Believe it or not, but the most densely populated and arguably most walkable city in Florida does not have a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. Actually, please let me clarify- the City of Miami Beach had a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, but decided to eliminate this position two years ago when the position became vacant. Yep, you read that correctly. Miami Beach, a city where people walk and bike everywhere does not consider cyclists and pedestrians seriously enough to merit a full-time position. This is truly amazing to me. Well, I guess it just goes to show where the city’s priorities are.
Sources close to Transit Miami informed us that about two years ago the Budget Advisory Committee that is comprised of residents appointed by commissioners and the mayor (as well as a CPA and Financial Advisor) voted against keeping this position. I believe the funds for the position where shifted to create a position in the Public Works Department. Shameful.
South Beach in particular, desperately needs a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. Now that Deco Bike, the city’s new bike share program is in full swing, they city should prioritize the expansion of its almost non-existent bicycle infrastructure. So what do you say Miami Beach? Are you gonna step-up and deliver?
There is a lot of work to be done on Miami Beach to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. If and when the city does hire a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, the first step would be to commission a proper Miami Beach Bicycle Master Plan. I remember reviewing the city’s current bicycle master plan a couple of years ago and saying “Wow, this is really awful.” You can find more information about the Miami Beach Bicycle Program here.
Please email City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and let him know that Miami Beach needs a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.
The City of Miami Beach will unveil the region’s first bicycle sharing system here on Wednesday, March 15th, with the introduction of Deco Bike. When complete the system will cover all of Miami Beach south of 85th street with about 1,000 bikes and 100 stations. Deco Bike President Colby Reese gave me a tour of his factory recently, and talked about the challenges presented in being the first to roll out a bike share system in our region.
Phase 1 of implementation will include 50 stations and up to 500 bikes sprinkled throughout Miami Beach south of 43rd Street. Each bike station can hold 12 bikes, and takes the space of two parking spaces.
Lost parking shouldn’t be a concern, says Reese, who notes that Miami Beach has added over 1,000 spaces over the past several years, including the much discussed Herzog and de Meuron designed sculptural garage. Stations will be located in key locations around the city, with more bikes and stations to come in Phase 2, which Reese hopes will come as soon as 60-90 days after the initial rollout. Plans for phase 2 call for expanding the network up to 85th Street, totaling 100 stations, and approximately 1,000 bikes.
One challenges Reese noted was negotiating with FDOT over locating stations in FDOT right-of-way. According to Reese, station locations at the corner of 5th and Alton were relocated because FDOT was requesting financial concessions for their approval of Deco Bike’s station permit. Never mind that the right-of-way is publicly owned and that this system will help expand bicycle mode share - FDOT just wanted their cut of the pie. Luckily, most streets in Miami Beach are not maintained by FDOT, so the crisis was averted, but it does go to show the priorities of our Department of Transportation.
Beach residents will be able to get an unlimited $15/monthly pass, while tourists and other beach visitors will have hourly and daily options as well. Already one of the most walkable and bikable places in South Florida, Miami Beach is uniquely poised to take advantage of the the benefits of a city-wide bike share system. With the implementation of sharrows on Washington and elsewhere in the beach, upcoming revised bicycle parking standards, and now the implementation of a city-wide bikeshare program, Miami Beach is making big strides to expand bicycle use around the city. If successful, other cities in the region like Miami and Coral Gables would be smart to look to Deco Bike as a partner in creating a regional bike share network.
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