Hop on the Miami Beach Ciclovía. Party and get dosed with culture at Cycle de Mayo. Go for a musical boogie ride with the Underline Cycling Club.
National Bike Month kicks off Sunday — who knew? — and it’s safe to say it’s never seemed a big thing in Miami. Until maybe now.
Because bikes are cool again, and sustainability and alternative transportation are hot topics, Miami has belatedly embraced the long-running, coast-to-coast celebration of cycling with the fervor of the newly converted.
So are you ready for the first Beach Ciclovía? Modeled after the famed weekly street closures in Bogota, it’s coming to South Beach on Sunday morning. Eleven blocks of Washington Avenue will be cordoned off and turned over to cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, yogis and any other non-motorized comers to disport themselves as they see fit.
“It’s a parade for the people,” said Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who got the idea from New York’s Ciclovía-inspired Summer Streets program, in which seven miles of city streets, including a chunk of Park Avenue, are opened up to all to play, walk, run or ride along on Saturdays in August.
“I was astonished at how cool it was and how much fun it was,” Levine said. “All of a sudden, this road that had been filled with traffic was now filled with people. Park Avenue became a park.
“We thought Washington Avenue would be a great experimental place to try it here because it has enough density of people who might enjoy it. And if it works, we can do it again.”
At about the same time, the folks backing the conversion of the path beneath the Metrorail tracks along South Dixie Highway into an extensive linear park called the Underline will lead a Bikes & Beats ride along a six-mile portion of the planned route. Setting the pace for the ride: a soundtrack of dance music broadcast by Silent Revolution through linked, bike-mounted speakers.
“It’s a disco on wheels, baby,” joked Underline co-founder Meg Daly.
The good news for those who can’t turn pedals over fast enough to be at both Ciclovía and Bikes & Beats simultaneously: Daly said she plans to make the Underline Cycling Club ride a monthly event.
If that doesn’t get you your fill of bike-themed events, the first week of Bike Month also brings the rare combination of high art with the faux-Mexican Cinco de Mayo celebration. The Pérez Art Museum Miami will host Cycle de Mayo on Thursday evening with free funk from Afrobeta and free gallery admission (Mexican-inspired food and strong drink will be for sale).
Two escorted bike rides will get you to PAMM, where secure parking for your wheels will be provided at a bike valet station. (Free bike checkups will be offered, too.)
The Everglades Bicycle Club will lead a ride leaving at 6 p.m. from Metrorail’s Vizcaya Station to the downtown museum, and back to the station after the event. Brickell Bikes, meanwhile, will host a ride to PAMM that leaves from their shop near the Brickell Metrorail station at 5 p.m. Miami-Dade Transit will be at the PAMM Metromover station with free passes for riders taking the rails home.
The good Bike Month stuff at PAMM won’t end there: All visitors who arrive by bike during May will get free admission by posting pics of the ride there on social media.
By now, some readers may be feeling bewildered. Miami-Dade just hosted a bike-to-work day and some other bike-friendly events in March, which, confusingly, is Florida Bike Month — observed a little bit ahead of the national day for reasons of weather. May, in fact, brings a bike-to-school day (May 4) and another bike-to-work day (May 20).
But growing demands for safe and enjoyable ways to pedal a bike in auto-dominated Miami has meant a year-round proliferation of escorted urban rides for casual riders — from the Coral Gables Museum’s popular tours to informal evening explorations like weekly perambulations through Kendall and Dadeland and the Magic Mondays ride that traverses the Gables, Grove and South Miami.
Organizers of some fledgling regular rides hope the Bike Month spotlight will bring more riders and exposure.
Dade Heritage Trust, a prominent historic-preservation group, launched a new monthly bike tour of local historic places in April. On May 8, its second tour will take riders around the unseen side of the Miami Marine Stadium basin on Virginia Key. Other tours this year will take riders from DHT’s Brickell headquarters to Overtown, Little Havana, downtown Miami and Coconut Grove.
For a full schedule of escorted bike rides during May and beyond, as well as links to ride information, go to http://www.themiamibikescene.com/p/events.html