The Biscayne Times

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May 26th
2 Wheels Are Better Than 4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dina Weinstein, Photos by Silvia Ros.   
October 2010

Five urban bike rides that are full of fun, friends, and fear

Cover_story_mainAnyone who has strapped on a helmet and pumped pedals knows that Miami is a challenging place for bicycle riders, full of aggressive drivers who rarely use turn signals and devoid of basic bicycle infrastructure. Often it can be downright dangerous.

In other metropolitan areas, advocacy groups and politicians have made great strides in promoting this healthy and pollution-free form of transportation. New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Boston, for example, have laid foundations that we could follow. In those cities, governmental leaders and biking advocates have taken the initiative to create safe bike lanes, increase traffic enforcement, and establish convenient parking for bicycles. In Minneapolis, the rail system has at least two bike racks in each car. Cyclists pop their bikes onto the back wheel and hook them into place. No seats are blocked.

We also know that Greater Miami has tremendous potential for biking, if for no other reason than the flat landscape, but also because you can bike here year-round. So at a time when automobile congestion grows each year, and as gas prices rise (along with our dependency on fossil fuels), it just makes sense to encourage bicycles in our urban areas.

This story can be seen as a modest effort toward that encouragement: Five interesting rides that get BT readers out of the house and onto the streets (with helmets and caution!) to explore neighborhoods and establish a two-wheeled presence in our four-wheeled world.

Following Florida’s bicycle laws is one of the keys to safe cycling. The Florida Bicycle Association lists the rules of the road on their website. (Web links to the association and other biking groups can be found at the end of this article.) Some safety essentials include: Always wear a helmet and sturdy shoes. Always assume car drivers do not see you. Use sidewalks when roadways are too dangerous. Weekends and holidays mean less car traffic and better biking.

Treasures await the intrepid cyclist traveling on and off Biscayne Boulevard. Parks, stunning bay views, vibrant neighborhoods, amazing outdoor murals, attractions, and eateries are often just blocks off the thoroughfare, and yet there are few wayfaring signs to tell people about them. On these five journeys, riders will experience jarring transitions from safety to danger, commercial to residential, shade to blazing sun, beauty to blight.

My fellow travelers on these excursions made the rides pleasant and more than just a pedal from park to park. Dario Gonzalez and Olga Cano of the Miami Open Streets team, Kathryn Moore of the South Florida Bike Coalition, Felipe Azenha of TransitMiami.org and his wife Olga Ramos, Hank Sanchez-Resnik of the Green Mobility Network, and historian Seth Bramson provided companionship and valuable commentary. It’s good to know there are individuals and organizations in Miami we can support that address alternative mobility in this car-dependent society.

Riders should understand the risks involved in hopping on two wheels, but also the joy of feeling the breeze, interacting with fellow Miamians, and discovering new and spectacular sights. Happy cycling!

 

DOWNTOWN / WYNWOOD

Cover_3Dario Gonzalez and Olga Cano meet me at Miami’s Government Center for this ride from downtown to Wynwood to Biscayne Boulevard and back. My son and I have arrived by Metrorail, bicycles in tow.

There is ample parking in the area on the weekends, especially in the public lots under the I-95 on ramps and off ramps. The covered garage behind the library is free when you use the library and get your parking receipt validated there.

As organizers of the Open Streets Bike Miami Days (next event: November 14), Gonzalez and Cano are a civic force to be reckoned with. They’ll also lead a “Graffiti by Bike” tour of Wynwood next month (November 13, 10:00 a.m., Allapattah Metrorail station), and another coinciding with Art Basel in December.

Gonzalez and Cano aren’t just advocates for better bicycling in Miami. They’re activists who attend governmental meetings at all levels, voicing the need for better infrastructure to encourage alternative transportation. Gonzalez is an FIU researcher on public policy, specializing in urban issues related to transportation. Cano is a trained architect. They are passionate about the city core and the public art in Wynwood.

Around 9:00 a.m. on Labor Day, Gonzalez, Cano, my seven-year-old son Yehuda, and I head off on our urban adventure from the broad plaza that links the library, the Miami Art Museum, and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida (now HistoryMiami). The cultural complex was designed by acclaimed architect Philip Johnson and opened in 1982.

We bike west just a few blocks from the grit of Government Center to the seven-acre green and calm of Lummus Park, steps from the Miami River. The historic buildings in the park tell a story of our past -- the William English slave plantation house, also known as Fort Dallas, dates back to the late 1840s. Years ago it was relocated to the park. Early settlers built the Wagner homestead house in the park shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War. The park also houses the Miami Police Department’s equestrian unit. You can see the horses in their corrals.

Like a lot of Miami, the neighborhood’s architecture is a hodgepodge. The Scottish Rite Temple looms enigmatically across the street from the park. Vintage apartments and a rooming house on NW 3rd Street remind us of another era. Historians say this used to be the city’s finest address. Now I think the area is best known for riverfront restaurants like Garcia’s and Casablanca.

Leaving the park, we follow the river upstream along NW N. River Drive to NW 5th Street, then zigzag under I-95 and up NW 2nd Avenue through Overtown, confidently taking up an entire traffic lane on this holiday morning. In the residential area, a rooster struts by. We exchange greetings with pedestrians and admire a well-tended “Roots in the City” community garden. The neighborhood is made up of a variety of modest housing, punctuated by a bright cluster of tidy cottages Cano explains were built by Habitat for Humanity.

The rising heat induces us to skip a worthy detour to the 11-acre Miami City Cemetery (c. 1887), located just south of Temple Israel between NE 2nd Avenue and N. Miami Avenue. There cyclists can enjoy the parklike setting and stroll among the headstones of many Miami pioneers, names such as Tuttle, Burdine, Peacock, Duval, Sewell, and Jackson.

Today, however, our goal is to see the murals of Wynwood, larger-than-life works by internationally known artists like El Mac, Big Boy, Shepard Fairey, Retna, and Johnny Robles. The best area to see the art is off NW 2nd Avenue, with a concentration of works on and around NW 23rd Street.

The “Wynwood Walls” project is a bright and eclectic collection of outdoor murals from renowned artists commissioned by developer Tony Goldman, who owns many buildings in Wynwood. You can find the murals along NW 2nd Avenue between 25th and 26th streets. More works, many sponsored by the arts group Primary Flight, can be seen in the area bounded by NW 2nd Avenue and NW 5th Avenue, between 22nd and 28th streets.

We linger at a mural created by Phoenix, Arizona-based artist El Mac and Retna, from Los Angeles. Primary Flight curated this enormous work on NW 24th Street (near the Dorsch Gallery), which depicts a boy crouching down.

El Mac used a palette of black, white, and gray. Calligraphic lettering contributed by Retna surrounds the boy and fills up the entire wall around him. The lettering, Gonzalez explains, is inspired by the American Southwest’s Chicano culture.

Throughout Wynwood there are unexpected moments of aesthetic pleasure -- more murals, brightly colored art galleries -- but compared to Biscayne Boulevard, it feels rough and neglected. However, a few locally owned restaurants can make up for that. My companions recommend Clive’s Café, a homey, 30-year-old diner featuring Jamaican specialties. (For a complete listing of Wynwood restaurants, turn to the BT’s “Dining Guide,” page 70.)

After making our way over to Biscayne Boulevard and biking south, my son and I are too pooped to investigate the amazing Bacardi buildings, or to take advantage of the beautiful bay views and public art at the dog-friendly Margaret Pace Park (1745 N. Bayshore Dr.). Still, the ride down the Boulevard with Yehuda is pleasant. The sidewalks are mostly clear, so we stick to them.

“We’re at the place where they have the music,” Yehuda says. I’m pleased at my son’s recognition of landmarks like the Adrienne Arsht Center. A few blocks south we marvel at artist John Henry’s monumental blue steel sculpture Je Souhaite at a remnant slip of the old port of Miami, between Bicentennial Park and the American Airlines Arena. The water view beyond is also lovely. (Biking around Bicentennial Park is an excellent detour.)

As we pedal south along the Boulevard streetscape and enjoy the geometric shapes of Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx, we share our bicycling achievement with the sculpture of fellow achiever Juan Ponce de Leon, the first European to enter Biscayne Bay. Then meander through Bayfront Park, zip down Flagler Street, and head back to Government Center.

BikeMap1

Start at Government Center’s Cultural Plaza ► North on NW 2nd Avenue to NW 2nd Street ► West on NW 2nd Street, under I-95, to Lummus Park ► Explore the park, then north on NE N. River Drive to NW 5th Street ► East on 5th Street to NW 2nd Avenue ► North on 2nd Avenue to NW 14th Street ► East on 14th Street to NW 1st Court ► North on 1st Court to 19th Street (detour east for city cemetery) ► North on 1st Court to 23rd Street (murals) ► West on 23rd Street to NW 2nd Avenue ► North on 2nd Avenue to 24th Street (murals) ► East on 24th Street (murals) to N. Miami Avenue ► North on Miami Avenue to 29th Street ► East on 29th Street to NE 2nd Avenue ► South on 2nd Avenue to 28th Street ► East on 28th Street to Biscayne Boulevard ► South on Biscayne Boulevard sidewalk (Bacardi buildings) to 20th Terrace ► Optional: East on 20th Terrace to Margaret Pace Park ► South on Biscayne Boulevard sidewalk (Arsht Center) to Bicentennial Park ► Optional: Explore park’s waterfront views ► South on Biscayne Boulevard to Bayfront Park ► West on Flagler Street back to Government Center.

 

UPPER EASTSIDE

Cover_5The Belle Meade neighborhood is a picture of suburban serenity sitting just off Biscayne Boulevard at NE 76th Street. It is lush and manicured. Neighbors look out for each other. A guard watches who comes and goes, though the streets are open to the public.

New Belle Meade residents Felipe Azenha and Olga Ramos, who also happen to be newlyweds, accompany my son and I on this ride from their neighborhood to Morningside Park, then over to Little Haiti.

They are very proud to show Yehuda and me their bucolic community. Belle Meade and Belle Meade Island are old by Miami standards, though a number of the houses are contemporary. In fact there’s an interesting range of architectural styles. The oldest homes were built in the 1930s. Sidewalks line most every street. Traffic is spare. Trees shade the roadways. Take care not to block driveways when you park and unload your bikes.

Azenha and Ramos work in banking, but they’re also very civic-minded Miamians. Azenha writes primarily about bicycling for the Transit Miami blog. He just started a masters degree program at the University of Miami’s real estate development and urban design program. Professors there are famous for teaching New Urbanism, which promotes the restoration of cities and the creation of human-oriented, livable, and walkable communities. Everywhere Azenha goes he sees possibilities for making Miami more people-friendly. And of course he sees the need for simple things like crosswalks and bike lanes. On our ride, we encounter few.

After a pleasant meander through Belle Meade, and crossing over a small bridge to explore Belle Meade Island, we head west on 76th Street and bid farewell to the thick tree canopy, though the ride down NE 4th Court is surprisingly shady. We’re on our way to Morningside Park, a waterfront gem. It is Azenha and Ramos’ first visit to the park, and on this weekend morning, it sparkles. People are playing soccer, tennis, baseball, and bicycling. A rollerblader struts his stuff. Others enjoy the bay views. A family rides a wave runner in the bay while their kids splash in the water. The grandmothers chat on the seawall.

On our way back to the Boulevard, Morningside’s gorgeous Mediterranean Revival homes make us feel like we’re on a movie set. Then it’s up the Boulevard and west to Little Haiti and its still-new soccer park, which includes FIFA-regulation playing and practice fields. It’s also equipped with a 750-seat bleacher with concessions and bathrooms. All are empty during our visit. We join a young girl and her mom as they bike laps around the jogging path. Other parents look on as their children enjoy the playground.

We’re close to the lively and colorful commercial district of Little Haiti including the Caribbean Marketplace, shuttered for years but anticipating a revival. Enticing aromas from garlicky dishes fill the air outside the numerous restaurants. We turn onto NE 59th Terrace and stop at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. The recently opened complex boasts striking architectural design by Bernard Zyscovich; bright, eye-catching murals; plus state-of-the-art theater and exhibition spaces. Azenha and Ramos discover a used furniture vendor across the street. They’re in the market for a table.

The return ride up NE 5th Avenue and over to the Boulevard gives us a chance to stop for cold drinks and pastries at the family-owned Le Café. The Vagabond Motel’s MiMo presence looms over the café’s outdoor dining terrace.

Stopping here gives Azenha and Ramos a chance to talk about city development and the frustration Azenha has experienced trying to lobby the Florida Department of Transportation. Through the Transit Miami blog, he is imploring FDOT to lower the speed limit on Brickell Avenue as the road is repaved. “The speed limits there are too high,” Azenha says. “FDOT has to do the right thing.”

Making that busy street more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly would be a first for FDOT, which has a well-deserved reputation for giving priority to cars. Azenha hopes that pressure on the agency from empowered Miamians will influence decision-makers to slow things down in their neighborhoods.

“And what about bicycling on Biscayne Boulevard?” I ask.

Azenha rolls his eyes and shakes his head as cars whiz past.

BikeMap2

Start on NE 76th Street just inside guard gate ► East on 76th Street / Belle Meade Boulevard to NE 9th Avenue ► North on 9th Avenue, over bridge, to Belle Meade Island ► Loop back to 76th Street/Belle Meade Boulevard ► East on Belle Meade Boulevard to 72nd Terrace ► West on 72nd Terrace to NE 7th Avenue ► North on 7th Avenue to 76th Street ► Exit Belle Meade west on 76th Street to NE 4th Court ► South on 4th Court to 54th Street ► Cross over railroad tracks to Biscayne Boulevard ► South on Biscayne Boulevard sidewalk to 50th Terrace ► East on 50th Terrace to Morningside Park ► Explore park, then exit on 55th Terrace ► West on 55th Terrace to 5th Avenue ► North on 5th Avenue to Biscayne Boulevard ► North on Biscayne Boulevard to NE 62nd Street ► West on 62nd Street to NE 2nd Avenue ► North on 2nd Avenue two blocks to Little Haiti Soccer Park ► Exit soccer park south on 2nd Avenue to 59th Terrace ► East on 59th Terrace to Little Haiti Cultural Center ► Exit cultural center east on 59th Terrace to NE 4th Avenue ► North on 4th Avenue to 61st Street ► East on 61st Street to 5th Avenue ► North on 5th Avenue to 76th Street ► East on 76th Street to Belle Meade starting point.

 

NORTH MIAMI BEACH

Cover_6My cycling companion for this ride, Hank Sanchez-Resnik, is the kind of retiree Miami needs. He has a keen sense of adventure. For exercise he regularly bikes 60 miles a day from his home on Key Biscayne. He utilizes his bike for everyday errands whenever possible.

Years before coming to Miami, Sanchez-Resnik founded the advocacy group Bicycle Friendly Berkeley in California. Here he channels his discontent with Miami’s bicycling infrastructure into the Green Mobility Network, where he sits on the board of directors.

Our ride this day has as its goal a pleasant excursion linking three attractions: East Greynolds Park, Oleta River State Park, and the Ancient Spanish Monastery. with the goal of seeing if we could connect the three sights for a pleasant excursion. We can see challenges before we even begin. Studying a map, I anticipate riding on narrow sidewalks and bike paths next to eight-lane, high-speed thoroughfares. For that reason it is just too dangerous a ride for children.

We start our journey in the parking lot of East Greynolds Park, which is a pleasant nature preserve with a dog-run area, a dock on Maule Lake for fishing, and some paths winding through the wooded areas. The greenery keeps down the temperature. You can barely hear the din of traffic on Biscayne Boulevard.

We steel ourselves for the ride to Oleta River State Park, first on the eastern sidewalk of the Boulevard, then the northern sidewalk along NE 163rd Street. It’s not exactly a relaxing ride, but relatively safe. Then we experience a jolt upon leaving 163rd for Oleta.

We’ve passed through some kind of urban worm hole. All is quiet, natural, soothing. The bicyclist’s two-dollar entrance fee seems more like a humble offering to Mother Nature.

The park may be best known for its 15-miles of off-road bicycling trails, but it is also picnic heaven. We pedal past mangrove forests. People swim and fish off the park’s sandy beach. The picnic tables, grills, and pavilions are empty on this weekday morning, but we can imagine the crowds during the weekends.

Bicycling the path out to the rustic, air-conditioned rental cabins, we are surrounded by shady, fragrant pines. There we meet Warren Lopez, a Honduran barber and experienced cyclist now based in Miami. He is training for an ambitious bicycle tour of South America. “Tell people to be careful when bicycling here in Miami,” he warns. Sanchez-Resnik hands him a Green Mobility Network flyer in hopes of recruiting a future advocate.

Exiting the park, we decide to use the bike lane instead of the sidewalk on the north side of 163rd Street. With cars going by so fast and so close, it is unnerving. That unease can be alleviated with a pit stop at the Blue Marlin Fish House. A concession within the park and right on the Oleta River, the Blue Marlin offers smoked fish and cold beer in an open-air setting that is more Florida Keys than North Miami Beach. Very refreshing.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery, on W. Dixie Highway, is officially known as the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. Getting here by bike isn’t so easy, and the monastery itself, like many things in Miami, is imported and somewhat spurious.

Here’s the short version: It was built in Segovia, Spain, during the 12th Century. In 1925 William Randolph Hearst purchased it with the idea of dismantling it stone by stone and bringing it to America. However, Hearst’s fortunes soured and his pile of stones, which had been packed in 11,000 wooden crates, was sold at auction. They sat in storage until the 1950s, when they were brought down here, this time with the idea of putting the thing back together as a tourist attraction.

Now it is a working church but best known for weddings. This is where Alberto Cutie, the Catholic priest caught canoodling with his girlfriend, made her his wife.

Sanchez-Resnik is totally put out that there is absolutely no bike parking anywhere. Not even a post. It’s as if management is saying: Cyclists not welcome. Our verdict: A stop here could be worth it if combined with a picnic, especially with imported goodies from the nearby Laurenzo’s Italian Center.

BikeMap3

Start at East Greynolds Park ► South on Biscayne Boulevard (east sidewalk) to 163rd Street ► East on 163rd Street (north sidewalk) to Oleta River State Park ► Explore park, including mountain-bike trails (registration required) ► Exit park to 163rd Street west (south bike lane, facing traffic) ► West on 163rd Street to Blue Marlin Fish House and kayak concession for pit stop ► Continue west on 163rd Street to W. Dixie Highway ► North on W. Dixie Highway to Ancient Spanish Monastery ► Explore monastery and adjacent Diefenbach Park ► Exit monastery, return to East Greynolds Park.

 

DOWNTOWN / BRICKELL

Cover_8Kathryn Moore, the director of the South Florida Bike Coalition, is my companion for this ride. We meet at Bayfront Park by the enormous (and costly) fountain designed by Isamu Noguchi, who created the entire park. Our ultimate destination: Alice Wainwright Park near Vizcaya.

Cycling south along the park’s pedestrian walkway, we take in views of the bay and the Port of Miami. We don’t know which way to look, at the glistening water or the public art, like the children’s wave sculpture evoking sea life.

We pass by the Julia Tuttle “Mother of Miami” sculpture too quickly to notice that her skirt is decorated with significant Miami images: local flora and fauna, and scenes depicting Native Americans and African Americans, who were among the area’s first settlers. Then we are on the path wrapping around the Intercontinental Hotel and One Miami condo building, from Biscayne Bay to the Miami River. This broad walkway hosts a spectacular collection of public art, including pieces by José Bedia, Edouard Duval Carrié, Michelle Weinberg, Glexis Novoa, and other stars of Miami’s art scene.

From the vantage point of the Brickell Avenue Bridge, we can gaze down upon the mystical Miami Circle, which now looks more like an overgrown, vacant lot. If all goes well, though, work will soon begin on the project that will turn it into a valued and intriguing historic site, open to the public.

Keeping to the east sidewalk, we bike the short distance to Brickell Park, a sliver of green with a pleasant view of the bay and Brickell Key. Next we wiggle through a narrow public-access walkway from Brickell Avenue to the bay, along the south side of the First Presbyterian Church. A bayfront walkway leads us to the Brickell Key Bridge and a leisurely ride around the perimeter of the island on a beautiful path that affords great water views to the south and east.

From here we bike down Brickell Avenue and over to the bustling commercial area along S. Miami Avenue, where we make a pit stop for cool drinks at Mary Brickell Village. On the road again, heading south on S. Miami Avenue, we pass a wall of green that marks the boundary of Simpson Park, a beautiful remnant of the hardwood hammock that covered the entire Brickell neighborhood.

This stretch of S. Miami Avenue, well shaded and lined with grand old homes, boasts the only bike lane of our route, which makes a huge difference in terms of safety. That sense of security ends when we must return to Brickell Avenue and cross the wide river of auto traffic that flows into and out of the Rickenbacker Causeway.

On the other side is a nearly hidden gateway that leads to a quiet and lovely stretch of Brickell Avenue -- and the entrance to Alice Wainwright Park. This park is a true urban oasis, with tropical landscaping, an ancient coral bluff some 20 feet high, and broad vistas of Biscayne Bay. It’s also the perfect place to rest before beginning the trek back up Brickell Avenue to our start point at Bayfront Park.

BikeMap4

Start at Bayfront Park ► South along bayfront to riverwalk and public art ► West on riverwalk and sidewalk to Brickell Avenue Bridge ► South on bridge to view Miami Circle ► South on Brickell Avenue (east sidewalk) to Brickell Park ► Follow park path to Biscayne Bay, then loop back ► South on Brickell Avenue sidewalk to Presbyterian Church (south side) ► East on sidewalk to Biscayne Bay ► South on sidewalk to Brickell Key Drive ► East on Brickell Key Drive to waterfront path at Mandarin Oriental Hotel ► Follow waterfront path around perimeter of Brickell Key ► West on Brickell Key Drive to Brickell Avenue ► South on Brickell Avenue (sidewalk) to SE 10th Street ► West on 10th Street to S. Miami Avenue for pit stop ► South on S. Miami Avenue past Simpson Park (optional stop) ► Continue south on S. Miami Avenue to SE 25th Road ► East on 25th Road to Brickell Avenue ► South on Brickell Avenue (east sidewalk) to Rickenbacker Causeway ► Cross causeway to gated entrance to Brickell Avenue ► South on Brickell Avenue to Alice Wainwright Park ► Explore park and loop back north on Brickell Avenue ► North on Brickell Avenue to start point at Bayfront Park.

 

MIAMI SHORES / EL PORTAL / BISCAYNE PARK

Cover_12Historian, professor, and author Seth Bramson is my guide for this winding ride through El Portal and Miami Shores. There’s only one problem: Bramson doesn’t bike. I don’t know if he even has a bike. His garage is literally crammed to the rafters with Florida memorabilia. If there were a bicycle somewhere in that garage, he would be hard pressed to find it.

Bramson, who lives in Miami Shores, has authored 18 books on South Florida locales, ethnic groups, and railroads. His latest is Hallandale Beach, Florida: For More Than Ninety Years Broward County’s City of Choice. He also leads a walking tour of his neighborhood through the Dade Heritage Trust, and shows me a route that hits scenic and historical highlights in the area.

He recommends we begin at El Portal’s Village Hall (500 NE 87th St.). From there it’s downhill toward the Little River and the hidden community of Sherwood Forest. As the name suggests, Sherwood Forest is a tranquil and lush neighborhood more Georgia than Florida, as Bramson puts it. Spanish moss hangs from 75-foot live oaks. It feels cooler than the rest of the city. There are charming gingerbread houses with chimneys.

On the quiet and residential 85th Street is a site of ancient significance. An elevated circle there is thought to be a burial mound for seventh-century Tequesta Indians. This Miami-Dade County Historic Site is a monument to their civilization. On a bench under the moss-covered trees, bikers can pause and contemplate an area that Bramson tells me was a center of Tequesta life. Declared an historic site in the 1920s, the mound was the first such archeological discovery in the area to be protected with that designation.

We continue along canopied 85th Street, past a riverfront home allegedly owned by rocker Iggy Pop, and double back on 86th Street, then up NE 4th Avenue. A ride through tiny El Portal is a chance to see single-family cottages and bungalows from the 1930s and 1940s, as well as birds that love the river and peacocks that have the run of the place.

At NE 96th Street in Miami Shores we head east toward Biscayne Bay. Past NE 10th Avenue the street becomes Shoreland Boulevard, so named for the Shoreland Company, established in 1923. Those were boom years in the Miami area, and Shoreland capitalized on them by turning pineapple, grapefruit, and coontie farmland into sprawling residential developments. Bramson’s book Boulevard of Dreams comprehensively documents the dramatic changes. Today in the Shores, there are more than 40 historically designated homes built by the Shoreland Company. A number of them can be seen along this ride.

Shoreland Boulevard ends at North Bayshore Park, a narrow, waterfront strip of trimmed grass and benches that provides sweeping views of Biscayne Bay. At this point, along N. Bayshore Drive, we begin to loop back to Miami Shores west of Biscayne Boulevard, along broad streets lined with towering oak trees and beautiful homes built in a wide variety of architectural styles, from English Tudor to colonial Georgian to Mediterranean Revival to Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired modern. (One of the Shores’s most distinctive homes lies east of Biscayne Boulevard, on a cul-de-sac at 9325 N. Bayshore Dr. It is the “Pink House,” one of the first projects of the legendary firm Arquitectonica. Built in 1978 as a home for the parents of one of the firm’s founders, it is a must-see on any architectural tour of Miami.)

As we backtrack on 96th Street, we’re as excited as birdwatchers finding rare species as we come across Shoreland homes. Their quaint architectural touches make them stand out from their 1950s-era neighbors. Excellent examples can be found at these addresses: 9760 5th Avenue Rd., 276 and 273 NE 98th St., 52 NE 98th St., and 284 and 339 NE 96th St.

A former Shoreland Company hotel (421 Grand Concourse) is another part of Miami Shores history. Architect Robert Law Weed designed the expansive building, now a condo, in Mediterranean Revival-style, with arched windows and tiled roof. Shoreland’s original plan called for Grand Concourse to be graced with six luxurious apartment buildings and hotels, and many well-appointed private homes. But the hurricane of 1926 put an end to that dream. Rumors that Al Capone stayed at the hotel, Bramson tells me, are false.

Energetic riders should make the Village of Biscayne Park, 15 blocks north, a detour or even a destination. The area features many cul-de-sacs, well-landscaped streets, verdant medians, and park areas. Those who need to reboot should pedal over to Mooie’s ice cream parlor at the corner of NE 2nd Avenue and 96th Street. After that, it’s an easy ride down NE 5th Avenue and back to El Portal Village Hall.

BikeMap5

Start at El Portal Village Hall ► South on Park Drive to NE 85th Street ► West on 85th Street to junction with 86th Street ► East on 86th Street to NE 4th Avenue ► North on 4th Avenue to 96th Street ► East on 96th Street across Biscayne Boulevard ► Continue east on 96th (now called Shoreland Boulevard) to N. Bayshore Drive ► South on Bayshore Drive to 94th Street ► West on 94th Street to 12th Avenue ► Pink House option: South on 12th Avenue to 93rd Street, east to Bayshore Drive, north on Bayshore Drive to dead end ► North on 12th Avenue to 96th Street ► West on 96th Street to NE 6th Avenue ► North on 6th Avenue to NE 5th Avenue Road ► West on 5th Avenue Road (Shoreland Company house at 9760) ► Continue to 96th Street, then west on 96th Street to NE 4th Avenue ► North on 4th Avenue to 98th Street ► West on 98th Street (Shoreland Company houses at 276, 273) to NE 2nd Avenue ► South on NE 2nd Avenue to 96th Street ► East on 96th Street to NE 5th Avenue ► South on 5th Avenue to 87th Street and El Portal Village Hall.

 


ONLINE RESOURCES

Bike Miami Blog: bikemiamiblog.wordpress.com

Bike Miami Scene: miamibikescene.blogspot.com

Transit Miami Blog: www.transitmiami.com

Green Mobility Network: www.greenmobilitynetwork.org

Spokes ’n’ Folks blog: spokesnfolks.blogspot.com

South Florida Bike Coalition: sfbikecoalition.wordpress.com

Florida Bicycle Association: floridabicycle.org

 

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