Traffic

Summit will kick off major car-free event to promote the use of bicycles and mass transit

Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava experiences how bikes and mass transit can provide alternate ways to travel efficiently and far — without having to use a car. Cava toured Metro Rail and other services by the county’s transit department in March as part of a series of tours to better understand how the services operate.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava experiences how bikes and mass transit can provide alternate ways to travel efficiently and far — without having to use a car. Cava toured Metro Rail and other services by the county’s transit department in March as part of a series of tours to better understand how the services operate. rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

Normally, when visitors arrive at Miami International Airport (MIA), they head straight to the rental car center and lease a vehicle for a few days.

But on Nov. 11, a group of travelers will not head for the rental car center first. Instead, they will go to the Metrorail station at MIA and take the elevated train to South Miami where they will disembark and get loaner bikes to get around.

The visitors are members of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a pro-biking group developing a trail system to link many of the major cities along the Eastern Seaboard from Canada to Key West. Dozens of alliance members and their families will descend on Miami Nov. 11-15 for their annual summit and to participate in a major car-free event called Wheels: Advancing Florida’s Mobility Future.

The event in South Miami and at the nearby University of Miami in Coral Gables will promote ways to travel in Miami-Dade County efficiently and far — without having to use a car. Those ways include walking, biking and riding Metrorail or Metrobus.

Organizers expect 10,000 people to participate during the five-day event.

Wheels also will include lectures on the history of cycling in Miami-Dade, a street festival and a bike parade.

Victor Dover, principal with Dover, Kohl & Partners of South Miami and chair of Wheels, provided details of the event during a recent telephone interview. He said the host and organizer of the event is the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

“The point of Wheels is to shine a bright spotlight on bikes, trails, walking and transit during the five days,” Dover said.

He added that the event also will highlight “clever ways” by which people upset with traffic jams can use existing transit systems to travel efficiently without resorting to cars.

“Encourage people, for example, to ride bikes to transit so they can cover the first and last mile and use the trains and buses that we’ve already got,” he said. “What we want is to accelerate the number of people who are choosing bikes, trails and transit for a trip to get coffee, or to the movies, or even for their trip to work, or school.”

Among the Wheels events will be instructions on how to ride your bike to the train, carry it on the train and then ride it to work or on errands.

The event kicks off Nov. 11 with a history look-back on cycling organized by historian Arva Parks. Parks will tell the story of Kirk Munroe of Coconut Grove, who founded the League of American Bicyclists, the largest cycling advocacy organization, Dover said. Another highlight will be a discussion of Wilson Larkins, a dairy farmer and cyclist who founded South Miami.

On Nov. 12, a twilight ride is scheduled — organized by the activist group Emerge Miami. On Nov. 13, there’ll be a conference with national speakers that will continue into the next day. That afternoon and evening, a biking street bash takes place featuring a kids bike rodeo, a Critical Mass bike ride and — starting at sunset — live music and restaurant food on tables set up on the streets in South Miami.

On the last day, Nov. 15, King Mango Strut parade founder Glenn Terry stages a “Magical Mystery History Tour” bike ride from Coconut Grove to South Miami. That Sunday afternoon, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge Family Festival takes place as a companion event at the University of Miami, with a separate registration.

For more information, visit the Wheels website at www.wheelsflorida.org

Alfonso Chardy: 305-376-3435, @AlfonsoChardy

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