Yesterday’s Miami-Dade County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting was filled with interesting news. As Spokes n’ Folks reported, much attention was given to a couple of urban infill projects in Coral Gables, located adjacent to the M-Path.
Dadeland Station developer Jeff Berkowitz is moving forward with plans to redevelop the Deel Ford parcel, the larger of the two parcels outlined in orange below.
Due to high traffic volumes on S. Dixie Highway, Berkowitz’s current plans seek to bisect the M-Path on the north side of the site with an easement allowing motor vehicle access to the development’s parking garage. BPAC members have previously asked the developer to include several safety measures in the site design to mitigate the effects of of motor vehicle traffic. Yet, the “sketchy” drawings presented yesterday did not detail the required safety measures, which caused BPAC to table the approval.
Additionally, a proposed 30,000 square foot office development is slated for an old Shell station located at nearby, at the corner of S. Dixie Highway and LeJeune Road (small parcel, above). The developer of that property has also asked for an easement that would bisect the M-Path.
While the BPAC is right to ask for safety measures, they are setting a very dangerous precedent. After all, the M-Path is already compromised by numerous heavily trafficked streets without any commensurate design or safety measures to help pedestrians and bicyclists through the intersections. Allowing two more easements will further interrupt the Path’s function, and could plant the seed for future development to follow suit.
Ultimately, Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) will have to approve the easements, with the mitigations suggested by the BPAC. If you ride or walk/run the M-Path consistently, you know this directly threatens you. Please call and write MDT, Coral Gables City Commissioners, and Miami-Dade County Commissioners to let them know that safety upgrades or not, these developments do not need easements into the M-Path, but rather a little more creative site design.
In related BPAC news, an FDOT representative announced plans for bicycle lanes along the MacArthur Causeway. Yes, you read that correctly.
My initial reaction to this proclamation was that the encouragement of bicycling on what is effectively a high-speed highway, where bicycles are normally not allowed for good reason, is sheer lunacy — unless commensurate redesign of the roadway would significantly reduce lane width and motor vehicle speed. Well, it seems the lanes will be shrunk to 11′ from 14′, which will indeed slow motorists down and provide ample room for bicycle lanes.
Full plans have not been reaveled, however. As always, the devil will lie in the details. How will the proposed lanes work with the Biscayne Boulevard on-ramps and off-ramps? Will these lanes be physically protected with bollards or curbs? How far will FDOT go in calming one of the most heavily trafficked roads in South Florida?
We’ll be tracking this one.
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