Bicyclists make use of the bicycle-only tollbooth lane, a hard fought and deserved concession.
The Miami Herald finally caught up to the bicyclists vs. motorists battle that’s been brewing since Commissioner Carlos Gimenez announced a plan to convert the Rickenbacker tollbooth into a SunPass speedway.
The Herald makes it known that the greater Miami-Dade bicycling community will have to band together so that conditions for cyclists-of all abilities- will not be compromised by the Commissioner’s plan. Thus, if you bicycle on the Causeway with any frequency, please consider speaking up and out about the two proposals. Offering a line of support for the County’s option to keep at least a few vehicle-stopping cash booths in place would be particularly helpful. This would allow motorists and bicyclists to continue to share the Rick’s entrance somewhat safely. Without an unexpected gift of cash to not just redesign the tolling, but the whole Causeway-mainland intersection (see our Complexity Visualized post), this seems to be the most prudent option.
To be sure, recent improvements to the toll booth, bicycle lanes, and signage have improved conditions, but exiting the Causeway and navigating the SW 26th Road/Brickell/South Miami intersection remains dangerous. The only reason it seems more pedestrians and bicyclists aren’t injured here is that traffic is usually backed up, allowing for easy eye contact and motor vehicle concessions to forlorn pedestrians and bicylists making all sorts of invented manuevers to cross the intersection.
Of course, whether on foot or bicycle, the Sunpass would only heighten the danger for those attempting to cross the street.
Both Transit Miami and Spokes n’ Folks have been following this issue closely and will continue reporting on what seems to be a one step forward, two steps back approach to South Florida’s signature recreational destination.
The Miami Herald finally caught up with Brad Knoefler’s Park West/Overtown greenway plan. The article explains the red tape facing Knoefler and his newly anointed Guerilla Urban Planner group. While the general plans are nothing but excellent for the area, figuring out funding, ownership, and maintenance has proven to be a tricky endeavor.
And while some critics agree that the tracks need to be cleaned up, some have expressed concern that it should be done for a Tri-Rail system that actually connects South Florida’s urban centers. To that I say, there is no reason the supposed Rail-to-Trail project couldn’t become a Rail and Trail project where the rails remain, but the path remains alongside the 100 foot right-of-way. Indeed, I believe that is the way it has been designed, as the FEC tracks are still to be used once a year for the circus.
Please do your part and voice support for this important project. Brad and co. have a lot of energy, but they need as much support as they can get in order to make this a reality!
Miami Beach is already a relatively bicycle-friendly city. It’s dense urban pattern, limited geographic area, mixture of uses, and many well-scaled streets — prerequisites for urban bicycling — certainly give it a leg up on all other South Florida municipalities.
However, these qualities alone do not a great bicycle city make.
As demonstrated in cities like Portland, Davis and Boulder — the platinum standard in this country — a well-connected, easily identifiable network of bicycle infrastructure must be put in place if any city is to meet latent demands. Otherwise, as a mode of transportation, bicycling will achieve only a fraction of its potential. It seems this lesson is starting to take hold in Miami Beach, which I believe has the potential to surpass the previously mentioned cities as America’s most bicycle-friendly (I’ll explain how in a future article).
New bicycle racks are being installed on Alton Road.
Within the past few years the city has striped bicycle lanes on portions of 16th Street, Prairie Avenue, the Venetian Causeway, Royal Palm Avenue, and 47th Street. Attractive and recognizable bicycle racks continue to be installed along the cities commercial corridors, including Alton Road, Lincoln Road, and Washington Avenue. Additionally, attractive way-finding signs have been installed which help bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike navigate their way efficiently around the Beach.
Yet, according to the latest edition of Miami Beach Magazine, a quarterly publication distributed to all MB residents, a bonanza of additional bicycle improvements are on the way.
Alton Road, South Pointe Drive, Ocean Drive, and West Avenue are all slated for new bicycle lanes. Additionally, a new “bike path” (not sure if they actually mean lane here) will appear on Dade Boulevard, and hundreds of new racks will continue to be installed along the city’s main corridors and eventually within the neighborhoods. And finally, as we reported earlier this month, a 500 bicycle-sharing system may be implemented as soon as this fall. With the glut of tourists who arrive in Miami Beach every week, and only one other American city with such an amenity, this project may be the most transformative.
Many of the above projects are still in the design stage, and the article did not include a timetable for their completion. Given that I am still waiting for the pilot “sharrows” to be painted along Washington Avenue, I will not hold my breath.
Regardless, these long overdue projects bode will certainly enhance mobility, but most importantly improve accessibility to points and destinations all over Miami Beach. Ultimately, it will also further the city’s reputation as one committed to sustainable transportation.
Evidenced by the articles below - our work with various groups (like the BAC) has already led to minor additions and improvements for Miami’s Bicycling Community. Now, with the Coral Way Bike Lanes underway, we turn our attention to another city project that could benefit from some public input. The city of Miami is working to redesign N Bayshor Drive north of the Venetian Causeway and initial plans omitted bicycle lanes. This project is critical. The addition of Bicycle lanes would provide a much needed outlet for cyclists crossing the Venetian Causeway’s bicycle lanes. It would provide a northern safe route to the Edgwater district (hopefully extending later into the design district) and Margaret Pace Park.
Send us letters in support of the addition of Bicycle lanes to this project and we’ll forward them along to the City’s planning and public works departments.
For those who may not know, at the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in Miami, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz was recently elected to serve as the longstanding organization’s President. Transit Miami has obtained a copy (below) of a resolution drafted by the Transportation and Communications Committee and adopted at this very conference. It is our pleasure to share it with you.
Although it doesn’t guarantee action, it certainly represents an understanding of the inherent benefits associated with bicycling, especially in urban areas. One can hope that it also demonstrates the progress America’s cities continue to make towards livability and sustainability. If anything, to my knowledge, such an on-paper commitment to bicycling has never been so far reaching in this country. Hopefully, this is just the beginning…
RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED AT THE
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
76th Annual Meeting
June 20-24, 2008
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE
ENSURING BICYCLING IS INTEGRATED INTO NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION,
CLIMATE, ENERGY AND HEALTH POLICY INITIATIVES
WHEREAS, bicycling can provide multiple and cross-cutting
benefits in U.S policy initiatives that seek to address
transportation needs, limit climate change and energy
consumption and improve public health; and
WHEREAS, we now live in a nation with 300 million people, and
that number is expected to grow to 365 million by 2030 and to
420 million by 2050 with the vast majority of that growth
occurring in congested urban areas where there are significant
limitations on accommodating increased motor vehicle travel; and
WHEREAS, since 1980, the number of miles Americans drive has
grown three times faster than the U.S. population; and
WHEREAS, a national transportation system that invests in and is
conducive to bicycling reduces traffic congestion in our most
heavily congested urban areas while promoting an overall
improved quality of life that is valuable for the Nation; As
• More than 200 cities throughout the U.S., representing more
than 35 million people have committed to implementing bicycle
friendly action plans to make their communities more bicycle
• The greatest potential for increased bicycle usage is in our
major urban areas where 40 percent of trips are two miles or
less and 28 percent are less than one mile; and
• Surveys show that a majority of people want to ride more but
are dissuaded by concern over traffic danger and other
barriers, and case studies have shown that when those barriers
to bicycling are removed, people start riding; and
WHEREAS, a national network of interconnected urban and rural
bikeways can provide valuable community benefits, including low
or no-cost recreation and alternative transportation options for
people of all ages and abilities
WHEREAS, the transportation sector contributes one-third of the
greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and passenger
automobiles and light trucks alone contribute 21 percent
WHEREAS, 10 percent of global oil production goes solely toward
fueling America’s cars and trucks and the U.S. could save 462
millions of gallons of gasoline a year by increasing cycling
from one percent to one and a half percent of all trips; and
WHEREAS, bicycle commuters annually save on average $1,825 in
auto-related costs, reduce their carbon emissions by 128 pounds,
conserve 145 gallons of gasoline, and avoid 50 hours of gridlock
WHEREAS, over 800 of our Nation’s Mayors have signed onto the
Climate Protection Agreement of the United States Conference of
Mayors urging the Federal Government to enact policies and
programs to meet or exceed a greenhouse gas emission reduction
target of a seven percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012;
WHEREAS, two years ago the Conference of Mayors unanimously
endorsed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, whereby a
key component is to implement climate-friendly land-use policies
and invest in public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian
WHEREAS, the Center for Disease Control estimates that if all
physically inactive Americans became active, we would save $77
billion in annual medical costs
WHEREAS, the United States is challenged by an obesity epidemic
in which 65 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or
obese, and 13 percent of children and adolescents are
overweight, due in large part to a lack of regular activity; and
WHEREAS, the percentage of U.S. children who walk or bike to
school has dropped by 70 percent since 1969 such that only 15
percent of students were walking or biking to school in 2001
while the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in recent years,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of
Mayors believes that achieving increased levels of bicycling is
in the national interest; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors
encourages the development and implementation of a coordinated
national bicycling strategy aimed to increase safe bicycle use
as a mode of transportation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors
encourages the development of federal transportation,
environmental and public health policies that recognize
increased and safe bicycle usage for transportation is in the
national interest and that we further urge Congress in the next
federal transportation reauthorization to establish policies and
funding mechanisms that will aim to:
• Reduce the number of motor vehicle miles traveled (VMT); and
• Improve safety conditions for bicyclists; and
• Collect transportation and safety data needed to monitor
• Provide incentives for state and local governments to adopt
and implement Complete Street policies designed to accommodate
all users; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that even absent federal incentives,
Governors and state-level leadership should embrace Complete
Streets policies that acknowledge the contributions of bicycles
as a means to reduce vehicle miles by integrating bicycle use
into standard street design; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that that the U.S. Conference of Mayors
calls on all Mayors that sign onto the Climate Protection
Agreement to develop and implement action plans to incorporate
bicycling programs and policies as a key component in reducing
greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors
encourages every mayor to strive to make their city a Bicycle
Last week I decided to go cycling along the M-Path and was taken aback by the hostility and fragmentation of Miami’s only main Bicycle route. I was even more shocked when last weekend I visited Cambridge again and witnessed first hand the disparity between Miami’s and Cambridge’s cycling facilities. We have a long way to go.
Cambridge is by far one of the friendliest cities in the United States for cycling. Click here for a full citywide map of routes. Most city streets look like the image below and the bike lanes provide a consistent network for area residents.
The M-Path, our “premier” cycling facility is a fragmented trail of hostility. As the M-Path to Enlightenment points out, if you aren’t paying attention and are traveling too fast, you’ll end up in the Miami River along the path’s northern terminus in Downtown Miami. I was taken aback most by the lovely “No Trespassing” signs along the very public right-of-way. A little misleading, isn’t it?
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 (email@example.com) 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…
- Tri-Rail carried more passengers in 2007 than in 2006. The overall system ridership is up 31% since march 2006…
- City of Miami is working on identifying vacant lots to be used for park space…
- The County Commission is trying to get the state and federal government to kick in hundreds of millions of dollars for metrorail expansion, everglades restoration, river dredging, pedestrian overpasses, and a regional homeland security hub among other projects… We’ll cover this in more depth later today…
- Office vacancy rates continue to decline…
- Bike Blog presents a comprehensive wish list for 2008 Bike facilities…
In the post I also compared Route Verte’s length to traveling between Miami and Daytona Beach, or between New York and Washington. However, it’s actually roughly the equivalent of a bike path from Miami to San Diego or from Miami to New York and back.
“You can cycle the Route Verte all at once, section-by-section, or by following your own itinerary. Some people regularly use the sections close to their homes, while others make a special trip a few times per year. The Route Verte can be a personal challenge or a relaxing place to spend your leisure time. You can enjoy it alone, as a family, or with friends. Every year numerous groups organize special outings along portions of the bikeway. When it comes to leisure, tourism, health, and the environment, the Route Verte is an invaluable asset”.
Way to go, Quebec.
I think Florida is currently underutilizing one of the nation’s most scenic roads - A1A. If the state wants to send its own bold message that it is serious about cycling, while simultaneously providing a fantastic coastal transportation asset that would traverse hundreds of communities, it would step up and create a continuous A1A trail. It could be our “Orange Route”.
Photos courtesy of SamediVelo.com, Wikipedia, and Canadatrails’ flickr account
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