Day 5: 74 miles from Miami Beach to Key Largo

Sometimes Florida surprises cyclists, and I mean that in a good way.

Sometimes Florida surprises you, and I mean that in a good way.

Today we had lots of trail. Not in the wooded, shady way but in the separated from three lanes of crazy traffic on U.S. 1 kind of way. First, though, we had to get out of Miami Beach and into Miami. We had more of that lovely beachfront trail in Miami Beach — the Atlantic Greenway — down to the tip of Miami Beach, past some of the amazing Art Deco buildings and then back north to the MacArthur Causeway Bridge.

Then came the bike lane on the bridge next to rush-hour traffic. All you can do is ride in a group and keep hoping that Florida traffic engineers actually get on a bike one day and think about ways to make this better.

Once in Miami, we slowly made our way to the Metroline, Miami’s version of Chicago’s L (as in elevated train). Under the tracks is a paved path, now called the M-Line but that will one day be the 10-mile Underline. It’s not a fast ride — too many road crossings and train stations for that — but so much better than the road.

Pretty cool art here, even if the artist doesn’t know how to play dominoes:

And check out these bike lockers (free; just bring your own lock):

Plus as we loitered by the South Miami Metroline station (someone wanted food but didn’t have a dollar for the vending machine), we met Rob, a firefighter and cyclist who invited us back to the station to fill our water bottles with ice cold water. (Really, it doesn’t take much to make a cyclist happy.) When we all trouped in with our bikes, his fellow firefighters immediately knew who’d let us in. And Rob made sure we met others, including his chief. Thank you, Rob, and remember, there is family-friendly biking in New Jersey.

After the M-Line came the South Dade Trail. It ran parallel (but separated from) the busway, a dedicated road for buses, one lane in each direction. Yes, more road crossings and traffic lights than we’d like. But all we had to do was look left and see three busy lanes in each direction on U.S. 1 to know we had it good. No stress for 20 miles!

And, look, more trails!

This all seems even more surprising given that Florida doesn’t have a Complete Streets policy (add sidewalks and bike lanes where feasible as part of road works to make infrastructure work for all users) and the state transportation department’s design guidelines don’t call for even trying to create protected bike lanes. Nor do they seem to be busy putting up East Coast Greenway signage.

We did take a little detour to Robert Is Here, a South Florida fruit stand known for its smoothies. In New Jersey we have lots of farm stands with tomatoes, corn, zucchini and more. This one had tomatoes, passion fruit, Key limes and more. What’s a guanabana? Should I have tried it?

What surprises me is there aren’t fruit stands everywhere in south Florida the way there are farm stands everywhere in central Jersey. And if I could sell my banana bread (or banana cake or chocolate zucchini cake) as mini loaves for $5.90 apiece…

Finally! We’re in the Keys! It took a while, but we finally got a nice tailwind PLUS new asphalt when we reached County Road 905. We were sailing!

My ride buddies

Just two more days and we will be in Key West, 3,000 miles from the start of the East Coast Greenway at the Canadian border in eastern Maine. Learn more about this route connecting cities for runners, walkers and cyclists here. And if you want to support the ride and the effort for safe routes away from traffic, the East Coast Greenway fundraising link is here.

For another rider’s perspective, click here.

Author: alliumstozinnias

A gardener (along with the Brit) who has discovered there is more than hybrid tomatoes. And a cyclist.

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