This fall, green mobility advocates from Maine to Florida will celebrate South Miami as a favorite place for walking, biking and using transit. SOMI’s town center is where a classic main street meets Metrorail and the Underline. At a time when many South Floridians and visitors despair about hopeless traffic congestion, this crowd will shine a bright spotlight on ways of moving around that burn calories instead of oil, save money and are fun, too..
The SOMI throng will largely appear on bicycles and walking during the five days of celebration November 11 to 15 known as WHEELS.
“It should be a great long week of fun and for showing many more people how to get around without cars for some of their trips each week,” says Victor Dover, the local town planner / triathlete who is pro bono chair of the WHEELS management team.
WHEELS will start with a Wednesday series of do-it-yourself rides and guided tours through south Miami-Dade, then climax Saturday evening with a “bike-in street party” downtown. Sunday morning, and antique bike parade will honor the bicycling milkman-founder of South Miami, Wilson Larkins.
In between, South Miami will host an afternoon and morning conference led by national leaders in the movement to get people walking, bicycling, riding transit and using trails.
A highlight of the five days will be the 24th annual Summit of the East Coast Greenway Alliance [ECGA], the nonprofit that campaigns for a 2,900-mile paved and off-road trail between the Canadian border and Key West. The East Coast Greenway is already more than 30 percent complete.
The M-Path, becoming the Underline, is part of that network.
Some 50 Alliance members will fly into Miami International Airport, ride the Orange Line to lodgings in the Dadeland area, pick up loaner bikes at Mack Cycle, and bike and walk to meetings and events, returning to MIA and flights home without need for a car.
Everything during the entire five days will be free. That includes rides, runs, bands, giveaways and safety training for kids and adults, and cool prizes.
“The stress of driving all the time has become too much,” says Dover. “Car culture has this lock on our lives, yet the alternatives for short distance travel are right in front of us.”
WHEELS will debut video clips that show people with bikes how to safely board Metrorail stations trains. During the five days of WHEELS everyone that enters a Tri-Rail station with a bike heading to South Miami will ride free. Hundreds of free passes for Metrorail will be available, too.
To register for activities during the five days, log onto www.wheelsflorida.org.
Backers of WHEELS include the Florida Department of Transportation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation, South Florida Commuter Services, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Miami-Dade County, City of South Miami, Baptist Health/South Miami Hospital, First National Bank of South Miami, Dover, Kohl & Partners, ECGA, and SOMI Magazine, among others.
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Longtime travel writer and Florida cycling advocate Herb Hiller is coordinator of WHEELS.