I received the following email from Miami Beach transportation activist Gabrielle Redfern, on an upcoming speaking engagement against a new proposed scheme by the City of Miami Beach. If you can attend, you will find the information below.
Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club
Meeting Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Meeting Time: 8:30 AM
Meeting Place: David’s Café II, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach
Miami Beach civic activist Gabrielle Redfern, speaks out against the city’s proposed fifty million dollars in Parking Bonds (debt), as this week’s guest speaker at the September 21st meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club .
Gabrielle has been investigating the finances of the city Parking Department, which brings in some thirty million dollars a year, and has formed some strong opinions as to the benefits (or harm) to taxpayers of taking on so much new debt, especially with our difficult financial situation. Her objective is to further the development of an integrated and managed high-tech transportation and parking system, which she believes the terms of the new bonds might hinder.
Gabrielle is county commissioner Sally Heyman’s appointee to the Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee and a member of the Mayor’s Miami Beach Blue Ribbon Committee on Bikeways. She also served as vice-chair of the MPO’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and is a member of the city’s Design Review Board.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club
For more information contact David Kelsey . To be placed on the Breakfast Club ’s mailing list, contact Harry Cherry. Both can be reached at TuesdayMorningBreakfastClub@Yahoo.com
Visit our new web site at: http://www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club ).
The proposed roadway design for Euclid Avenue from 5th Street to 16th Street will be discussed at the following two upcoming meetings. It is extremely important that as many members of the bicycling community attend these meetings in support of the proposed bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.
CIP Oversight Committee meeting, July 12, 2010, 5:30pm. City Hall, 3rd Floor - Commission Chambers.
Historic Preservation Board meeting, August 10, 2010. 9:00am. City Hall, 3rd Floor - Commission Chambers. If a time certain are provided, I will let you know.
Not only are the bike lanes in jeopardy on this important North-South corridor in South Beach, but the entire project to improve the drainage and enhance the sidewalk and landscaping on Euclid before the end of the year will be yanked if a strong show of force for the proposed streetscape, that includes two bike lanes, is not approved.
The storm water management upgrades, the underground work needed for this street, is proposed to be funded through stimulus money. This means the work must be completed in the ground by December 31, 2010 for the work to be eligible for federal reimbursement. If the neighborhood continues to fight for the removal of the bike lanes, the City has stated that if controversy still exists after these two hearings, or if HPB does not approve the streetscape with the bike lanes, there will not be enough time to complete the project before the deadline. The City has no other way to fund this project now, and will not take this on. Millions of dollars of improvements are at stake!
Other than the NIMBY cry of “We just do not want the bike lane in our neighborhood” there is no reason to stop this important project.
BUT YOUR VOICE MUST BE HEARD!
As the agendas and staff reports become available for these meetings, I will send them on to you. In the meantime, please send an email to the Chair of the CIPOC, Commissioner Saul Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org and urge him to keep his personal promises and implement the Atlantic Greenway Master Plan, which includes bike lanes on Euclid Avenue. Please also send emails to email@example.com and MichaelBelush@miamibeachfl.go for the meeting of the HPB, with your views in support of the bike lanes for that body.
Thank you for your support.
Transit Miami received this email regarding Euclid Avenue from Gabrielle Redfern, on behalf of BASIC (Bicycle Activists for a Safe, Integrated City)
Another day, another bicycle facility on the chopping block in the City of Miami Beach. Current plans call for dedicated bike lanes on this road when it gets reconstructed in the nearer future. Even with out the new curb and gutter that the avenue is programmed to get, this 70 foot behemoth of a local road could benefit today from a little TLC, in the form of a small coat of paint, say running down each side of the lanes of traffic to narrow the car roadway to slow traffic and make more room for bikes. But no. The neighbors will have none of it!
Long story short: what say you? If you cannot make it tomorrow, no worries. This is just the first skirmish in what looks like a long war, and this battle will pay out in other conference rooms, and perhaps the Commission Chambers before all is said and done. BASIC objects to all this plan revision in the City of Miami Beach that involves removal of bicycle facilities.”
The extra large lanes, with no bike lanes, currently encourage a speedway effect from the foot of the Macarthur to Lincoln Road. Few lights, very residential, no trees, it is the perfect street to use in your car when traveling north south, avoiding Alton or even the scenic park-side Meridian. (If you never knew, and I blew it for the neighbors, I am sorry.) Something needs to be done, that is certain. I spent much time riding it yesterday, and this road is ugly, unsafe and hot! And thank God plans are in the works to make it so much better. But reconstruct a roadway, with 70 feet of ROW and not add dedicated bike lanes? Bike lanes currently called for in the City’s own Master Plan? That is what the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association plans to argue for in their streetscape sections before the committee on Wednesday. No bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.
To be fair, the neighborhood is proposing extra wide sidewalks they think will be good for sharing between pedestrians and bicycles. However, we disagree on this, the nature and manner of providing for bicycles. They see bicycles as recreation only. BASIC demands bicycles be given equal attention to cars in the transportation grid. We need a complete street that accommodates pedestrians, bicycles and cars. In that order. On that, the neighbors and I agree. How we get there, well, that is another battle brewing….
So how do we meet them halfway? (I pray daily to avoid war with folks I respect and admire). In the hope we can come to common ground, BASIC proposes a street section that includes two foot swales in front of all properties; providing for 12-foot sidewalks, clear of signs and other obstructions; a five foot street-side swale for landscaping and signage; two, one way, 15 foot travel lanes, with sharrows, separated by a two foot landscaped median. Currently all properties program right up to the sidewalk. Providing those landowners with two feet of green space running the length of their property will increase their property value. It would make for a beautiful street, in our opinion.”
MIAMI BEACH MAYORS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE ON BIKEWAYS IN MIAMI BEACH
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2010 2:00 p.m. (although this item may be a time certain 3:00 p.m)
MAYOR’S CONFERENCE ROOM
FOURTH FLOOR MIAMI BEACH CITY HALL
666 17TH STREET
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA 33139
Here’s a quick recap of the salient points from these meetings.
- Miami Beach has a few roadway projects that are of interest to the Bikeways Committee, including Collins Park, 44 St, Bayshore area in Middle Beach, Dade Blvd and 51 St. These are all in various stages of development and for the most part behind behind schedule, if even started, with the exception of Collins Park (near 22 St and Dade Blvd) which has all the permits done. These items take up a sizable chunk of time at every meeting, rarely have any real updates to report, and I’ve yet to truly understand the relevancy of some of them to the overall health of bicycling in Miami Beach.
- On the bike racks front, the city has hired a consultant to take care of all having to do with this, from identifying target locations to getting all the permits needed.
- There is also a kerfuffle over some people (a commissioner included) wanting to reduce the width of Alton Rd down to 8 feet to appease some key residents, but this is beyond the scope of the Bikeways Committee at the moment.
- I also inquired about the connection of the Oceanwalk promenade from 5th Street south to South Pointe Park, and I was told it was on track for construction later this year. This would create a continuous path from the Baywalk all around the SoFi area to South Pointe Park and then north to 23 St (I won’t count the Boardwalk because it discriminates against bicycles, skateboards and rollerskaters - bah).
- No significant update on the roadway projects.
- The Bayshore HOA wants to strip out all bike lanes in the neighborhood, as reduce the width of all roads, in order to “slow down traffic” as well as for “beautification.” This goes directly against the Bike Master Plan and is being opposed by various people in the city gov as well as by the Bikeways Committee. Next month there will be a Neighborhood Association meeting where this will come to a head. More info as I get it.
- The consultants for the bike racks are in the process of being hired but it seems like this may actually be a good thing for the city. These consultants will be able to deal with all the aspects of putting the bike racks out there exclusively and if all goes to plan, in 4-6 months we should see around 100 new bike racks going up around the city, mostly in the South Beach area. Here’s hoping.
- The bike share program for Miami Beach, handled by DecoBike, is on schedule for an August launch (site says July, but its August). Colby Reese (Owner? Pres?) of DecoBike updated the committee on all the city official wrangling that’s had to be done but which is finally on its final stages. The website is now open so drop by. I’ll write more about DecoBike later on.
- It has become painfully clear that the Miami Beach Bicycle Master Plan needs to be revised. It is deficient in many ways, fails to address State-owned roads, and simply does not address the true needs of the city in terms of bicycle infrastructure vis-a-vis our specific geographic situation. It also fails to take advantage of all the recent developments in alternative transportation. When compared to the Miami Bicycle Master Plan, released just last year, the MB plan just doesn’t seem like it is addressing cities separated only by a causeway. This isn’t an easy task, so expect more info about this in months to come.
- Lastly, it is possible we may get some indoor bicycle parking space at the Lincoln Rd Cinema multi-level parking. I brought this up on the April meeting, how there was a space that was totally unused and could serve perfectly as an indoor bike parking area, and Gabrielle Redfern ran with it. She remembered some information that led to the possibility of this happening. Cross your fingers! I’ll also write specifically about this once I get some info I requested.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 2:00 PM. Be there!
Below you will find the minutes for the January and March meetings of the Miami Beach Bikeways Committee. The next meeting is today, April 28, and I will post a report and upload the minutes a few days later.
- January Meeting (PDF) - Topics covered include: bikes on Lincoln Rd, update of various road projects, bike racks around the Beach, electric bike rentals, the (mythical?) bike-share project by DecoBike, and the accident at the Rickenbacker.
- March Meeting (PDF) - Topics covered include: update on some road projects, FDOT and the 71st St repaving project in regards to bike lanes, bike lanes on McArthur Causeway.
Remember that even if you cannot attend the meetings, any resident of Miami Beach has the right to email any of the committee representatives and voice their opinion, especially if based on the progress seen in these minutes.
We’ll see what the April meeting holds.
The Miami Herald is reporting that the former home of The Jackie Gleason Show could be torn down to make room for a new hotel and the expansion of the Miami Beach convention center.
This project sounds like a really bad idea. The last thing Miami Beach needs right now is another hotel. The Fillmore is a beautiful historic building and provides a much needed small/medium sized venue for music. Live Nation, which currently operates the Fillmore, invested millions of dollars three years ago to renovate the building. Miami Beach needs a collection of buildings that represents its history; this collection creates an architecturally diversified urban environment which contributes to good urbanism. The Fillmore is a building we should keep, its part of our history and should not be demolished.
Please send City Manager Jorge Gonzalez an email to let him know that you do not support the demolition of this building.
I’m a big fan of red light cameras, but I’m not a fan of putting them in the middle of the sidewalk. Not much consideration was given to people with disabilities or parents with strollers when they stuck this pole on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive. We shouldn’t place a large red light camera pole in the middle of a sidewalk. The Transit Miami Eye is looking at the details.
You can read more about the red light cameras on Miami Beach here.
The following arrived via email in my Inbox this morning, from Gabrielle Redfern.
At today’s CIPOC meeting, (5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chambers, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach), the BAYSHORE neighborhood will argue for a change in their neighborhood BODR that will narrow streets and remove bike lanes in plan, (Meridian Avenue among others), and already on the ground (Prairie Avenue).
This could be a turning point in the administration’s attempt to build a bicycle-friendly City, and coming in the middle of Bicycle Month, the newest NIMBY assault to implementing a Master Plan makes my heart very heavy, as these fine folks in Bayshore are my neighbors and friends.
According to traffic experts and planners, a well-used bike lane is the best, natural traffic-calming device. My esteemed neighbors would rather force bikers and cars to share a 10-foot travel lane in hopes of slowing the cut through traffic in their ‘hood, rather than re-stripe wide streets and add dedicated bicycle facilities. Although we know their thinking this move will make the streets safer is wrong, their desires will be considered seriously by appointed and elected officials alike, placing the misguided views of a few residents ahead of the infrastructure needs of an entire community.
Until our City builds the required network of marked bicycle lanes that folks and families feel comfortable riding in, gridlock will continue to be our way of life here and less people will take advantage of the natural tropical mobility we are blessed with. Until we free the sidewalks of bikes, pedestrians will continue to walk in the streets, even in the dark of night. Until we say no to the continuing shifting of bike lanes to the next block and build them when we can, we will never live up to our potential of an urban and green tropical paradise.
I hate to argue with people I love, but it looks like a good fight is necessary to serve the greater good of advocating strongly to continue on the path to build an interconnected bicycle lane network in our City. I hope you will join me.
It came with the following PDF attached: a copy of the Capital Improvement Project Oversight Committee Agenda.
Miami Beach is behind the curve as it is in regards to bicycle facilities; letting small groups dictate general city improvement decisions based on their short-range comfort should not only be avoided, but actively discouraged. We should be working for the betterment of the entire community.
If you are able to attend, please try to do so. If you can’t and are a resident of Miami Beach (especially if you are a resident of Bayshore and oppose this move), consider sending an email to the Mayor and all City Commissioners letting them know of your opposition to the proposed plan.
The esteemed people of Planetizen.com are just some of the people talking about car parking challenges this week -
Ian Sacs, Hoboken’s own Department of Transportation and Parking Director, writes an engaging and informative piece on how the exceptionally dense but car-enamored city is anticipating its urban parking problems and introducing Flexcar, bicycle infrastructure, and connectivity improvements to reduce the immense waste that car parking lots can be. You can read the whole article here.
Parking is an incredibly challenging issue for any architect, planner or transportation engineer. Parking spaces can cost upwards of $50,000 and other than hold a car for a bit, consume an incredible amount of wasted space. Interestingly, it is precisely these costs that are driving developers and politicians towards active transportation (rather than health or fun).
Portland State University (like Miami-Dade College, one of its downtown’s largest land holders) has been struggling with this issue. In a recent article in the Portland Daily Vanguard, writer Vinh Tran points out that PSU’s newest bicycle parking facility will provide parking for 75 students at the same cost of just adding 4 car spaces.
Here in Miami, some residents of Miami Beach are getting vocal about the increasing costs of parking. An article in The Miami Herald has spurred comments from residents who can’t believe they will have to pay $15 to park ON Lincoln Road. (That’s it!?) This writer wonders why anyone would choose to live in the densest, most pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in our county and then want to drive anywhere-
Parking is a global problem. In countries as (seemingly) different as Italy and Japan, vertical parking is popular:
…so transportation engineers who can think out of the box and design successful parking alternatives are in demand. Naturally, so are those of us who advocate for even less consumption of space - by traveling by bicycle, on foot or mass transit.
UPDATE: This afternoon, we received a link to a great image that shows Chicago’s proactive work on increasing bicycle parking in the last year alone. Our hats off to the people at Active Transportation Alliance, who largely deserve the credit for these successes. Wouldn’t it be great if the BPAC or City of Miami Bicycle Action Committee delivered work like this?
What are your ideas for addressing an ever increasing need for car parking in an ever shrinking urban environment?
Tomorrow, Wednesday January 27 @ 2:00 PM the Miami Beach Bikeways Committee has its first monthly meeting of 2010, in the Mayor’s Conference Room, on the Fourth Floor at Miami Beach City Hall. Please be on time.
The general public is welcomed to attend, and Miami Beach residents interested in the topic of bicycles should definitely attend if possible. The City of Miami Beach needs to have pressure applied by those that are out there biking every day and know first hand the reality of the poor bicycle infrastructure in the city.
I’ll try to have the minutes from the meeting posted here as well once I get them via email after the meeting.
Inspired by Daniel’s post, An informal Bike Count, I decided to conduct my very on spontaneous bike count while riding north on West Avenue a couple of weeks ago. My unscientific experiment was carried out around 7:00pm from 9th Street all the way up to Dade Blvd. The route is less than 1 mile and took me no more than 5 minutes to ride it. I counted 46 bicycles, of which most were locked up to anything but a bicycle rack. In all fairness there were about 7 bicycles that were locked up to the new bicycle racks at The Shops of West Avenue between 9th Street and 10th Street and another 4 bicycles locked up to a large “wave” bicycle rack in front of the Mirador. I must have seen about 4 other cyclists riding on West Avenue, and that left about 31 bicycles or so parked to trees, sign posts and garbage cans.
That’s quite a lot of bicycle activity. The city of Miami Beach must begin to proactively meet the needs bicyclists. South Beach is especially under-served in terms of bicycle infrastructure. I don’t believe that the city of Miami Beach seriously considers bicycles as actual transportation. Although they do have a Miami Beach bicycle master plan (Atlantic Greenway Master Planner), they do not have a bicycle coordinator to ensure its implementation. At one point the city of Miami Beach did have a bicycle coordinator, but they decided to do away with the position. This is a clear sign that they do not value the bicycle coordinator position or the implementation of the master plan.
I took the time to review the Atlantic Greenway Master Plan which was commissioned in 2007. Upon review, I discovered that nearly 100% of the bicycle facilities that were slated to be completed by 2009 on South Beach have not even been started. This is a dismal performance by the city of Miami Beach.
Although there has been talk about a bicycle share program, there has been no other sincere effort by the administration to promote cycling aside from purchasing new bicycle racks. The Miami Beach Bike Ways Committee seems to be ineffective as per Daniel’s Miami Beach Bike Ways Committee Update. I have attended this meeting on several occasions and I have to agree with Daniel’s assessment.
This is really a shame. Miami Beach, particularly South Beach, has the potential to become a truly great bicycling city. The demographics clearly support cycling. South Beach has an extremely high population density, distances are short, and parking is expensive and difficult to find. In addition, the topography is flat and the weather is beautiful. These are the reasons that bicycling is already flourishing on South Beach. Can you imagine how great cycling would be on South Beach if there was actual infrastructure to support safer cycling?
The city of Miami Beach should aggressively seek to promote cycling by building bicycle facilities that encourage more cycling. Bicycles must play a central role in Miami Beach’s transportation policy. The administration should be held accountable for not implementing the Atlantic Greenway Master Plan as was promised to its residents.
The “bog box” mall at 5th St and Alton Rd in South Beach surprises us yet again. After installing 14 new bike racks along the Publix front on 6th St, I just spotted 20 new bike racks along the Lenox Ave side of the mall.
I had already seen four when I first reported on the new ones along the Publix side, but wow, what a pleasant surprise to see an extra 16! This really gives me hope that they will also address the 5th St end of the mall once stores open there. Many thanks to the developers, AR&J SOBE, LLC.
And if we can be a bit bold, maybe you’ll also consider some of the ideas tossed out in this other post? I took this pic while it was raining, and boy, it would’ve been nice to have a dry place to park the bike. Just saying.
The Miami Beach Bicycle Center organizes a monthly bicycle ride (2nd Saturday) with a Miami Beach Police escort. This is a great free event for the entire family.
601 5th street (Corner of 5th and Washington)
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Experience Level: Novice/Intermediate
Bring water and sunscreen.
New Bike Racks at the 5th & Alton Mall
I needed some things for dinner and quickly rode my bike to Publix at the Mall on 5th & Alton. It’s sort of a given that there would be no bike parking and I’d have to lock my bike to the garbage can, and indeed its what I had to do, but for a very different reason: there were new bike racks all full of bikes!
There are 13 new bike racks along the Publix side of the mall on 6th St, in addition to the two original ones.
Kudos go to the developer for actually delivering on what they promised the City of Miami Beach and for providing a service for their customers.
I did a quick circuit of the mall to see if there were more new bike racks. I saw four racks near the corner of Lenox and 5th, by the Vitamin Shoppe (I can’t remember if they are new or not, but I can’t really recall having seem them there before) and that was it. Since there are no stores on the 5th St-facing side of the mall yet there’s no big issue though once Petco finally opens, things may be different (the image below’s probably a small taste).
Still, thanks for the new bike racks. It makes me feel like we can indeed expect future bike needs to be met as well.
On Wednesday the 18th, I attended the November meeting of the Miami Beach Bikeways Committee at Miami Beach City Hall. We met in the Mayor’s Conference Room and once again, City Staff were almost half an hour late to the meeting, and it was mentioned this would be addressed later on.
In general this was a very non-productive meeting, yielding only two resolutions and some updates that were not very well explained. It also left me with a bit of a sour taste in regards to the commitment of City Staff, and in turn the City of Miami Beach itself, to the Bikeways Committee and what it represents for this city.
With the minutes from the " onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www.slowbikemiami.com/my-first-miami-beach-bikeways-committee-meeting/" target="_blank">', 'previous meeting');">previous meeting approved and no guests other than myself, we got to the updates immediately.
Christine Bettin of the Transportation Dept requested we submit a formal resolution to have the Bike Master Plan (which I learned for the first time is actually called the Atlantic Greenway Network) be updated. The Master Plan was first approved in 2007 and needs a regular update anyway to account for lessons learned over the last two years, as well as to include new proposed additions, such as better bikeways coverage on state roads within Miami Beach, and the addition of some sort of bikeway facility on Lenox Ave, as discussed last meeting. A separate-yet-related resolution was also drafted to send a formal communiqué to FDOT requesting enhanced bicycle safety considerations along Miami Beach state roads.
I’d like to digress for a moment to comment on the proposed facilities. Last meeting, one Committee member voiced opposition to any kind of bikeway on Lenox, calling it “overkill.” After bicycling around my new home in South Beach for a little over a week, including several trips up and down Lenox, I couldn’t agree more. Lenox is a low-traffic volume street (unlike Meridian Ave, which would be a prime candidate for a bike boulevard, in my opinion) that simply does not need any kind of bikeways improvement to make it amenable to bicyclists. Furthermore, because it is bisected between 11th and 12th Streets by the running track and soccer pitch at Flamingo Park, it presents a problem for bicyclists, which are forced to detour west to Alton Rd (FDOT already put its foot down that there would be no bikeways on Alton, and the sidewalk between these two streets, while of average width, also contains a bus stop right at the corner of 11th) or two blocks east to Jefferson Ave so they can cut through Flamingo Park, then ride two blocks west again on 13th St to rejoin Lenox Ave. This works just fine now because it is an organic bike route, so people adjust as needed, but for a City-delineated and paid Public Works project this is simply inefficient and a waste of money and resources. A far simpler, and cheaper, alternative would be to install Bike Route signs along Lenox Ave, officially designating it as such to both bicyclists and motorists without the need for further monetary expenditures.
Someone named Keith, a Project Manager for the City, gave updates on some projects which, frankly, only made sense if you had been there before to catch the ongoing narrative. Something is being done on Collins Park and Phase 1 is almost done; the Bayshore Right Of Way project is also on its way; and someone is measuring traffic at 51st St but it isn’t the City, and I missed if he said something about any bikeways along that route.
Xavier Falconi from the Transportation Dept gave a quick update on the Dade Boulevard bike path he presented at length last meeting. The section along the Botanical Gardens/Holocaust Memorial (between Convention Center Dr and Meridian Ave) seems to be now a formal part of the Dade Blvd bikeway. This project, one of the most important ones for Miami Beach bicyclists in my opinion, given how dangerous the high-speed traffic in Dade is, is not set to commence for about a year anyway, though we did learn that it will include a bicycle traffic light at the intersection of Dade and Alton Rd (the first one in Miami-Dade County?).
The 71st St/Normandy Dr Bike Path project by FDOT was briefly discussed. As noted last meeting, FDOT held a public viewing of its plans for the thoroughfare which include a series of bike lanes along its length. The bike lanes will suffer from DBL (Disappearing Bike Lane) Syndrome, as they will only cover one side of the busy split east-west corridor and skip some sections near the Normandy Fountain area due to on-street parking, which is, sadly, where a bike lane would be needed the most due to the heavy traffic there. Props go to the City for getting FDOT to extend the bike lanes all the way east to Abbot Ave, two blocks more than the previous abrupt end at Bay Dr East. Personally, while I welcome the addition of any bikeways on 71st/Normandy, without this being a complete lane allowing for safe bicycle travel along its length, it becomes a bit of a joke. It will take, G-d forbid, some accidents in the area for agencies to realize that either they do it correctly all the way through, or they look for an alternative that they can properly implement right from the start.
Though bike racks appears last in the agenda, they were actually discussed during Keith’s presentation of updates. Bettin informed that the City had started to receive new bike racks and that some had been already installed in the North Beach/Normandy Isle commercial district (I don’t recall seeing any new ones before I moved, but I may have just missed them). Once again the issue of bike racks at the new mall at 5th and Alton Rd was brought up. I’ve visited the new Publix there repeatedly and only once have I been able to use one of the two actual bike racks available, instead locking my bike to trees or garbage cans all other times. Bettin and Falconi mentioned that they were indeed in talks with the developer to place more bike racks at the mall, but that amenable to the idea as they were, they were “unresponsive” to calls and emails.
The proposed new ordinance requiring private developers in the City to provide on-street and secured bike parking was discussed inasmuch as we talked about where developers would get the required bike racks. The City does not provide nor sell them, only directing developers to their supplier, which can grant developers the City’s discount—a measly $165 for each stainless-steel “staple” bike rack. The City, however, enforces that all bike racks that can be seen from the public right of way must be the same as that used by the City. This is yet another example of how this ordinance, which I adore in theory, falls apart in practice. On top of the City not assuming an equal role as that required of private developers in providing bike parking according to the minimum numbers stated in the ordinance, it can also penalize those developers that choose, for whatever reason, to use a different style of bike rack for their projects (the use of the City-designated standard is not enforced in the ordinance, but merely a recommendation from City Hall). Yes, in practice this City-mandated homogeneity of bike racks is not really enforced, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be; the moment you get an overzealous cop or the City needs the extra revenue, the story will be very different.
The idea of the City hosting a Bike Safety Program, like the one recently held at Tropical Park was brought up, but not really given much attention. Falconi could not really comment on how much the Mayor/City would commit to it and requested that this be formally brought up at a later meeting for discussion.
The issue of City Staff being late was finally brought up. A Committee member noted that for the past 6-8 months, the City Staff, which already is in the City Hall building, has been consistently late to meetings, whereas Committee members, all volunteers who take time off work to attend, have been on time. The idea of moving the meetings to another day and/or time was tossed about for about 10 minutes but there was just too much discord as to what would be a good fit for all. It was agreed to leave them on the third Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM and it was requested of the City Staff to please arrive on time. They in turn asked if perhaps other options could be found that did not necessitate them being present; perhaps a written report could be sent. The problem with reports, as was countered, is that you can’t ask questions of them, and without City Staff present, there’s basically no meeting. Both Keith and Falconi flat out stated that they were stretched thin by the cuts at City Hall (Falconi actually said, “You’re lucky if you get one of us in here,” referring to himself and Bettin) and that their time was short as it was, that they could not really commit beyond doing their best at the given dates.
The December meeting date was shuffled about a bit before being completely scrapped. This is good in that it gives two months to see if some actual updates can be discussed come January, but it sucks because it is two months without anything going on.
I asked about the Bike Share Program but was told this was left for December’s meeting, which now means January. I did get the email of the person in the Parking Dept (?!) that is in charge, so I will be inquiring on my own.
As I said above, I felt this meeting was not productive at all; I don’t necessarily think each meeting will yield great results, but this just felt so flat. The one actual item of progress was merely a motion to request that the Bike Master Plan be updated, which to me seems like such an extra step but I understand that this is just government bureaucracy procedure. The updates to current road/bikeways projects were insubstantial unless you were intimate with the previous details (and in the Committee’s defense, I was the only guest, so I assume they were all knowledgeable of what was being talked about), and the issue of bike racks felt like what it normally feels, like the token project where progress is easy to gauge and the City can point at and say they are doing something.
The City Staff’s quick desire to find ways to excuse themselves from these meetings, above all, tinged the whole affair for me, and left me seriously wondering exactly how committed is Miami Beach towards improvement of bicycling in the city. I applaud that at a time when budgets have been cut and workloads raised, these City employees continue to attend, but then again, unless I am sorely mistaken, isn’t this part of their job as well? The Bikeways Committee was created at the behest of Mayor Herrera-Bower, so I assume it is something she is interested in (assume being the key word here, as beyond the creation of the Committee, the Mayor’s interest and involvement are not clear at all) and by consequence City Hall as well, but I remain skeptical of it. Why, for example, is there no Bicycle Coordinator in Miami Beach? Budget cuts, I’m sure is the answer, but where are the savings and the efficiency if the staff members assigned to attend to the business which a Bike Coordinator would be taking care of (like attending Bikeways Committee meetings and being their liaison with City Hall) are looking for ways out?
I admit this may not be entirely fair to the City Staff involved in these meetings, but it is the impression given.
I hope that the winter break will give time for progress to happen and that when we reconvene in January there are some actual updates to report. In the meantime, I have sent Christine Bettin a solution that will hopefully mean the Atlantic Greenway Network (aka Miami Beach Bike Master Plan) will soon be available for download from the City website for public perusal. Maybe we can even hope for a page on the City website for the Bikeways Committee to also share each meeting’s minutes and thus be more public? I can wish.lable for download from the City website for public perusal. Maybe we can even hope for a page on the City website for the Bikeways Committee to also share each meeting’s minutes and thus be more public? I can wish.
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