Posts by: Daniel M. Perez

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

PRESS RELEASE

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 ).

For about a month, Florida bike blogs have been awash in calls to request the veto of Highway Bill 971 (HB971) by Gov. Crist. I was one of them. When I first saw the post come through Twitter, I immediately retweeted it to all my followers and posted about it here at Transit Miami.

Thing is, I’m not entirely sure WHAT about the bill is it that we’re raising a ruckus about. I assure you, I’m not being facetious or outright annoying; I just really want to know.

The call to arms centers around the changes to the state law dealing with bicycle lanes. Here is the actual text found on HB971 (PDF link) (strikethrough are deletions, underlined are additions):

316.2065 Bicycle regulations.—
(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, or substandard-width lane, that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too  narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.
(20) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation as provided in chapter 318. A law enforcement officer may issue traffic citations for a violation of subsection (3) or subsection (16) only if the violation occurs on a bicycle path or road, as defined in s. 334.03. However, a law enforcement officer they may not issue citations to persons on private property, except any part thereof which is open to the use of the public for purposes of  vehicular traffic.

I don’t see what is wrong with the information above. Yes, it mandates that bicycles must use bike lanes when present, but it does not take away a bicycle’s right to the regular road use under circumstances which make the use of the bike lane impracticable. The call to attention is centered on the “must ride in the bicycle lane” part, but isn’t that the point of why we ask and advocate for bicycle lanes, so we can use them while we ride?

(The bill also raises other issues which I’ve always seen listed as secondary, like allowing for a process where a person convicted of 4 or more DUI can reapply to have their driving privileges reinstated after meeting a series of requirements. I’m all for second chances, but 4+ DUI convictions seems troublesome to me. But again, I always see this listed as a secondary reason for the request of a veto.)

So, I honestly ask, what exactly about that wording is it why we’re asking for a veto?

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Here’s a quick recap of the salient points from these meetings.

April Meeting (PDF)

  • 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).

May Meeting

  • 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!

Recently, all Bike Miami assets were transferred back to the City of Miami for their management, including all social media components, like the Facebook page and the @BikeMiami Twitter account. For a while I managed the Twitter account as a volunteer, stepping down once I started university classes back in January (though always still helping out with relevant tweets here and there). Being part of the bicycling advocacy community is something I hold very dear, so I decided to continue the work I was doing with @BikeMiami with a new account.

To that end I launched @BikeMIA, an independent source of bicycling commentary, news and advocacy for Miami and South Florida in general. BikeMIA is a primarily-Twitter source; it has a blog attached to it at BikeMIA.org, but it’s there to serve as support to the Twitter feed, not to supplant it.

Follow @BikeMIA on Twitter today and chat bikes with all the enthusiasts around. Not on Twitter yet? What are you waiting for, sign up for a free account today.

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Our Central Florida friends at CommuteOrlando.com have made us aware of a little-known fact that could mean big changes to bike lane use in Florida.

Unbeknownst to Florida Bicycle Association, a mandatory bike lane use provision was included in the Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles bill.  The bill also allows local governments to permit mopeds, golf-carts and other motorized vehicles on sidewalks and trails.

Call Governor Crist as soon as you can to ask him to veto this bill. Executive Office of the Governor Switchboard: (850) 488-7146

According to the wording on this bill, use of a bike lane by a person on a bicycle would be mandatory, by law (though unstated for sure, this could be either at the expense of, or in direct conflict with, our right to ride on the road). As stated above, it would also allow local governments to permit motorized vehicles on bike lanes and trails.

In my opinion, mandating the presence of bike lanes on all applicable road projects is great. Mandating the use of said bike lane at all costs is not. In Miami Beach I already have to contend with city golf carts around the South Beach promenades as it is, I’d hate to have to deal with the army of scooters and mopeds we have down here as well. Then there’s e-bikes, and I have not made up my mind about those yet.

Quoting from the CommuteOrlando.com post:

Why it’s bad for pedestrians:

It’s bad enough that pedestrians have to suffer parked cars blocking sidewalks, being blasted by sprinklers, sidewalk bicyclists who don’t announce themselves when passing, and thousands of other nuisances, now they’ll have to share stretches of sidewalk in some jurisdictions with motorized vehicles.  Local governments will be able to permit mopeds, golf-carts, motorized scooters and other vehicles which don’t belong on sidewalks and on “bike paths.”  The law limits such vehicles to 15 mph, but how will that be enforced?

It’s time for Florida’s bicyclists and pedestrians to send a strong message: “We will not be marginalized.”

I can’t say I disagree at all.

You can also email the Governor at Charlie.Crist@myflorida.com.

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Google Street-View Bike - photo by Daniel M. Perez

Two weeks ago, the Google street-view bicycle was in town, visiting both campuses of Florida International University (Modesto Maidique Campus in Westchester, and Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami Beach). While some areas of both campuses can already be seen in Google Maps’ street-view feature, the bike was taking photographic data to complete the view of everything in between the main streets crisscrossing the campuses. We’ll keep an eye on Google Maps to see when these new views show up and let you know. Thanks to the person responsible for getting the Google Street-View Team down here (I know who it was but I don’t know he wishes his identity to be made public).

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Bike Lane on SW 127 Ave - photo by Daniel M. Perez

Speculated upon by Miami Bike Scene last week, yesterday I spotted the brand new bike lanes on SW 127th Avenue, stretching from Bird Road (42nd Street) to Miller Drive (56th Street). I’m told by a resident of the area that the road is used by a lot of people on bicycles, so hopefully the bike lane will make it safer for them to ride and make it more obvious to drivers that they need to watch out for bicycles sharing the road.

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I saw this first via Twitter and it left me going “Whaaaat?” It’s called YikeBike, and it’s what its creators term a “mini-farthing,” a modern and miniaturized evolution of the venerable penny farthing bicycle.

Launched back in November at Eurobike, the YikeBike stands out, in my opinion, as the most unique of the new crop of e-bikes sweeping the industry. It looks like an ergonomic desk chair, I know, but I guess that’s part of its appeal. Check out the promotional video created to show off the bike.

The YikeBike was created by a British company and thinking of the London Downtown area, it makes perfect sense how this could be a useful personal mobility system. In Miami, however, I could see it being used on the Beach, maybe in Coconut Grove or Coral Gables, but considering the drivers we boast, I can hardly imagine Yike riders exploring the areas in between neighborhoods. In the places where it could work, though, I could really see this working well.

Much like the Segway this product seems to be aiming to compete against, price becomes the major factor in its adoptability: $4450.00 USD.

Mind you, personally I think that a regular, good ole bicycle is the simplest, most perfect answer to urban personal mobility, but I also cannot help but like to be attracted to neat, futuristic technology. I think it’s an interesting idea with an even more interesting design, and it will be cool to see how it does in the general market. Maybe we can convince YikeBike to send one down to Miami for road testing.

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 following arrived via email in my Inbox this morning, from Gabrielle Redfern.

Dear Friends:

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.

Gabrielle

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.

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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.

I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say that Christopher Lecanne’s death last Sunday could have been avoided. There are a number of factors that contributed to that tragic event, starting with Carlos Bertonatti’s decision to inebriate himself and then drive back home under the influence. This was not an accident. Bertonatti may not have set out to kill Lecanne, but the moment he decided to drive under the influence he accepted, consciously or not, that he could be an instrument to death. And he was. But there was also an aspect to the event that has to deal with the bicycling infrastructure on which Lecanne transited, namely the bike lane that puts people on bicycles right next to cars on a road where drivers routinely overshoot the speed limit.

This event highlighted something that bicycle advocates in Miami have been telling those in positions of power for days, weeks, months and years prior: our roadways are not safe for people on human-powered vehicles. Key Biscayne is one of Miami’s premier cycling location, the place where, if anywhere, going beyond the strict requirements of the law would be worth it given the amount of people on bicycles that use it. And yet, as written by Esther Calas, P.E., Director of Miami-Dade County Public Works Department, the facilities there only meet the State and Federal requirements. That’s all they shot for, without consideration that this particular area could use some specifications that go beyond.

Key Biscayne is a microcosm of Greater Miami. The tragedy that took place on Key Biscayne last week can, and has, and will, happen elsewhere in Miami wherever bikes and car are forced to co-exist without the proper attention as to how that coexistence needs to happen for safety’s sake. Need proof? Look no further than October 2009 and the sad case of teenager Rodolfo Rojo, killed on Biscayne Boulevard.

How many more Rojos or Lecannes will it take before those people in positions of power, people put there by our very own votes, will finally get the message and take action to protect the bicycle-riding segment of the population they represent and serve?

As it is usually the case, the tragedy has acted as a catalyst and now we’re getting responses and promises from people like Commissioner Sarnoff and Miami Dade County Mayor Alvarez (still notably missing is Miami Mayor Regalado). I hope these lead to actual changes, I really do. Maybe this will make people realize that bicycle advocates are not just talking to hear themselves talk when we tell politicians over and over than more and better bicycling infrastructure can and does help keep people safe when on human-powered vehicles.

Bicycle riding isn’t a fad. It is an accepted, long-standing and continually-increasing form of transportation, one that has to be taken seriously and accounted for in current and future plans for the cities and county of Miami.

When it comes to Lecanne, could a separated bike lane have saved his life? We’ll never know for sure. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could figure it out before we have another such tragedy in our hands?

Today was the first time I used one of the bike racks mounted on the MDT buses, as I did a bike-bus commute from South Beach to FIU Biscayne Bay. I boarded the 93 bus at Omni station and loaded my bike onto the rack closest to the driver. I should note that I ride a steel city bike with a pair of panniers - this is a heavy bike with an even heavier rear wheel area. But I got it on and locked it into place following the instructions on the MDT website. It still felt wobbly so I asked the driver if I’d done it correctly, to which she responded with a non-committal sound I took to mean yes.

Long story short (the longer version was posted to my blog), the locking mechanism slipped off the front wheel and the bike fell off the rack at my stop on 135 St & Biscayne Blvd, being hit by the bus into the next lane. It wasn’t run over, thankfully, but it was damaged so I couldn’t ride it. The driver reported it but did nothing else, shifting the blame entirely onto me and then leaving without even saying sorry. I filed a complaint via the MDT website but I fully expect them to blow their nose with it. I accept it was partly my fault because I may not have locked it properly, but I also asked for confirmation from the driver and received none. The driver also obviously was not paying attention to the bike otherwise she would have noticed when the locking arm slipped off.

I see bikes on the bus racks every day and I assume these reach their destination fine and dandy. But while I realize my case may be out of the ordinary, I cannot be the only person who has used these racks for the first time and did not know if they were used correctly. The buses should have better signage explaining the proper operation of the locking mechanism, and the drivers should be trained (and frankly required) to make sure that bikes are properly secured, especially when people ask them explicitly. While MDT may not make itself responsible for every single bike that goes on one of their bus bike racks, it cannot be good for business (to appeal to the basest denominator) if cases like mine happen more often.

Has anyone else out there had a problem with the MDT bus bike racks?

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Yesterday morning I took the scenic route back home from the synagogue, going down all of Lincoln Road Mall, to the Oceanwalk Promenade, then up 5th St before heading home (see the MapMyRide.com Map). On a whim, I decided to count all the bikes I came across my way, whether parked or with riders. Everyone knows we have a lot of bicyclists here in the Beach, but I wanted to have a very rough headcount. It was 10 AM, and the temp was in the mid 50s, so I figured I would see only those out exercising, and those on their way to/from/already at work.

When all was said and done, I counted 146 bikes, including me, with about 85 of them being spotted just along Lincoln Rd. I am no urban statisticians, but that seemed like a lot of bikes for a 3/4-mile long stretch, let alone for the 2.5 miles of my entire trip. And that fills me with joy.

Check out these pics (click for larger version).

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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.

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