After a whirlwind week of moving, dealing with surly bus drivers, broke down cabs, and a nasty cold, I was able to take some time yesterday and ride the bike around my new home island. I have been wanting to ride around Key West for a while to see how long and difficult the ride might be and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Key West is about 3 miles long and a mile or so wide. It is a jungle of small narrow streets that are heavily travelled by cars and bikes alike. Luckily, the city has made bicycle riding on the island a preferred method of travel. The majority of the streets in Key West have painted or paved separate bike lanes. Even on the streets without bike lanes it it still relatively safe to pedal as the speed limits are so low a bike can easily keep pace with the traffic. The only exception is US 1 and North & South Roosevelt Blvds. which are the main arteries to the island. That is where the paved separate paths are.
The path I took went from Stock Island to South Roosevelt first. This route takes you along the south beach area past the airport. As you ride along the Atlantic ocean is on your south side where you can see everything from kayaks to cruise liners on the water. It is also the windiest part of the ride. From there you can follow several back streets up to Higgs beach. The trail is still paved along here. I took a quick break at a picnic area to wait out a passing thunder shower. I no sooner sat down under the shelter when I was joined by a herd of chickens looking for a hand out. You could tell they were trained to beg.
From Higgs I went further west to the southernmost point. This is a big tourist attraction as everyone has to get their picture taken here. So there is a lot of traffic and congestion. From here I took a right and headed north on Whitehead. Whitehead parallels Duval but without all the touristy stuff. You do go by Hemmingways old home and the Green Parrot, a locals watering hole, but it is mostly small businesses and government buildings. No trail here but as is said earlier, speeds are low so you can ride with the traffic. Whitehead ends near Mallory Square which is tourist central and very congested especially when the cruise ships are in. I avoided it heading east on Caroline to the waterfront. I stopped for a quick break as there are public bathrooms here and then headed over to White St. and turned south. From White I meandered a bit through the back streets. Here is where all the old gingerbread houses are. Some rundown, others fixed up. There is very little traffic here and it makes for a nice ride. I buzzed around the cemetery and headed across Truman Ave., which is the end of US 1. From there I headed east on Fogerty and Eagle. These streets have typical homes set off the street. There is very little traffic and you would have no idea you were on an island if someone had blindfolded you and set you back there. From there I got back on North Roosevelt heading east. This trail takes you along the main shopping district. It eventually comes back onto Stock Island and US1.
I took my time, no hurry, and completed the route in about 2 hours on my rusty single speed. The whole terrain is flat and easy to navigate. I can see doing it on a regular basis.
When you come to Key West, rent a bike, there are plenty, and try the route. Very scenic and fun.