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Living, Working, and Biking in Miami
March 26, 2007 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I may be moving to Miami and was wondering about neighborhoods, working in healthcare, and biking as transportation.

I've done searches on this stuff, and people asked somewhat different questions about neighborhoods than I will. I will be going to community college to do the prerequisites for nursing. I'd like to live near school, but also could take public transit or bike ( I won't have a car). In terms of neighborhoods I don't want to really live in a hip or gentrified area. That being said I grew up in LA and don't want to live in a totally dangerous area. Where's a decent place to live for working class people that's reasonably central, near public transit, etc.

I want to work in healthcare doing doing direct patient care, and have a little tiny bit of experience, but no certification as an CMA or something. Does anyone have experience there? I'd like to work/be trained as a Medical Assistant as I wait to hear back from nursing schools. In Oregon you can work for planned parenthood along those lines. I don't speak spanish fluently unfortunately.

How is Miami for biking? Dangerous? Commuting?
posted by aussicht to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (15 answers total)
 
If you're going to community college then that's my old employer, Miami-Dade Community College. Well, that was their name when I worked there - now it's just Miami-Dade College, apparently.

Depending on if you're just doing a straight AA or some flavor of AS you may or may not be at the Medical Center campus which is located in the downtown area. There's a lot of housing to be had in that area that's fairly affordable in pretty much every compass direction and pretty close, too.

For commuting it's just gonna suck, though coming from LA I don't think you'll find it any worse. For your biking - assuming you mean for leisure, not for transportation - there's places to do it pretty close. East right over what I have always thought of as the "better" causeway you have Miami Beach and a lot of choices, to the south in the Biscayne area again, lots of biking over on the Key or in the Matheson Hammock/Coral Gables region. In both cases you'll want to toss your bike in the trunk to get there. I've never biked along the bay on the downtown waterfront so I don't know how you'd find it over there.

If you're not necessarily at the Medical Center campus then you have a lot of other choices. If you'll be moving on to FIU you might want to aim for Kendall campus and try to live somewhere between FIU south and MDCC-Kendall, assuming you want to stay in the same place over time.

You say you don't speak spanish fluently - do you speak it at all? If you're going to live in Miami and look for work that competency makes a world of difference.
posted by phearlez at 11:13 AM on March 26, 2007


Thanks that is helpful. I did mean biking as commuting actually *blush*, but the public transit is decent in Miami right? I'm coming from Portland which has OK transit, but excellent bike-commuting.

I was conversational in spanish in California, but have forgotten most of it. I can comprehend much of it, but hopefully would take an immersion class before working/school in Miami.
posted by aussicht at 11:21 AM on March 26, 2007


Miami is generally dismal for biking. It's dangerous to drive in Miami, let alone be on a bike. I bike around South Beach (where I live) all the time, but wouldn't bike from South Beach to many other locations bc there are few bike-friendly routes, and bc drivers can be so crazy. Same goes for many - but not all - other parts of Miami.

Tell us where you're going to study and we can give you much better advice about any neighborhoods that fit your needs.

Public transportation is generally terrible in Miami too. I take public transportation from South Beach to downtown, but I'm one of the few. And it's frustrating. I guess you may be used to frustrating transportation, coming from LA, though. Getting anywhere besides my work commute is very frustrating too. If I knew I were staying here long term, I would have bought a clunker just to save myself a lot of frustration, and also to allow me to enjoy South Florida. I have access to someone else's car for those sorts of things, and that has been my saving grace.

If you have other questions about Miami, I can try to answer them here. I can give you doctor recommendations, and other tips. You could also email me - email's in the profile.
posted by Amizu at 11:21 AM on March 26, 2007


(And by 'biking is dismal' I do mean commuting. There's good biking for pleasure - once you drive someplace safe/accessible.) Others may disagree - but this has been my impression of Miami transit.

My view that Miami Dade transit stinks is coming from DC and Boston, FWIW. But I think it's barely usable. I have heard that something like 4% of people use it. I'm not sure if that's Miami or Florida, but in any case it's a low percentage. There just aren't many options, and they are not terribly reliable.

Definitely take an immersion class! If you look arguably hispanic, you'll probably be spoken to in Spanish anyway. I don't look remotely Hispanic so people don't usually speak to me in Spanish (and I do speak Spanish), but my boyfriend has darker hair and skin (a bit), and doesn't speak Spanish, and usually is spoken to in Spanish. I wish people would speak to me in Spanish, bc it would be good for me - so many opportunities to speak Spanish in Miami.
posted by Amizu at 11:26 AM on March 26, 2007


If you end up studying near downtown Miami and will live not far from a Metrorail station you got it made. The Metrorail is great but it doesn't go everywhere..... I believe you can take your bike inside also.
Good Luck!
posted by FLHunter3006 at 11:34 AM on March 26, 2007


It looks like I could take my last prereqs at any of a number of campuses:

MDC Wolfson Campus
300 N.E. 2nd Avenue
Miami, Fl 33132

Interamerican
627 SW 27th Ave.
Miami, FL. 33135-2937

Homestead and Hialeah

Eventually I want to transfer to U of Miami, but that would be in a year from now.
posted by aussicht at 11:45 AM on March 26, 2007


I wouldn't recommend biking as a reliable commuting option in Miami.

As mentioned above the traffic is HORRIBLE. There are no bike lanes. Also, for much of the year it is intensely hot and humid. If you don't mind showing up pouring sweat, I guess it's okay. But also keep in mind that throughout the summer it rains often, and often very, very heavily. Thunder, lightning and the roads flood a lot.

I don't own a car, and I don't even really like cars. But the years I lived in Miami I had one. You pretty much absolutely need one, I'm sorry to say. If you can live very near school/work, or figure out a bus option, maybe. But the public transport options are not good.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:17 PM on March 26, 2007


I grew up in Miami... moved away in '91, but still visit every year or two.

The suburbs, where I lived, are terrible for transit. It's a very sprawly kind of place.

Miami Beach is denser and more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. It's also somewhat more expensive. The only transit there is buses... not sure how good they are.

I understand that people are moving back into some of the core urban areas (the Design District north of downtown).

If you could position yourself, and your job, close to Metrorail, or the Metromover (the people-mover system that serves downtown), you'd be in good shape, but this would be tricky.

There are long-term plans for expanding Metrorail -- building a few new lines into the northern part of the city, and out west into the suburbs -- but I don't know when these will actually be realized.

There's also been talk of some kind of streetcar that would connect Miami Beach to the mainland. Some anti-transit idiots keep trying to sabotage this project, IIRC.

It's tragic, because so many foreign tourists come to Miami and would love to use transit to get around. Links between the mainland and the beach, and between the airport and the seaport, seem like no-brainers, but they have languished on the drawing boards for decades.

I usually check in on the Miami transit situation every year or so... I'll have to go start Googling this afternoon.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:21 PM on March 26, 2007


Feel free to contact me, as well. I currently work in downtown Miami, have quite a few friends on the beach, and even know someone in the HR department at Vitas hospice care (based in Miami). But don't be fooled into thinking that (a) Miami is bike-friendly, or (b) we have a mass transit system. I can cheerfully recommend the Transit Miami blog for a good overview of the situation.

[Hey, Artifice! When are you coming down to check out the situation personally, guy?]
posted by mkhall at 1:10 PM on March 26, 2007


Hey, mkhall! Hopefully sometime this year... and with mi esposa in tow, natch. We are desperately in need of a Cuban food transfusion.

That Transit Miami blog looks good. I like the tagline:

"Transit Miami is dedicated to the Transit and Urban Planning issues which plague the Greater Miami Region."

The fact that they use "plague" as the key word says it all.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2007


Commuting by bike in Florida is bearable about three months out of the year. The rest of the time just walking tempts heat stroke.
posted by konolia at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2007


If you do rely on public transportation, you could live in the Design District (which is gentrifying, but not yet complete), and take a couple of buses to the Wolfson MDC Campus. This Miami Dade Transit website will be your friend. In particular, the Trip Planner. I plugged in an address in the Design District and the Wolfson Campus, and came up with this info (for going to school at 9:30 tomorrow morning):

Sorted by: Trip Duration
Trip Route(s) Depart Arrive Duration Transfer Walk Fare

1 9*So 9:46a 10:01a 15 0 0.44 miles $1.50
2 10*So 9:31a 9:46a 15 0 0.44 miles $1.50

I know you don't want to live in a hip or gentrified area, but South Beach has so many perks, and it's not that much longer transportation-wise than the Design District. Just sayin'. Some parts of it are plenty run down, if that's what you're after (middle of South Beach, mainly). Rent is still generally a bit cheaper in the Design District than in South Beach, but the Design District is turning into an ultra-pricey design store kind of place, and South Beach still has a sort of seedy underbelly.
posted by Amizu at 1:46 PM on March 26, 2007


mm. miami is probably better than tampa, where i live, but florida is sort of known for its inordinately high pedestrian/cyclist mortality rate. most of my friends who did urban biking used to carry lead fishing weights to throw at cars that deliberately sideswiped them.

which is of course incredibly stupid because florida also has an inordinate number of people with concealed weapons permits.

granted, they were all the earnest activist bike punk kids, and it wouldn't surprise me if they went out of their way to be a nuisance to motorists, but i certainly wouldn't want to be biking on any major roads in tampa, just the same.
posted by wreckingball at 6:20 PM on March 26, 2007


Jumping on the "biking is dangerous and difficult in Miami" bandwagon. There are, actually, some bike lanes. but you'd never know it, the way so many people drive their cars in them.

As for the bus, I am very fortunate in not needing to take it, but I hear it could be worlds better/more reliable.
posted by bilabial at 6:14 AM on March 27, 2007


You should also take a minute and look at the most recent course offerings schedule to see if you're likely to have to travel to other campuses. It's been about ten years since I worked there, but at that time there was a notable difference in the quantity and nature of the offerings from campus to campus. Unless you were at North or South (now Kendall) campus you would almost certainly end up having to travel to another at one point if your schedule was even remotely restrictive.

That may well be different now - I certainly hope so - but be careful.

Personally I think it would be a blast to live in the design district, I always liked that area. It's also convenient to get to Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, and Coral Gables.
posted by phearlez at 10:47 AM on March 27, 2007


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