Until recently Miami had never really given bicycling much consideration. During the past year or so the bicycling movement has gained momentum here. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved by the Miami commissioners, bicycle lanes are slowly popping up and we see more and more cyclists on the road everyday. This is certainly a good thing; however I’m a little concerned about the quality of some of our bicycle lanes on roads were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph.
For example, here in Miami we have had several bicycle lanes placed on roadways were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph and we can even find unprotected bicycles lanes placed adjacent to roadways were the design speed is closer to 50-65 mph. The probability of death or serious injury to a vulnerable cyclist increases substantially as motor vehicle speeds increase. Therefore before painting unprotected bicycle lanes, we need to make sure that the speed of traffic does not exceed 35-40 mph.
So this got me thinking, perhaps the best way to bring cycling into the mainstream in cities that are not accustomed to cycling would be to create a bicycle network which designates specific roads as high priority routes for cyclists. Cities would focus spending and market these high priority routes; they could be called Urban Bicycle Networks. Marketing is key and fundamental to the Urban Bicycles Network’s success; it would be seen as sexy and cool and would be a matter of pride for a city.
The high priority routes would serve as the backbone to a city’s Urban Bicycle Network. Once a city designates the high priority routes, speeding fines within it would double much like in a road construction work zone. Of course, there would need to be clear markers so that motorists and bicyclists are aware of the special conditions that prevail within the road they are traveling on. The Urban Bicycle Network would not be expensive to implement and 50% of the total fines from moving violations within it would be reallocated back in to the network to make improvements and for maintenance.
I’m not sure if what I am suggesting is legal, but I’m trying to think out of the box here. The doubling of speeding fines within the Urban Bicycle Network would quickly educate motorists about the cyclist’s right to be on the road, reduce the speed of traffic and cyclists would be encouraged to use those roads which are safest for them.
It seems like it was just yesterday that Bicycling Magazine voted Miami as the worst city for cycling. Mayor Diaz seemed to take this insult personally, and over the course of the past year and a half, his staff has taken great strides to shed this dishonorable accolade.
Although our bicycling infrastructure has yet to see much improvement, awareness through events such as Bike Miami Days has certainly put cycling in the limelight and has shown that the cycling constituency is a force to be reckoned with. With a little luck, City of Miami commissioners will vote on Thursday to approve the Miami Bicycle Master Plan, and in doing so, they will effectively set the stage to improve the bicycle infrastructure of our beloved city.
Mike Lydon, from The Street Plan Collaborative, spent countless hours in the saddle, riding throughout the streets of Miami, developing the bicycle master plan. This comprehensive plan will guide the development of our cycling infrastructure for the next twenty years.
The plan looks to expand the current bikeway network of 16 miles to 280 miles by 2030. It also emphasizes the fundamental need for bicycle parking and education as key components to a successful bicycle strategy. Included in the plan are 950 suggested locations for bicycle parking, comprised of 3000 new bicycles racks. There are even suggested locations for commuter showers.
Please send your commissioner an email (My Commissioner tab above) to let them know how important the Miami Bicycle Master Plan is for our city. The commission meeting will be held on:
Thursday, October 8th at 9:00am
Miami City Hall-Commission Chambers
3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL
Please come out to show your support!
As some of you might know, Mike and I serve advisory roles in Miami’s newly created Bicycle Action Committee (BAC). The BAC is working on drafting a city of Miami Bicycle Master plan and is looking for any input our citizens wish to provide. You can download this city map, draw on it, and send back your ideas to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for committee review. You can also leave us comments or email us lists of potential bicycle routes, needed improvements, or any other suggestions. Here is your chance to shape a masterplan which will guide all bicycle related planning for years to come. I’m currently working on my version, which I will publish when complete and will finally get around to creating the Bicycle Rental plan I suggested to Alesh a while ago…
Every Sunday and holiday, every week, the City of Bogotá, Colombia closes down over 70 miles of roadways to cars and let people bike, walk, talk, exercise, picnic, sunbathe, I could go on and on. Just watch the video, it’s amazing. This video comes to you via Streetfilms from the Open Planning Project in NYC.
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.
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