Posted November 16, 2012
By MARI CENTENO
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Miami Beach is a city that never stops. Featuring trendy gift shops, ocean side restaurants and bars, and people everywhere, it is popular with both locals and tourist, filling the streets as they make their way each day.
For most people who live on Miami Beach, getting around is pretty easy.
Many choose not to have a car because they find it unnecessary, because parking is a hassle, and often expensive, traffic is frustrating, and they can pretty much get around very easily by walking or catching one of the many cabs.
Although many locals already have alternative ways to get around the beach, such as; skateboarding, rollerblading, and mopeds, there is another alternative, fun and easy way to get around the beach: bicycling.
Now, bicycling has been around for years. However, tourists don’t want to purchase a good quality bike during a short vacation trip. With the introduction of DECOBIKE in March 2011, getting around Miami Beach on a bicycle has become an easier and affordable thing to do for many.
DECOBIKE is a Miami-based company dedicated to providing a public bike-sharing program. There are approximately 1,000 custom DECOBIKES and 100 plus solar-powered, automated DECOSTATIONS throughout Miami. These bikes encourage both tourist and locals to get around and see the city in a fun and healthy way.
I drive to, in and around South Beach at least four times a week, sometimes for work and sometimes for fun. I constantly see pedestrians, people roller blading, riding bicycles and mopeds every time I’m there. You have to be very careful when driving on South Beach because people can come out of nowhere.
On this particular day, I had one thing in mind—to do everything I needed to do on South Beach via a DECOBIKE. I parked in a parking garage on 7th Street right in between Washington Avenue and Collins Avenue.
This parking garage was very convenient because there was a DECOSTATION on 7th Street next to the garage.
Now this was my first time using the DECOBIKE’s and I was unaware of the membership options. After looking over choices, I decided to rent my bike for one hour, which cost me $5, to see how much I could get done during this time. I followed the instructions, which were very easy to follow, and was on my way in minutes.
The bikes are a little heavy, but they’re easy to maneuver. They have a cute little basket in the front, where you can store personal items, or even a small dog if you choose to do so. I haven’t ridden a bike in quite a few years, so I had a rough start, but after my body finally remembered the movements of bike riding, I was ready to cruise around South Beach.
I made my way down 7th Street and turned left on Collins Avenue, mind you this is one of the busiest streets on South Beach. I was a little nervous at first, so I started by riding on the sidewalk, but that was a big mistake because a bicycle doesn’t exactly fit on a sidewalk when there are people walking by in all directions, needless to say, I almost crashed a couple of times.
I finally got the courage to get off the sidewalk, but I found myself riding too close to the cars parked on the street, so I kept having to swerve around them so I wouldn’t hit them with my handle bars. It is a little nerve wracking in the beginning because there is traffic everywhere. There are cars and people coming from all directions, and although pedestrians may have the right away, it’s always important to think safety first and double look before crossing a street.
Now I knew where I needed to go, but since I didn’t have a printed map of all the DECOSTATIONs on South Beach I kind had to ride around looking for a DECOSTATION near my first stop. However, this wasn’t a difficult task, there are plenty of DECOSTATIONs all over South Beach and I was able to locate one nearby. I arrived at the station, jumped off my bike, and followed the instructions to dock my bike.
After my first destination, I decided to walk down Washington Avenue in case I noticed anything trendy to buy at one of the local shops. Since my rental period was for one hour and it took me about eight minutes to arrive to my first destinations, I decided to pick up another bike on the corner of Washington Avenue and 15th Street.
A huge plus with these bikes is that my credit card acts as an access card for all stations during my rental period, so I can pick up and drop off my bike at any station until I’ve consumed my rental time.
I decided to meet a friend for a quick bite so I followed the instructions once more, retrieved my bike and was on my way, but this time I had a little more distance to cover. This time I started my bike ride smoothly, and made my way down 15th Street towards Alton Road. 15th Street is a fairly busy street, with cars and people going in both directions.
My ride from Washington Avenue to Alton Road took about 13 minutes.
This time around I was a little bit more comfortable with my bike and was driving like a pro, swerving left and right, ringing my bike bell, and saying excuse me to those around me.
I followed all traffic laws, stopping at red lights, yielding for those walking and signaled with my arms if I was turning left or right.
Once I arrived on Alton Road, I made a left and rode along Alton Road until I reached 11th Street. Alton Road is a fairly busy road with cars, but not too many pedestrians, which means I could have easily enjoyed the sidewalk to myself. However, I didn’t. I stayed on the street, along with the cars until I reached my DECOSTATION destination.
As soon as I docked my bike I noticed that my heart was pumping a little faster than the first ride, and my forehead was a little wet, this excited me for more than one reason. For one, I was able to get around the beach without worrying about looking for parking, and being stuck in traffic, because I could easily maneuver myself out of a long traffic line. I was also excited because, I just realized I was running all my errands and getting a workout at the same time, this just saved me a trip to the gym.
By the time I was done eating, the sun had begun to set and the time on my DECOBIKE had already ran out. Not a bad $5 spent to ride around South Beach in a quick and efficient way. I decided to pick up another bike for 30 minutes for $4, just enough to make it to my car and maybe add a quick stop in between.
Riding after sunset is a little bit more risky than during the day time, but the bike is well equipped with safety requirements to accommodate both day and night time riding. I made my way back towards 7th Street and Washington, this time riding a little bit more cautiously than before. I arrived to the DECOSTATION closest to my car and decided to dock my bike with a few minutes to spare.
IF YOU GO
- Hourly rentals vary, and they start from as low as 30 minutes to a full day pass with a price range of $4 to $24.
- If you go past your rental term, each additional 30 minutes is $4.
- Planning ahead will save you time and money. Visit DECOBIKE.COM for a downloadable map of all the DECOSTATIONs.
- If you’re a resident, a standard monthly membership BIKEPASS with unlimited free 30-minute rides is $15.
There are two options to enjoying the DECOBIKES. Hourly rentals allow you to keep your bike for the whole rental period. You can pick up DECOBIKE at any of the easy to use stations.
Renting a bike is very easy. First, insert your credit card and choose how long your desired rental period is. Second, select a bike and enter its four-digit bike number.
Third, when retrieving your bike, push the bike forward and then backwards to release it.
Enjoy your ride! When finished, you can ride anywhere on Miami Beach, and drop off the bike at any of the DECOSTATIONS in Miami Beach.
Another great option, and one that makes DECOBIKE’s so special, is the bike sharing membership program. This membership allows a membership member to rent any bike from any station all day.
As a bonus, the first 30 minutes of every ride is included free and it resets each you time you dock your bicycle at one of the stations, this is specially convenient for those going on quick trips. When docked, the bike is then available for the next person to use.