Richard A. Cahlin will not tell you he is “over the hill,” but he will say that as he approaches that proverbial hill, he figured it would be easier on his physique to get there on a bike rather than by running.
Today the retired distance runner and CPA — who averages about 75 to 80 miles weekly on his road bike — also chairs the City of Miami Bike Action Committee private/ public partnership. The group currently is selling biking jerseys and shorts designed with the Coral Gables city seal in order to promote bike safety and fund bicycle racks in the City Beautiful.
“About three years ago a group of us started to get together once a month to promote bike safety and awareness,” Cahlin said. “It’s like school lunches, no one is against bike safety but as an initiative it can be a very difficult task.”
The group of city employees and avid bikers decided a light-hearted way to push for the cause would be to sell biking gear and use the proceeds to enhance bike safety in the sponsoring municipality.
According to Trenda Mcpherson, State Bicycle Safety Program manager with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), biking fatalities in Florida have gone down from a high of 126 in 2008 to 83 in 2010 (most recent available numbers). In Miami-Dade County there were 527 bicyclists injured and seven killed in traffic accidents in 2010 according to figures from David Henderson, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator with the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Office.
The City of Miami sponsored the first Bike Action Committee campaign where 100 biking outfits were sold with the city seal and the proceeds went to support the mountain biking trail on Virginia Key. The spandex-style outfits are made locally by Veloce Speedwear and range in cost from $75 to $200. Company logos are placed on the outfit as they would appear on a racecar driver’s uniform and logo placement cost varies depending on donation.
Cahlin recently made a presentation to the Village of Pinecrest and was approved so he will be starting a campaign there soon. The presentation to South Miami also met with approval from commissioners, but the initiative has been stalled due to an insistence by city attorney Thomas Pepe that the outfits be insured.
“South Miami approved us but they are quite a dysfunctional group,” Cahlin said. “The city attorney said we needed insurance for the clothing and would not grant final approval without it, but I couldn’t find an insurance company to take me seriously about that request.”
FDOT’s “Alert Today Alive Tomorrow” pilot program conducted a one month analysis of pedestrian and biker safety in Miami-Dade County. From a survey of 4,084 individuals, it determined that 85 percent of bicyclists are male, 86.5 percent do not wear helmets, 90 percent did not use lights at night (a statutory requirement) and only 22.5 percent were riding correctly against traffic. They also found that 44.5 percent of motorists in Dade County do not yield to pedestrians or bicyclists.
Cahlin has traveled the country on biking adventures to Maine, California, Vermont, but says the best riding is right here in South Florida.
“Key Biscayne is one of the most beautiful rides, across the bridge with water on both sides; it doesn’t get much better than that. We have the most beautiful weather year round to take advantage of cycling, and make it safe.”
To find out more about the City of Miami Bike Action Committee, contact bicycle coordinator Collin Worth at 305-416-1022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org