partly for the same reasons as Mark stated. I started doing it last time I went to the Outer Banks, and I managed to ride a few different bikes (mostly folders) on a recent trip to Taiwan, including a belt-drive Strida with disc brakes. It felt weird getting back on my full size bike when I got back.

    Quote Originally Posted by acc View Post
    a helmet (I brought my rhinestone one from home).

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    This is a great tale of taking a vacation to the next level on the fly, thanks for posting. I was able to do something like this a few years ago when I was in Minneapolis on business - spent the day off riding around the old Victorian part of town and along their local bikeway on a pair of rented bikes. Even got to exorcise my curiosity about recumbents that day and picked up my first Cars R Coffins stickers. Your post has me resolved to do this everytime I am at loose ends in a strange place. BTW, on a strictly editorial note Ann, anyone who's byline is Rhinestone Cowgirl simply must include her gem encrusted helmet in her post self pic .

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    FYI to all. Bike and Roll has lots of rental locations in Manhattan and now that NYC has rolled out lots of bike lanes it's a great way to see the city. It's advisable to bring your own helmet though.

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    I used the Broward cycle while I was in Ft Lauderdale beach during the holidays. It was great way to get around. I love the big basket and 3 speed shifting. It's very similar to our Capital Bike Share. Here is their site.

    http://broward.bcycle.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by KLizotte View Post
    FYI to all. Bike and Roll has lots of rental locations in Manhattan and now that NYC has rolled out lots of bike lanes it's a great way to see the city. It's advisable to bring your own helmet though.
    +1 - Riding NYC was by far the best choice I made to see the city. It's still a little bit Thunderdome on the streets, don't believe all those news stories saying it's a cycling nirvana. Not quite yet anyway.

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    Here is a picture of the bike I rented. It wasn't fancy but for three days I paid $51.00 because I was not charged for Christmas Day. All it lacked was E.T. riding in the basket. This picture was taken at South Point Park, the fishing pier is in the background. There is a wide bike path through this area leading to a marina, there are restrooms and lucky for me a concession stand with a great big ice-cold Diet Coke. (It seems there is a Pepsi preference in Miami, go figure.)

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    From a bike/pedestrian trail within Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. At the entrance of the park there was a sign asking all bicyclists to dismount and pay a $2.00 user fee. The park ranger was taking the fees from the cars but waved me right through. The trails rolled along the perimeter of the park with some waterfront views and led to the lighthouse at the tip of the park. There were restrooms and water available in several locations.
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    From the Venetian Causeway. This is a marked bike route and there is almost a constant parade of bikes moving through the area in both directions. When I was taking this picture at least three roadies asked if I needed assistance, such nice men. The only problem was the east bound lane is under construction and I happened to be riding back during rush hour, not my brightest decision. I came across a nice resident who was singing and weaving a bit on his bike, I stayed behind him and figured if he had survived this ride before I would too. But that's another story for another time and involves me calling out to him for directions in broken Spanish and him leading me the wrong way down roads in Miami Beach to get there while serenading me. Again, not my brightest decision.
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    The pretty bike path pictured previously was from Crandon Park, a jewel. It is right along the ocean and contains wide beaches that are quiet and secluded. There are clean well-equipped bathrooms, a full-service grill, ice cream, cold drinks and a paved trail that runs along the oceanside.
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    Now I have to confess. I made a few bad decisions. My worst was relying on a colorful tourist map to guesstimate the distance from Miami Beach to Key Biscayne. What I thought was about thirty miles was almost fifty, it's funny now, but not when I was riding the last two miles in the dark along a fairly busy road. As it became dark I had the presence of mind to return the rental and pick up a Decobike that was equipped with the equivalent of a nightlight for the short roll back to the hotel. Like I said, it's a hilarious story now... Or perhaps my worst idea was my blind faith that if the icon on the map indicated the route was a bike route there would be restrooms and water available along the way. It was 84 degrees and sunny, I quickly learned to fill up my water bottle at any and all opportunities. My only moment of mild concern happened when I pulled into a place called Bayside near the cruise ships and bus station. It was an open-air mall and I asked the security guards where I could lock my bike while I used the ladies room. They laughed and said don't bother, it wasn't safe. I jumped back on the bike and kept going.

    ann
    Last edited by acc; 01-06-2012 at 03:57 PM. Reason: Compulsive need to confess

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