On Thursday, June 2nd, The City of Miami Bicycle Initiatives hosted the Miami Bicycle Summit at The Grove Spot in Coconut Grove, Miami.  A variety of speakers, including city and county planners and public officials presented to an audience of local citizens and bicycle advocates, followed by a spirited question and answer session.  The meeting was an informative overview of ongoing bicycle projects –  but also highlighted the lingering disconnect between public agencies and advocates.

City of Miami District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff opened the summit by announcing monetary awards to both the South Florida Bicycle Coalition and the Green Mobility Network. The SFBC received $5,000, which will go towards the installation of ’3 Feet’ law signs such as those in place on A1A in Palm Beach County. The Green Mobility Network also received $5,000 toward the creation of a bicycle map for the City of Miami. The Commissioner concluded by saying, “We need to continue to improve biking and bike safety, if nothing else, because it’s simply the right thing to do”.

From the city of Coral Gables, Commissioner Ralph Cabrerra announced the launch of ‘Gables Bike Day’ for October 23rd. As part of this event, the city of Coral Gables will close numerous streets to automobile traffic, including the Miracle Mile and Ponce de Leon.

David Henderson, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator for the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization, presented a comprehensive overview of the pedestrian and bicycle program for the county. Despite the recent T4America report describing Miami as being one of the most dangerous place to ride a bike in the USA, Henderson stated that simply is not the case, laying out some particularly interesting facts regarding cycling projects and safety trends, including:
  • In 1999, there were 100 miles of multi-use paths, 10 miles of bike lanes and 70 miles of paved shoulders in Miami-Dade County.
  • Now, there are 130 miles of multi-use paths, 70 miles of bike lanes and 30 wide-curb lanes with many more in the planning stages.
  • Bicycle parking increasing at Metrorail stations and pedestrian/cycling counts increasing in downtown area.
  • Bicycle injuries are down, and have dropped by half since 1990. Still, 65 pedestrians and 12 cyclists were killed in accidents in M-D county last year.
Both Henderson and Jeff Cohen, from Miami-Dade Public Works, touched on the recent ThinkBike workshop held earlier in May and the plans to implement projects studied during that meeting, including bike lanes on Miami Avenue and a cycle track proposal along NW 14 Street, through the Health District. While many in the audience were excited about these two projects possibly coming to fruition, there was palpable frustration amongst many when the potential timing of the project was discussed later in the evening. First, a traffic study must be commissioned in those areas to observe traffic volumes and patterns. Unfortunately, this study will not be done until the fall, when the school year begins. Audience members were assured that once the study is completed the project would move forward (which begs the question, why waste time and money on a traffic study if the project will move forward anyway? what possible benefit will result from the pseudo-science of traffic engineering?) This was disappointing to many in the audience, as some questioned the delay for the study, given that stretch of Miami Avenue does not have any major schools on or near it.

Cohen continuted to provide a thorough overview of bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the county, past and present. Among the notable project is the planned construction of a pedestrain/bicycle bridge on the Commodore Bike Trail in the Cocoplum neighborhood. Also, downtown Miami streets that were recently resurfaced will be marked with ‘sharrows’.

Ken Jeffries from the FDOT was scheduled to present, however two FDOT consultants from Kimley-Horn, John McWilliams and Stewart Robertson were on-hand instead as Jeffries was not present. Robertson and McWilliams highlighted the three basic types of bicycle facility in FDOT standards – bike lanes, wide curb lanes, and shared use paths. They also discussed the FDOT’s ‘commitment’ to the Florida Complete streets policy and the development of a pedestrian/cyclist checklist for engineers to use when considering projects (too bad they miss the point – streets are more than mere engineering projects).  ‘Sharrows’ were also a major topic, as the FDOT has adopted their use. A planned FDOT project on Sunset Drive will experiment with using ‘sharrows’ on the roadway, which has a posted speed limit of 40mph. Sharrows are usually reserved for lower speed limit roadways. Again, many in the audience were frustrated that this project will not include a designated or physically separate bike lane on such a busy roadway with a high speed limit.

The consultants were questioned heavily on their explanation of design speeds, especially on the MacArthur Causeway. Audience members questioned the safety of the bike lane designated on the MacArthur, given that the design speed of the roadway far surpasses it’s posted speed limit of 50mph. Many individuals in the audience were advocating for a protected bike lane, especially given the ongoing tunnel project, in which the FDOT are planning to add additional travel lanes for traffic. There are no plans currently to alter the scope of the project to better accommodate cyclists on the MacArthur causeway. 

Miami Beach resident Xavier Falconi from the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and touted the success of the Deco Bike Program on Miami Beach and other improvements to bicycle infrastructure, including ‘sharrows’ on Washington Avenue and the development of Bicycle Parking Design Guidelines for the city.

Collin Worth, City of Miami Bicycle Coordinator, wrapped up the evenings presentations, mentioning a RFP (Request for Proposal) for a bike share program in downtown Brickell and Omni area and the City’s goal of eventually becoming a designated Bicycle Friendly Community.

TransitMiami would like to thank Collin Worth for helping organize and plan the evening. It is clear that some are taking the needs of cyclists seriously in Miami by improving infrastructure and raising awareness – but much more needs to be done. Our policymakers and public employees need to understand that streets are more than just exercises in traffic engineering. Streets are for people.

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14 Responses to Miami Bicycle Summit Shows Both Advances in Bicycle Awareness and Lingering Disconnect Between Agencies and Citizens

  1. Brandt says:

    Thanks, I’ve been waiting for this recap! Also, a lot of the concerns the audience had are representative of my concerns as well. While I was reading it, I felt that my mind was being read.

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  2. Collin says:

    Thanks for the post, as for the study that the county is going to do, it will determine what they can do with the roadway. Mr. Cohen was explaining that if the counts allow them to reduce travel lanes on Miami Ave then they would add bike lanes, but if not they may use sharrows. It is dependent on the results.

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  3. brock says:

    Thanks for the recap. It seems like the powers that be are moving forward towards a more cyclist-friendly community, but still much is left to be done. The future is bright fellow Miamians, let’s be optimistic!

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  4. Craig says:

    Brock, I agree. There are many improvements on the horizon. The big missing piece to me is high-level city and county leadership – namely the Mayor(s) office – coming out in full support and being pro-active. Hopefully the new county mayor will be engaged in the issue whoever that may be.

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  5. Tom Blazejack says:

    Excellent article. Thanks!

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  6. aly says:

    Thank you for the recap some progress is better than none. But, the powers that be need to be aware that the unprotected bike lane on MacArthur is regularly used as a pull off site for drivers taking pictures of the islands, and for fisherman, making this bike lane useless and dangerous.

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  7. Vernon6 says:

    Colin – Regarding the traffic study on Miami Avenue, this seems like a very inexact science. I do not know the methodology of such a study, however there are more factors at play than just a traffic count. With the construction on Biscayne Blvd, it is logical to think more motorists would use Miami Avenue as a bypass, increasing the traffic count. As that construction ends and the Biscayne project is completed, it is reasonable to think motorists will be more apt to use Biscayne.

    Also, it is entirely reasonable that some of the motorists on Miami Avenue would be cyclists, if they were given a facility like a cycle track. That would be impossible to measure in a traffic study.

    Either way, I hope the study does not adhere to such rigid criteria as that roadway can easily accommodate a first-class cycle track.

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  8. Felipe Azenha says:

    Vernon6,
    You bring up some great points. I don’t understand why we need yet another traffic study. This is just a waste of time and money. It’s been almost two months since the Dutch ThinkBike workshop and we have seen absolutely no progress on this cycle track.
    After attending the summit, I don’t get the impression we will ever see a cycle track on North Miami Avenue. The County Public Works Department is already putting a spin on this cycle track. I think all we’ll get are sharrows if we’re lucky. Jeff Cohen already stipulated that cycle tracks are a “European Phenomenon”. Those present at the summit pointed out that NYC, San Francisco, Portland, and Denver already have cycle tracks. Mr. Cohen then went on to say that Cycle Tracks are not MUTCD approved.

    I guess what we lack is strong leadership from the County and the City of Miami. If all these other AMERICAN cities can do cycle tracks why can’t Miami? If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we get a cycle track on North Miami Avenue??? Smoke and mirrors baby… The County PWD and the FDOT only do the bare minimum. They are beholden to the MUTCD and its very questionable design standards which make it OK and even “SAFE” (yeah right) to put an unprotected bike lane on highways such as the MacArthur Causeway and the Rickenbacker Causeway.

    There were some positive things that came out of the bike Summit, but for the most part I was not impressed. I walked away more frustrated than inspired. We are still lagging way behind other cities and the CPWD and the FDOT are certainly not doing enough. They can keep tooting their horns, but their actions speak louder than words. There is a sincere lack of initiative, particularly with the FDOT.

    Have there been improvements in the last couple of years? Yes, but not nearly enough. More must be done.

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  9. Vernon6 says:

    Agreed, Felipe. We need to be vigilant in advocating for first-class bicycle facilities to be adopted as part of the ThinkBike findings.

    When Mr.Cohen misguidedly alluded to cycle tracks as a ‘European Phenomenon’, is that to imply they are not worthy of implementation in Miami? What is so threatening about something being European in origin? That the brilliant minds at the MDPWD did not come up with it themselves?

    Furthermore, as the Dutch said, they were amazed by the width of our streets. European cities, New York and many others have become experts at doing more with less, as their streetscapes often deal with much narrower roadways then ours here in south Florida. We have vast expanses of pavement from the ocean to the Everglades.

    See this article from May 3- Cycle Tracks For Safety In Cities. There are a glut of interesting facts inside and great findings from other cities. http://newurbannetwork.com/article/%E2%80%98cycle-tracks%E2%80%99-cities-could-save-bicyclists-lives-14657

    For Miami Avenue, a striped bike lane should be the bare minimum. That road is plenty wide to accommodate more than just sharrows. We cannot let that happen. ThinkBike will unfortunately be a failure if that is the case.

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  10. brock says:

    Question, what ever happened with the Miami Streetcar? Anyone know anything about this, any news?

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  11. Tony Garcia says:

    Streetcar is dead. Sorry.

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  12. [...] the top 10 most dangerous cities in the US for pedestrians and bicyclists, but Miami-Dade County is actively working to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. This according to David Henderson, the Pedestrian and [...]

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  13. [...] number of tragic accidents in the greater Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano area. While the recent Miami Bicycle Summit touted many plans and accomplishments in bicycle infrastructure, the troubling frequency of high-profile accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists requires a [...]

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