The Middle River Neighborhood in the City of Fort Lauderdale is considering three options for their section of North Dixie Highway, including rejecting $2.3 million is MPO funding that would include a road diet, new and improved crosswalks and a solid green bike lane that would continue along the section to the north (into Wilton Manors).
Neighbors and local business owners packed a public meeting tonight and some argued for paving the swale on one side with a 12 ft wide shared use path (sidewalk) instead of accepting funding for the green lanes. Why would they want to do this?
Some arguments made for the “shared-use path” option:
- Even if the speed is 30mph, I drive 40mph, at least, so cyclists should ride on the sidewalk for their own safety. [Response: that’s why city is recommending multiple traffic calming measures, including speed tables at crossings.]
- No one has ever been killed by a car reversing out of a driveway while they were riding a bike on a sidewalk. [Response: You’re lucky. Many people are not.]
- Narrowing the travel lanes to 10’ will slow down traffic too much and how can that be legal when trucks can be 8 ½ ‘ wide. [The purpose of this project, even the shared use path option, is to discourage tractor trailers from this roadway.]
- Why do we need any of this? Can’t we just leave everything the way it is? [Response: Well, yes on both. If we don't use it, another city project in the LRTP pipeline will.]
- Is there any proof that bike lanes increase property values? The local economy?
My response, of course, is there are several. Here are a few that come to mind:
- In 2010, rents along NYC’s new Times Square-area green bike lanes increased 71% – the greatest rise in the city.[APTA]
- When San Francisco put its own 4-lane Valencia Street through a project similar to the one proposed for Dixie Highway (road diet, adding bike lanes and better pedestrian crossings], nearly 40% of local business owners reported increased sales and 60% reported more area residents shopping locally due to reduced travel time and convenience. Two-thirds said business improved overall. [San Francisco Bicycle Coalition]
- Across American cities, houses located in areas that are particularly bicycle and/or pedestrian friendly are worth as much as $34,000 more than comparable houses with just average walkability/bikeability. [CEOs for Cities]
- Toronto merchants surveyed in 2009 reported that patrons who came by bike or on visit not only stopped in their stores more often, but spent more money per month than those who came by car. [Clean Air Partnership]
- Find more stats in this article: Want to make money? Build Your Business on a Bike Lane (FastCo.exist)
There are more reasons to support the “green bike lanes” option:
- It has secured funding. Changing the concept negates the funding approval years in development and would leave the city to find money elsewhere.
- The bike lane concept includes funding for bio-swales, a critically needed and environmentally sound flood mitigation tool.
- Continuity. The lanes are planned for the contiguous section directly to the north. It is unfortunate the local politics and funding challenges have lead to so many sidewalks that end and bike lanes/trails/paths to nowhere. I hope that doesn’t happen here.
- People who ride for transportation are not required to ride on sidewalks, no matter how wide they are. Those who do, put themselves at risk at every driveway and reduce to safety of the path for kids and those walking their dogs.
- Road treatments like this reduce speeds and therefore improve safety for everyone. [NYC DOT]
There was a time when city officials and engineers were the ones fighting the bike facilities here in South Florida. The times are changing – will a different kind of local politics prevent our governments from doing the right thing in favor of cars and trucks?
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