Currently viewing the tag: "Bikes"
Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald

Good news for bicycle advocates: the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway is getting closer to becoming a reality. The proposed 42-mile trail would be the first and only bike trail in the U.S. to connect two national parks (Biscayne National Park & Everglades National Park).

The landmark proposal is still “largely conceptual, with designs nearing completion”, according to park planner at Everglades National Park, Fred Herling. As it currently stands, however, the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway is to be composed of two routes. The first route would originate at Biscayne National Park and travel westbound through Homestead and then to the Ernest P. Coe Visitor Center just past the entrance of Everglades National Park. The second route would then originate at EPC Visitor Center, then travel back eastbound to Biscayne National Park via Florida City this time.

According to the Herald, the Greenway would be replete with trail amenities including benches, rest stops, scenic mile markers, vegetation markers, and even occasional outlets for kayaking and canoeing.

How much is this going to cost, and who’s going to pay you ask? Current estimates are approximately $30 million. Homestead has applied for federal funding, which officials feel confident they will receive. Miami-Dade County has agreed to pick up a portion of the tab so far, but only for a small eastern segment.

I must say, though, while it is very encouraging to see this level of support for such a large bicycle project, it still appears that cycling is considered a “recreational pursuit” and not so much a legitimate form of transportation within this county. We need to continue to pressure for a Bicycle Master Plan – one that includes a vast network of urban bike lanes and greenways as well as recreational trails. Hopefully the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway will be the first step in a new direction for bicycle transportation policy in Miami-Dade County.


As you may already know, I support bicycles. I am a huge advocate for improved bicycle infrastructure in Miami, including a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan.


Nonetheless, I often speak to people who have concerns about using bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation, even if Miami had hundreds of miles of separated bike lanes.

Some of the more popular concerns include fear of theft, lack of secure racks, and problems with the bike’s generous proportions, particularly when on a crowded train or attempting to store it inside of a building. Fortunately, I’ve found a solution to most of these concerns: folding bikes.

The folding bicycle certainly isn’t new technology, but it’s rare I see people using these bikes and even rarer to hear people talk about them.

A couple weeks ago, I was introduced to the amazing convenience of the folding bike. I was in Brooklyn at the time, and was planning on going down to Philly for the weekend to visit some old friends. Lucky for me one of my friends allowed me to borrow their new Dahon.

After learning how to fold and unfold the bike, I packed some clothes in a backpack, and raced off through Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and into Lower Manhattan. I decided to test its convenience on the subway – no problem. Even fumbling at bit, it only took about one minute to fold up the bike and it was light (only like 20-25 lbs.) enough to carry right over the turnstile. The C train was relatively crowded, but I was still able to get a seat comfortably while holding the folded bike.

At Penn Station, I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering a regular sized bike through masses of people, nor having to lug it up or down stairs/escalators. I boarded Amtrak, stowed the bike in the rack above my seat, and read a book during the hour and change trip.

Upon arriving at 30th Street Station in Philly, I didn’t even have to bother with cab fare – I just unfolded the bike and road off to meet my friends about 12 or 13 blocks away. Upon arriving at my friends’ place, I folded the bike back up, walked past the doorman without any looks or objections, took the elevator with ease, and stored it in their small apartment without feeling guilty about space.

I was hooked. I just ordered a Dahon myself, and can’t hardly wait another day for it to arrive. In the meantime, let me share with you just a short list of benefits for folded bikes:

  • Integrates flawlessly with all forms of transit. Instead of taking up a bunch of space on a Metrorail car, or loading and unloading a regular sized bike on the front of a bus, the folded bike is easy to carry on board
  • They usually fold up in just 15-30 seconds
  • Most of them fit conveniently into a duffel bag or suitcase – perfect for carry-on luggage on planes
  • They take up a fraction of space in your home (especially great for smaller living spaces)
  • No longer do you have to worry about them getting stolen from some random chain-up or even a rack. You probably won’t even need to buy any chains or locks in the first place
  • You could even bring it into the office. Put it in a carrying bag, it stores easily
  • Performance is as good as or better than regular sized bikes, depending on what model and/or brand you use
  • Allows you the freedom to go just about anywhere; its convenient integration with transit is particularly beneficial
To learn more about folded bikes and their benefits, check out this great link.

Photo courtesy of joelmann’s flickr account

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Today I was going to speak about Bicycle Boulevards - specifically how they can benefit Miami (or any city) and how they might be implemented. However, the guys from StreetFilms have already made a great video explaining the Bicycle Boulevard and its benefits.

As for Miami, I think Bicycle Boulevards are a very necessary component of the larger pedestrian/bicycle-oriented system that would make our city(ies) more livable.

Right off the top of my head, three good potential Bicycle Boulevards in Miami could be:

-SW 6th St between SW 4th Ave & SW 27th Ave
-Tigertail Ave between Sw17 Ave & Mary St
-N Federal Hwy/NE 4th Ct between NE 36th St and NE 79th St

SW 6th Street is the classic example of wasted street potential at the expense of maximizing automobile traffic flow. Despite on-street parking on both sides, this street is too wide for a one-way. Combined with traffic synchronization that allows the driver to speed through almost 20 blocks without a red light, traffic calming is definitely in order. However, SW 6th happens to run right through the heart of Little Havana, one of the densest neighborhoods in all of the SE United States and perhaps Miami’s most organic neighborhood. Due in large part to the density of this corridor, it has a fairly high number of pedestrians and cyclists in proportion to most other residential areas of the Greater Miami area. With the necessary traffic calming and addition of bicycle-oriented measures/infrastructure, I think this street has great potential for a Bicycle Boulevard.

Tigertail Avenue, officially holding “Scenic Transportation Corridor” status with the City of Miami, also has great potential as a Bicycle Boulevard. One thing is for sure: it is a lot more scenic by bike or by foot than it is by automobile. Unfortunately, Tigertail currently has no bike infrastructure of any kind, and several portions of the Avenue are even without sidewalks. Moreover, during rush hours Tigertail is turned into a bypass for thru-traffic avoiding US-1 or Bayshore Drive. It wouldn’t take much to make this into a Bicycle Boulevard, though. I don’t have official statistics, but from personal experience I would estimate that Coconut Grove has the greatest number of cyclists per capita in all of Greater Miami. I’m sure residents living along the Tigertail corridor would love to have fewer cars rumbling by their homes and making this historic street hostile to cyclists and pedestrians.

I think N. Federal Highway/NE 4th Ct has good potential as a Bicycle Boulevard for several reasons. First, it runs between NE 2nd Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard, and should not be reserved as another N/S arterial. Secondly, it would integrate very well with the Streetcar, allowing people to efficiently get from downtown to almost the City Line without ever driving. Hopefully, planners would incorporate bicycle infrastructure into proposed make-over projects for 79th Street - even having the vision to connect it over the causeway to North Beach. Also, the NE 4th Ct section is already in pretty good shape physically, having narrower streets, slower speed limits, and shade trees. However, the N. Federal Highway segment from NE 36th Street to NE 55th Street definitely needs a makeover. Designating it a Bicycle Boulevard affords the perfect opportunity for planners to remodel this currently insipid, hostile road into a high quality urban street that is the backbone for several emerging neighborhoods.

In closing, I must note that a very necessary component of these Bicycle Boulevards would be their integration with a larger system of Bicycle infrastructure. We don’t want to have these Boulevards originating and/or terminating in hostile places for cyclists. This is why it is critical for planners to develop a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan for the City and County that recognizes cycling as a legitimate transportation alternative, not just a recreational pursuit.

  • MIA is experiencing a sudden surge of International Flights. American Airline’s recent announcement of 14 additional round trip flights to Colombian destinations (Baraquilla, Medellin, and Bogota) and year round, non-stop flights to Montevideo, Uruguay, further solidified the carrier’s position in Miami and Latin American. Meanwhile, South African Airways is also considering adding daily non-stop flights between Miami and Johannesburg and Brazil’s TAM is adding daily non-stop flights to Rio de Janeiro. There are also preliminary talks of Virgin America coming into the market within the next five years. Hopefully the recent surge of interest in MIA will justify the half billion dollars commissioners recently approved to complete the North Terminal project. The North Terminal, as we’ve discussed in the past, is about 1 billion dollars over budget, 393 days behind schedule, and the cause of our humiliating “exercising” train in Japan. I’d like to know how the Parsons/Odebrecht Joint Venture Contractor can justify a Billion dollars of cost overruns and more than a year in delays…Note: Parsons/Odebrecht is currently the contractor managing the MIA South Terminal (Over budget, Behind Schedule), Miami Intermodal Center (Over budget, Behind Schedule), MIA North Terminal (Over budget, Behind Schedule), MIA People Mover (Behind Schedule), and Odebrecht was the contractor in charge of the construction of the Carnival Center (Over budget and behind schedule, to say the least.) Anyone else see a worrisome trend evolving here? There’s a common denominator with Odebrecht: the County. The Question then becomes who’s responsible? The joint venture also placed a bid for the contract to build the Port of Miami Tunnel, however, a Spanish firm was granted that contract (that is unless some crazy idea that the firm should not be granted the job because of it’s own legal ties to Cuba becomes part of someone’s political agenda…)
  • In Eco News, Orlando will become the first city in the United States to operate a fleet of Hydrogen powered buses built by Ford. The city will use the 8 hydrogen buses to ferry passengers around the airport and convention center. Meanwhile GE today unveiled the first ever Hybrid Road locomotive…
  • Speaking of Buses, an MDTA bus plowed through a little Havana Church before sunrise today…
  • Floating Condos? Man, I hope this doesn’t catch on…
  • Good news for the California HSR initiative: A senate subcommittee has approved a 45-point, 2 Million Dollar initial budget…
  • The Holland Tunnel is facing 30+ minute delays at 5:30 on a Friday evening, how did this guy get through in 5 minutes? Watch the video to see…
  • Three Cents off each Gallon of Gas? Oh, you shouldn’t have! No, Really…

Update: Courtesy of Mark, in the Comments Below:

  • American Airlines will start daily flights to Valencia, Venezuela pending Venezuelan government approval this fall.
  • American Airlines will start four weekly flights each to Recife and Salvador da Bahia, in Brazil, later this year pending Brazilian government approval.
  • American Airlines is set to announce in a few weeks the launch of the only non-stop service between South Florida and Austin, Texas this fall.
  • American Airlines just launched new non-stops to Fayetteville, Arkansas and in June adds additional service to Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cozumel, Freeport, Jacksonville, Key West, Nassau, and Rio de Janeiro.
  • VARIG will resume service to Miami this December, with daily non-stop service to Rio de Janeiro.
  • AeroSur will increase service between Miami and Bolivia in June from 3x to 4x a week.
  • El Al just increased service between Miami and Tel Aviv last month, from 2x to 3x a week.
  • Aerolineas Argentinas will begin 5x weekly non-stop service between Miami and Sao Paulo on 1 September 2007.
  • AirTran will launch the only non-stop service between Miami and Kansas City on 7 November 2007. On the same day, they will launch the only low-fare non-stop service between Miami and Baltimore.
  • Ecuador’s AEROGAL has applied with the US DOT to fly to Miami, and is awaiting US approval to begin scheduled service later this year.
  • Iberia just increased Miami-Madrid service from daily to 10x weekly.
  • Air Plus Comet is planning to start four weekly flights between Miami and Madrid in November.
  • German airline LTU more than doubled MIA service last week. They now serve Miami 5x a week, instead of 2x. They have three flights a week from Dusseldorf, Germany and two flights a week from Munich, Germany.

Simply Remarkable…

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It’s great to see that pro-bicycle momentum continues to grow in Miami. Last week, the Miami Beach city commission voted to approve bike lanes on 16th Street from Collins Avenue to Alton Road. This was part of an improvement plan for 16th Street, which included other traffic calming elements and pedestrian realm enhancements such as planting shade trees and widening sidewalks.

Amazingly, the bike lanes almost didn’t happen. One of Miami’s 387,962 NIMBY groups masquerading as a neighborhood improvement organization, the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association, had been a vocal opposition to the bike lanes on 16th. “I understand cyclists want bike paths, but why 16th Street”? Nice argument - I’m sure NIMBYs everywhere were proud.

According to the Sunpost, the real issue at hand is the right-of-way along 16th Street that would need to be taken back by the City in order to accommodate the bike lanes AND widen sidewalks. Similar to the Grove’s opposition over the quality 27th Avenue enhancement project, Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association members are concerned that the City will reacquire public right-of-way between buildings and the sidewalk that has been used for private means (e.g. landscaping). Commissioner Richard Steinberg took the stated position that “widening the sidewalks toward the buildings would not, in fact, encroach on private property, but in reality the private property was encroaching upon the city land”. It’s great to see an elected official embrace the public realm and what’s best for the city as a whole and not the private interests of a few NIMBYs.

photo courtesy of huwkan’s flickr account

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While Miami doesn’t even have car sharing yet, Paris is about to implement a massive bike sharing program. This is yet another indicator of how far behind Miami is in terms of being a truly sustainable, pedestrian-oriented city. Following a similar model used in Lyon, France, Paris will be implementing over 20,000 bikes for rent at 1,450 stations citywide.

Jean-Louis Touraine, Paris’ Deputy Mayor, says the program was meant “not just to modify equilibrium between modes of transportation and reduce air pollution, but also to modify the image of the city where humans occupy a larger space”. Wow - you won’t find any language like that in city codes and master plans around here. The closest echoing would be the objective of “balancing vehicular needs with pedestrian needs”, which invariably means a built environment where cars rule.

Why are we always preaching compact urban form and mixed-use? Because that kind of environment allows a program like this to flourish. Consequently, most trips for bike renters will be free because they only have to travel a short distance. In Lyon, France’s third largest city, 95% of approximately 20,000 daily bike rentals are free because of the short nature of most trips there. Moreover, Lyon’s 3,000 rental bikes have logged about 10 million miles since May 2005, helping to eliminate roughly 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Also, vehicle travel has decreased by four percent. Officials are estimating that each rental bike in Paris will be used 12 times per day, which equates to 250,000 trips per day and 91 million per year. Just imagine what could be accomplished with a program like this in Miami (or most American cities, for that matter) when you consider that most car trips in this country are within one mile from origin.

Rental fees will be free for the first half hour and then will double every half hour thereafter to facilitate faster turnover, making a 2 hour 30 minute rental $9.10. Membership would be $38 per year. To release the bikes, riders would use a prepaid card or a credit card at a computerized console. To discourage theft, each rider must leave a credit card or refundable deposit of about $195 along with personal information. Also, each bicycle rack will have a computer that can tell where the bikes are as well as their condition.
JCDecaux, outdoor advertising giant, will fund and operate the program for 10 years, including start up costs of approximately $115 million. All revenue from the program will go to Paris’ coffers, including an additional $4.3 million per year. In return Paris is giving JCDecaux exclusive rights to all city-owned billboards, including revenues.

I think Miami is a long way off for a citywide program like this to be feasible. However, there are sections of the city and county (Downtown, Brickell, Coconut Grove, South Beach, North Beach, Little Havana, Downtown Coral Gables, Midtown area) where small bike stations could be located. As the program increased in popularity, it would increase pressure on planners and politicians to allocate more space to bicyclists in the form of bike lanes and greenways. Gradually, more stations could be added based on demand. This is the kind of program that could help bridge the gap between driving and walking, decrease automobile trips, decrease pollution, and even make people healthier.

Photos courtesy of Flickr accounts: DennisWorld & mknely

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