Miami Beach Police Keeps it Real
This is a happy story.
It may not seem to start that way:
Straight up- biking in Miami is a challenge.
We come to terms with this and try to ride like traffic- fearless and assertive. Some days are harder than others to keep the resolve. There are multiple ways in which the ride is challenging. Among them are chiefly aggressive traffic and, at times more disconcertingly, a feeling that we are not afforded protection by the authorities responsible for keeping all traffic safe. I’ve heard many a cyclist implore “Where was the police?”
I’ve been hit- and thank goodness its never been an issue. A bent fork here, a bumped shin there- I am thankful for being intact. But in each situation, the conflict was resolved with words between myself and my new acquaintances. No interventions.
Stories get told from all around the perspective on law enforcement and its knowledge or interest in bicycle issues and rider safety. Everyone I speak to seems to have an opinion- mostly critical.
So here’s our happy story, for a wonderful change of tone:
Last Saturday, @EmergeMiami and friends took our 3rd Annual Sweet Treats ride, and it was fantastic! We hit up Wynwood and the Beach, and brought tasty love to all of our 60 or so riders. Thanks go out to Blissberry Yogurt, The Frieze Ice Cream, and Panther Coffee, for making our ride a memorable sampling of Miami’s finest snack shoppes!
But I digress, this is a happy story about seeing roadway protection at work.
Our ride took us up Meridian on the Beach, through a lovely shaded strip along Flamingo Park, which was both beautiful to observe and a welcome cool down from an otherwise tepid midday sun. Our riders kept a great pace, chatting and comparing notes on Miami stuff. We took up the lane, as group rides do, while working hard to maintain roadway decorum. We corralled our riders to their allocated road space and stopped at the lights, the signs, and so forth.
As we got to 16th, some malcontented motorist, ironically driving Smartcar, drove in a most unintelligent manner and figured there was no better time than the present to tear up to the left in the oncoming traffic lane and vivisect our group to make a circuitous right.
As one rider, Ahmad, puts it, the driver “decided to take a right turn into us from the wrong side of the street- right in the middle of the pack…she brushed my elbow and that’s when she stopped and I got right in front of her”.
Brushed elbows and disrupted rides- when does this get happy?
Enter the Miami Beach Police Department.
Ahmad continues: “The cop, he saw it, pulled it right over and said ‘I got this. I saw everything.’ I feel good about it- I’m glad the cop was there.”
We agree, Ahmad.
This was a gratifying moment in bicycle riding. The Police stepped in a supported, and thankfully the incident did not require emergencies or enduring agonies- except, perhaps, for the Smartcar who couldn’t wait a minute.
Here’s what I find most satisfying about this situation. We’ve got a reputation as a city that shuns it roadway responsibilities, Miami, and we are working hard to overcome it with advocacy, facilities, and initiatives. Still, each effort these days feels like a response to a tragedy. We’ve chocked up a growing collection of hit-and-runs, we’ve organized our share of memorial rides and ghost bike dedication for crash victims, and the question is asked again and again: “Where is our protection?”
So this wasn’t an extravagant encounter on Meridian, but it was a spectacular validation- there was protection. A Miami Beach Police Officer- I wish I knew his or her name- saw an incident and did something about it. I don’t know what the outcome was- word came to us at the front of the group that we were cool and were told to ride on. But I do know what those flashing blue and red lights I saw meant, and it was good for us.
We saw a response to a clear infraction: a bully in a car bending the rules in a clearly unbalanced risk between automobile and bicyclists.
We would have been on the losing end of this conflict, if not for protection from Beach Police.
I am thankful they represented.