I’m not crazy about Fort Lauderdale, but I find it fine for riding around on a bicycle. To begin with it is as flat as a pancake, no, flatter. The closest things to a hill are the bridges that cross the New River. The Interstate highways don’t cut the city into pieces. US. 1 is tame within the city.
Many local businesses and facilities have bike racks. This includes the Main Library, Publix, MacDonald’s Hardware, the Bally Matrix Health Club, and even the local Sunrise Cinema. Strangely the U.S. Post office didn’t. When I mentioned this absence to the employees, they gave me that look normally reserved for the pitifully stupid.
With a bike, I could explore the RiverWalk that runs through the center of Fort Lauderdale. The RiverWalk is an area along the New River that has been set aside for parks and historical buildings. It begins at the historic Stranahan House and winds along the river to the Broward Center for the Performing arts. In between you can find restaurants, museums, and cultural events. This can include Jazz on a Sunday afternoon, movies in the park after dark.
When on my bike, I could stop to admire a building or investigate and event without blocking traffic. I never had to search for parking even on the trendiest parts of East Las Olas Blvd. Even the beach was in reach by bike.
There are a number of bike lanes in Fort Lauderdale’s center core where I was riding. At other times I found the sidewalks more convenient. Fortunately in most places the sidewalk is modified for bikes and wheelchairs at most intersections. Since almost no one walks in this city, you can ride the sidewalk without a care.
That doesn’t mean the sidewalks are ideal for riding. The city officials have decided that the sidewalks are the ideal place for posts, fire hydrants, and other obstacles. Along U.S. 1, you will find posts to support the traffic lights. These posts are about eighteen inches in diameter and smack in the middle of the sidewalk giving you about a foot on either side. It must be a fearful city for the blind to walk.
On the whole, despite the warnings from the natives, I have found the drivers patient and forgiving. None have intentionally tried to run me off the road, or else they were extremely inept at it. The traffic in the downtown core isn’t bad, except for the peak of rush hour, which lasts less than an hour.
Public transit in Fort Lauderdale is also bike friendly. All the city buses are fitted with a bike carrier in the front. With the cost of a bus ride only one dollar, you can use them to stretch your travel distance.
If you consider a thirty-minute bike ride acceptable, most of the city is within your reach. You can ride from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the beach in about that time.
For a bicyclist, Fort Lauderdale is surprisingly accessible for an American city.
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