For many years I both lived and worked in Coral Gables, and since my house was less than a mile from work, I decided to ditch my car and purchased a scooter. I conveniently biked, walked or scootered around town. I could get to the beach or the Grove by scooter, bike or public transportation.
I could visit my family in Palm Beach County by using Tri-Rail, and I very rarely traveled south of South Miami. Life was good -- no car payments, no insurance and my scooter managed 90 miles per gallon. If I found I needed a vehicle, I simply rented one.
Then I met the perfect man: a cute farmer who grows great veggies, makes compost, refuses to pay for cable TV (like me) and really dislikes AC (like me).
In a few months after our chance meeting at the Coral Gables Farmers Market (where he was a vendor), I moved in with him. I did so despite the geographically undesirable location of his home, an area known as The Falls, a full 10 miles from my place of employment. The challenge: getting to work in Coral Gables using the same modes of transportation I used when I lived in the City Beautiful.
Options: 1. Ride my bike, which took too much time. 2. Drive the scooter, which ended up being no different than a car commute, with the same traffic, same trip length as far as time was concerned and then you have the safety factor given Miami drivers' needs to talk, text, change lanes with a frenzy, run red lights and completely fail to ever use a signal. Option 3: Take the bus to the Metrorail to the Douglas Road station and then board to Coral Gables trolley, which drops me one block from work after a 50-minute trip. The buses also have bike racks on the front for no extra charge. Option 4: Ride my bike on the M-Path, a bike path which runs parallel to the busway south of Dadeland, and then board Metrorail, depart at Douglas Road and ride my bike into downtown Coral Gables. This is by far the most desirable option. I get a bit of exercise before work, I'm on a safe path parallel to the madness of US 1 and it's a pleasant way to commute. This option takes me about an hour -- yes, in a skirt and heels -- and my daily expense is $4 round trip.
Public transit in Miami-Dade County gets a bad rap, but once you learn the routes, can navigate the transit kiosks, learn how to lift your bike on the bus, and find the station elevators functioning for the bike, it's not bad. The Metrorail cars now have spaces on board specifically for bike storage. Not many people opt to use the same alternatives to commute that I do, but I'm happy with my methodology.
I also hope to encourage people to get out from behind the wheel and discover the beauty and health benefits of biking to work.
Christine Rupp is director of the Coral Gables Museum. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-603-8067.