- Velib-style bike-sharing program with 6,000 bikes for rent at stations approximately 300 meters apart
- New cycle paths
- Exclusive cycle zones
- Much greater bike parking capacity
Streetsblog has an excellent breakdown of the London cycling program.
I wonder how much longer Miami will view these ambitious bike plans as “unproven” or “a waste of time and money”?
(Is it me, or does this make you sick thinking about what Biscayne Blvd could [should] look like?)
(Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you - half the road capacity is allocated for cycling)
A recent article by Isaiah Thompson of the Miami New Times serves as yet another source showcasing cycling and why it should be a major mode of transportation in Miami-Dade. Below I’ve pasted some key points from the article, but if you have the time the entire piece is worth the read.
At first glance, there is nary a place on God’s green Earth better suited to biking than Miami. It’s utterly flat, with weather that lets a cyclist pedal year-round without donning so much as a scarf in January. Its streets are wide and, for the most part, arranged in a tidy, easily navigable grid.
Meanwhile, as Miami totters in place, more cities are looking to bicycles as an answer to everything from traffic congestion and air quality to fitness and green transportation. Paris recently unveiled the most ambitious bike-sharing plan in history, making more than 10,000 bikes available to borrow citywide for anyone with a credit card. American towns like Portland, Denver, San Francisco, and, closer to home, Gainesville, have transformed themselves in a few short years into some of the most bike-friendly places on the planet. New York, already boasting some 200 miles of bike lanes, plans to double that number in the next two years; Chicago proposes that by 2015, every one of its three million residents will live within half a mile of a bike lane.
Despite Miami Mayor Manny Diaz’s grandiose calls for the greening of Miami, the city possesses not a single finished bike lane; the only one under construction, on South Miami Avenue, is less than a mile long. And the county’s plan, adopted in 2001, states no specific targets whatsoever.
“We’re so far behind and in the dark with bikes it’s absurd,” says Chris Marshall, who owns the Broken Spoke bicycle shop at 10451 NW Seventh Ave. Marshall spent years campaigning for bike lanes and “greenways” to connect the beaches to the mainland, before finally throwing in the towel. “I’d say we’re stuck in the Sixties, but it’s worse than the Sixties,” Marshall says bitterly. “In the Sixties you could still get around by bike.”
A county map produced in 2001 grades every major Miami-Dade roadway based on traffic speeds and shoulder widths. Streets that receive an A for bikeability are drawn in black; those that get a D or worse are in red. The map is blanketed in red. From the largest six-lane monstrosities running like swollen rivers through the county, to the crowded, narrow streets of downtown, virtually every roadway is deemed unsuitable for biking. Of the 1.3 percent labeled A streets, the closest one to downtown is more than six miles west, a small forgotten residential byway that dead-ends at the Palmetto Expressway.
In Miami-Dade’s 2001 Bicycle Facilities Plan, 12 projects are deemed “Priority I” — read: “remotely possible.” In the seven years since the plan was drafted, only two of those 12 have been implemented: the first half of the Venetian Causeway and the second half of the Venetian Causeway.
“It’s a question of commitment,” concedes BPAC Chairman Theodore Silver, who presides over meetings with the dry, mechanical patience of a man crossing a vast desert. “And it’s difficult to get governments to commit to a minority that’s not very popular.” BPAC’s monthly minutes read like the drafting of surrender papers. During a presentation on an upcoming resurfacing of Flagler Street, the group asked a Florida Department of Transportation engineer if a three-foot-wide bike lane might be installed along the massive three-lane one-way road. The answer, which lasted more than an hour, was: probably not.
Ricardo Ochoa, who owns the Cuba Bike Shop at 2930 NW Seventh Ave., arrived two decades ago from Colombia. He worked for most of that time as an accountant before taking over the shop five years ago. Working with bikes, he says, showed him a different America.
Ochoa’s theory is that cars have isolated Americans from each other, especially in Miami. “Here people drive all the time, and it makes them lonely,” he says. “It’s like a cloud of loneliness hanging over the city.
An increasing number of cities, large and small, welcome bicycling as an energy efficient, healthy and economically sustainable means of alternative transportation. Chicago, for example, is currently implementing its Bike 2015 Plan, which makes bicycling an integral part of the city’s daily life through infrastructure projects, programs and policies. Likewise, a bicycle master plan underway in Portland is upholding and expanding its reputation as the most bicycle-friendly city in America.
Looking internationally, in just a few years Bogotá has implemented a highly integrated citywide bicycle system, and every Sunday it hosts Ciclovia, an event that closes 70 miles of the city’s streets to traffic, allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to celebrate a car-free public realm. Perhaps more dramatically, Paris executed a citywide bicycle sharing system that transformed it into one of Europe’s most bicycle-friendly cities. Indeed, with well over one million rides logged on 20,000 low cost bicycles available at high-tech stations, the City of Light has repositioned itself to also become the city of bikes.
In contrast, Miami is choosing not to compete. To date, locating a sidewalk bike rack is more difficult than securing a Saturday night parking spot near Lincoln Road. On-street bike lanes simply do not exist. Nor do street signs directing motorists to share the road with their two-wheel “subordinates.”
Cyclists do not have a bicycle sharing program to look forward to, or even a simple bike map showing them the friendliest streets on which to travel. What’s worse, there seems to be surprisingly little commitment by the city to improve the situation on any level. This runs counter to America’s most vibrant cities like Chicago, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and even our own Miami Beach, where an official citywide bicycle master plan is currently adding signage, bicycle racks and bicycle lanes with great success.
Yet the city of Miami could become a great bicycling city. We have fantastic weather, bicycle friendly flat terrain and a population that seems to enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities that South Florida provides. It’s not as if Miami does not have a fair share of cyclists. I see them on my daily commute from the beach, through downtown and into Little Havana. I also bicycle with them in the monthly critical mass ride over the Rickenbacker Causeway to Virginia Key and Key Biscayne.
We just need to better accommodate them, and we can. The city’s ubiquitous grid features many wide street right-of-ways that, where appropriate, easily could include bicycle-related infrastructure. Such a system should connect some of the city’s up-and-coming urban destinations, too far to reach by foot, but too frustrating to reach by car — the Biscayne Corridor, Design District, Wynwood, Downtown, Brickell, Little Havana, Little Haiti and Coconut Grove, as well as the city’s outlying neighborhoods.
If Miami is to unlock its great bicycling potential, it must consider hiring a bicycle planner (yes, they do exist) to create an ambitious bicycle master plan, and one that supplements the provisions of the Miami 21 plan. The bicycle plan must be city-wide and address everything from safety and education to actual policy and infrastructure implementation. Moreover, the plan should set realistic benchmarks that are able to be realized in both the short and long term.
So what gives, Miami? Why don’t we have an official bicycle planner on staff aiding the supposed urban renaissance proclaimed by DWNTWN billboards? Why not be bold and make Miami a year-round cycling destination? The benefit received from creating a bicycle plan would do much to change the perception of the city, internally and externally. It would also improve the city’s livability. Why should we settle as a perpetually pedestrian and bike unfriendly city? We know that sinking more money into auto-oriented infrastructure only makes congestion and pollution worse. We know our current modes of automobile transport are inadequate, frustrating and contribute to global warming, an issue that all South Floridians must take seriously.
It’s time for the city to move in a new direction — one relying upon more pedestrian and bike-friendly urban forms as a means to achieving a vibrant, sustainable city for the 21st century. However, without recognition from city officials, Miami’s great potential has little chance of becoming a reality. A bike planner might just be the best place to start.
Note: All links were provided by the author of this post and did not appear in the original Miami Herald print.
- Planetizen: DPZ planner Mike Lydon has devised the Top Ten Reasons You Know You Are an Urbanist
- Streetsblog: How Bogota has transformed itself from a traffic choked city to a thriving cycling and transit city
- Miami SunPost: Hundreds of thousands of Miami-Dade trailer park residents could be forced from their homes
Note: Fast Forward to the 45 second mark for the beginning of the race.
The issue at hand will be the proposed extension of the “Black Creek Trail” 8.8 miles to reach the Krome Trail at the L-31 N levee. Not surprisingly, there’s a vocal and organized opposition to the extension, so it’s important that cycling proponents or anyone who cares about sustainability shows up to this meeting.
The meeting will be held at:
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