Partnering with WHEELS
Earlier this month, South Miami was simultaneously the site of both a unique and inspiring first-of-its-kind regional event – WHEELS Florida – and an ECGA tradition– the annual Fall State of the Greenway Summit.
When ECGA Southeast Consultant, Herb Hiller, encouraged the ECGA to host the 2015 ECGA Fall Summit in Miami, he didn’t know it would become a catalyst for local trail advocates to create a five-day mega-event showcasing the region’s progress and vision for multi-modal transit. Yet that’s exactly what happened.
WHEELS Florida Chair Victor Dover and Bike SoMi Co-Chair Maricé Chael are a husband and wife duo from South Miami, FL. Both are architects and urban planners, and both are passionate about green mobility solutions for their city.
Many active and sustainable transportation advocates including Victor, Maricé, Meg Daly (Founder-President of Friends of the Underline, Miami’s 10-mile linear park and urban trail below the Metrorail), and Herb poured their knowledge, and countless hours, into creating WHEELS Florida, a 5-day mega-event filled with rides, walks, talks, and the East Coast Greenway Alliance Fall Summit.
Turning Up the Heat
WHEELS events kicked off on Wednesday, November 11, with a pre-conference symposium on Miami’s cycling heroes. This included a presentation on Reviving the Florida Bicycling Movement in the Late 20th Century with historians Arva Parks and Pam Lahiff, ECGA Southeast Consultant, Herb Hiller, and fellow Bike Florida co-founder, Linda Crider.
More ECGA trustees, Advisory Board members, and trail staff arrived in sunny Miami by Thursday, in time to peel off some fall layers and attend the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Kirk Munroe, an early Miami cycling hero and co-founder of the League of American Wheelmen in 1880. The League became the first national cycling advocacy group, later becoming the League of American Bicyclists.
By Friday, WHEELS was in full swing, with afternoon presentations on green mobility from some of our national leaders. Keynote speaker Ryan Gravel, founder of Sixpitch and originator of the Atlanta Beltline, emphasized the way in which infrastructure and the built environment dramatically influence the lives we create.
Dan Burden, Director of Innovation & Inspiration of Blue Zones and founder of Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, spoke about how communities can make the leap to sustainable transportation. Andy Clarke (retired president, League of American Bicyclists, current Director of Strategy, Toole Design Group) shared insight on the current cycling movement in the U.S. and what’s coming next.
Members of the ECGA team rounded out the afternoon. Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano focused on the greenway as a solution to climate change, since Miami is the epicenter of the threat of sea level rise on coastal cities. Advisory Board Member Kevin Hicks presented on the unique and important ways that active and physical mobility promote social mobility.
Earlier that morning, ECGA trustees, advisory board members, and staff held a productive strategic planning session to further develop our organizational goals for the path ahead. More information will be presented in the first quarter of 2016.
Friday evening the ECGA and WHEELS co-hosted a lovely reception at the Tropical Audubon Society, an oasis of natural beauty in the heart of downtown South Miami. We were fortunate to spend more time engaging and celebrating with our colleagues and partners.
The focus Saturday morning was on state and regional progress. This included a panel discussion with local trails leaders, including W. Dale Allen, Executive Director, Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation and ECGA Trustee. Dale’s presentation focused on strategy leading to a statewide system of regional trails for Florida.
The ECGA Summit continued Saturday afternoon with regional reports from ECGA trail staff – who reported on advances in trail development and wayfinding signs – and an update from our Communications Coordinator, Vanessa Roth. We also honored David Read, who has served as our Board Chair for the past five years, and held our 2015 Trustee elections during our Annual Membership Meeting.
The day concluded with an insightful panel discussion around on-road routing with ECGA Advisory Board members Chuck Flink, a greenway planning expert; Andy Clarke, past President of the League of American Bicyclists; and Jeff Olson, highly respected greenway planner and co-founder of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.
Thank you to everyone who made our 2015 Fall State of the Greenway Summit a great success! We were honored and delighted to have our Summit be part of WHEELS.
Huge kudos to our fabulous Florida Consultant, Herb Hiller; WHEELS Chair, Victor Dover, Bike SoMi Co-Chair Marice Chael, Underline MIA Founder, Meg Daly, and all the many WHEELS organizers! They worked tirelessly for over a year creating an event that educated and encouraged people to choose active transportation and to celebrate Miami’s bicycling, walking, transit, and trails. Thanks also to Mack Cycle for providing the ECGA team with loaner bicycles.
WHEELS was supported by many government, business, and civic leaders in the region, including the City of South Miami, FDOT – Alert Today/Alive Tomorrow, and the Miami Foundation – who along with the ECGA – were WHEELS’ hosts and major partners.
Thank you to Roar Media who did a tremendous job publicizing the event. Here are some of the top media hits related to Florida’s green mobility movement:
- Miami Herald: A Triumph Over Traffic? New Ways for Bikes to Beat Cars on the Miami Commute
- Miami Herald: Summit Will Kick of Major Car-Free Event to Promote the Use of Bicycles and Mass Transit
- Florida Villager: WHEELS Unites Thousands of South Floridians Ready to Get Out of Their Cars for Local Travel
- Local10.com: Get Healthy and Save Money with South Miami, South Florida WHEELS