Friday, April 26, 2013

Miami by Bicycle and Metrorail

Miami has a decent little light rail system. Metrorail runs north and south through the city and west to the airport. Fares are reasonable, and there is free WiFi on the trains. (The little Metromover is a second system which runs a loop in basically the downtown and Brickell area. It's free.)

And, like systems in other major cities, you can take bicycles on the trains.

Metrorail train crossing the Miami River.
There's another neat factor for Al and me. Dangerous older drivers were the scourge of cycling life in our old rural area. People retired there, and, when they began having problems driving, the lack of public transportation alternatives kept them out there on the roads despite serious vision problems, the effects of strokes and illnesses, and even mild dementia. Miami has a program which keeps a lot of these elderly loose cannons off the roads. Miami gives out Golden Passport transit cards to permanent Miami residents over the age of 65. To get one, you just turn up at Government Center, stand in line for a good while, and show them your filled out application and the required documentation. They take your picture, and you sit around for a good while more. Then (voila!) they hand you your photo ID Golden Passport transit card. What, you ask, does this piece of plastic do for Miami's older citizens? Well, it lets them ride Metrorail and all the buses absolutely free. Which means there is a viable option for aging drivers who need to give up driving. They don't have to lose their independence or be trapped in their homes. They can take a train or bus to visit family and friends, do shopping, see their doctors, or whatever else they want to do. And all with no stigma or hassle.

Al and I have begun using Metrorail. A station is just a couple of short blocks from our building. Two of the shopping centers we like, Dadeland and Sunset Place, are adjacent to Metrorail stations. Between these two malls and the downtown area (which is an easy walk from our home), most all our shopping needs are met. Our next goal is to use Metrorail and our bikes when we want to eat out in other areas of the city.

And there is a third goal. Years ago I planned a trip to South Florida. I wanted to take Amtrak to Miami, transfer to Metrorail, take Metrorail south across the heart of Miami, then take the East Coast Greenway down to Key West. That spring we opted to tour Louisiana instead. (Where we got very fat eating wonderful Creole and Cajun food. I think we rode home for days through Florida, eating almost nothing, before our riding clothes fit comfortably again.) Now I'm revisiting my ideas on using Metrorail on a bicycle tour. I'm thinking I may use Metrorail to leapfrog over a lot of Miami when we head out touring. It would be an alternative for trips when we really wanted to save a little time.

It would work nicely...

Metrorail Map for Miami