Gables declares ‘bike day’ this Sunday

When you visit Miracle Mile this Sunday, here’s some friendly advice: leave your car, truck or motorcycle at home.

Much of downtown Coral Gables will be an auto-free zone from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing cyclists, skateboarders and pedestrians more room to maneuver through the entire stretch of Miracle Mile and a good chunk of Ponce de Leon Boulevard – from Miracle Mile to Fred B. Harnett Ponce Circle Park.

The reason: the inaugural Gables Bike Day.

“This is all a volunteer effort. We think this is important for the Gables, to make it a more cycling friendly city,” said Robert Ruano, chairman of the Gables Bike Day Committee that has organized the event. “We want people to get used to seeing people on bicycles, for riders to know the rules of the road, for people to get to know one another and become cycling advocates in the future.”

Gables Bike Day is free and open to the public.

It is the most recent event in a string of developments aimed at making Coral Gables a more bike friendly city. In May, the City Commission and Miami-Dade County signed a pact to improve a bridge spanning the waterway between Cocoplum Circle and Ingraham Park in the southern part of the city. Pedestrians and cyclists use the bridge. Construction will start this fall.

The bridge is part of the Commodore Bike Trail that will link one bike path on Douglas Road to a second path on Old Cutler Road.

Meanwhile, the city administration is exploring a shared bike program, similar to the one in Miami Beach but on a smaller scale, according to Assistant City Manager Maria Alberro Menendez.

The city is in the process of reviewing possible sites, she added.

Under the Beach’s DecoBike program, residents and visitors can rent bikes for a small fee from automated kiosks scattered around the city.

Sunday’s event, taking a cue from the popular Bike Miami Days, is meant to have a more immediate impact — to show people the benefits of getting around without a car.

From hourly bike tours departing near Coral Gables City Hall to demonstrations of bike polo and lessons on how to use the proper gear, cyclists of all levels will find plenty to do.

And even people who don’t have a bike will be able to rent one for free for an hour, courtesy of the company that runs the shared bike program in Miami Beach.

Bike tours include a 90-minute University of Miami tour, a 60-minute landmarks tour, a 30-minute city tour and a 30-minute haunted hotel tour. People have to sign up for the tours at a registration table on the corner of Le Jeune Road and Miracle Mile.

The organizing committee has rounded up a diverse group of sponsors such as UHealth, the Florida Marlins, the Coral Gables Museum, the Coral Gables Rotary Club and others.

Gables Bike Day differs in several respects from Bike Miami Days, an initiative that former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz started in 2008 to promote bicycling in Miami, Ruano said.

“We wanted to add a designated children’s area,” he said. “And instead of having concessions, we are working closely with local restaurants and the Coral Gables Business Improvement District.”

Ruano credits Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera for forming the Gables Cycling Committee. Its members, including Ruano, came up with the idea of Gables Bike Day.

For those who don’t want to ride, organizers encourage walking and skateboarding. And they’ve provided a wide range of activities for families.

At Fred B. Harnett Ponce Circle Park, there will be a stage where people can watch performances by actors affiliated with shows at the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theater. The music band Elastic Bond and folk singer Bobby Ingram will also perform.

At the corner of Le Jeune Road and Miracle Mile, people can register for a scavenger hunt. There will also be a farmer’s market nearby, sponsored by Earth Learning.

On Salzedo Street, Miami Bike Polo, a local sports league, will play matches every hour. Its members will teach people how to play in between matches.

By the Douglas Road entrance of Miracle Mile, there will be a dedicated children’s area with games, cartoon characters and bounce houses. In the same area, the Green Mobility Network and Bike Safe will create a bike safety course for children. And bikers and skaters will show off their skills on ramps and obstacle courses brought by Jay Ramps and One Cool World.

Finally, there will be free yoga classes in the green space next to Barnes & Noble, courtesy of Green Monkey Yoga Studio.

“It’s a day to have fun,” said John Hopkins, executive director of Green Mobility Network, a group that promotes non-motorized forms of transportation. “We expect a lot of parents to bring their kids out. We expect to see teenagers who like to skateboard and bicycle.”

Source: The Miami Herald