Have you traveled along Sunset Drive recently? Between SW 84 Place and SW 69 Avenue – right by three elementary schools, historic places of worship, a beautiful public park and several shops and restaurants – FDOT is pushing through a project without consideration of public opinion, the needs of the adjacent community or the safety of those of us who use the roadway. Sound like strong words? Consider that at last night’s public meeting, which was more like a sales pitch than a conversation, FDOT did not present any options directed at improving safety for users with the exception of ‘Share the Road’ signs. They seemed shocked that so many people came to the meeting to begin with, and then they talked about moving cars, not people. We know that most people traveling along this road are in cars, but bicycle lanes improve safety for them, too. That’s right – people drive better, cyclists ride better and even pedestrians are safer when streets are designed to accommodate all of them and, more specifically, bike lanes are striped.
Moreover, from USDOT down, transportation agencies are encouraging a greater ‘modal split’, or more bicycling, walking and transit use. This is particularly important along Sunset Drive, where local residents could easily walk to school, church, the store, etc. It is important because people who bicycle through this area do not have real parallel street alternatives. It is important because FDOT is funded through federal dollars, and federal dollars are not coming to Florida or our auto-centric projects.
Please don’t think that your voice doesn’t make a difference. FDOT needs to hear from you, needs to know that you care about the safety of our infamously dangerous public roads. I keep hearing from last night’s public meeting that the project is clearly already done, already designed. Until they start breaking up concrete, they have to listen to taxpayers. Besides, we are really just asking them to follow their own policies and those of the USDOT.
Your letter doesn’t have to be long, but I encourage you to email it and cc the Miami-Dade MPO, FDOT’s top safety and roadway design officials and The Miami Herald. The letter I sent this morning is copied here:
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Dear Mr. Pego:
As a lifelong Floridian and active citizen, I am concerned that FDOT is going against state policies (335.065, copied below), common sense safety practices and the direction from USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood by refusing resident requests that bike lanes be incorporated into the Sunset Drive project.
As recommended by the resolution of the Miami-Dade MPO’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee and by so many of the local residents at last night’s public meeting, I am requesting that the median be narrowed by 1 foot on each side and bicycle lanes included. Wide lanes, as you know, encourage speeding by motorists, while narrowing lanes and adding bike lanes reduce motorist speeds and increase safety for all road users.
Wide curb lanes can be ideal in some cases, however, where the speed differential is as extreme as it is on Sunset Drive between SW 84 Place and SW 69 Avenue, bicycle lanes make the most sense. They are also a significant source ofmoney from Washington.
Sec. LaHood recently stated on video that “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”(http://fastlane.dot.gov/2010/03/my-view-from-atop-the-table-at-the-national-bike-summit.html) He goes on to say that DOT’s commitment to bicycling facilities is evidenced by the number of TIGER grants that went to bicycle projects across this country. Could this be a reason why the state of Florida did not receive any of these funds? More money will be coming from Washington – let’s pave (and stripe!) the way to these dollars in FDOT District 6.
More formally, Sec. LaHood announced the following Department of Transportation Policy, available for your reference here: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/bicycle-ped.html: ”The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life —transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.”
But again, bicycle lanes make the road safer for EVERYONE. They discourage cyclists from using the sidewalk (reducing cyclist/pedestrian conflicts) and they even reduce motorist collisions. Please see the 2006 UT-Austin study demonstrating increased safety for motorists where bicycle lanes are present:http://www.utexas.edu/news/2006/09/18/engineering/
I’d like to close by stating that Marjory Stoneman Douglas was an icon for me growing up. I met her as a child and she was committing to promoting sustainable living even in her final years. Given that this road is named in her honor, I am all the more convinced that bicycle lanes make sense.
In short, bicycle lanes are safer, their implementation makes for successful and sustainable policy and in the case of Sunset Drive, they just make sense.
Thank you for considering all users as you move to finalize design for this project. I look forward to your reply.
Kathryn Reid Moore
South Florida Bike Coalition
http://SFBikeCoalition.wordpress.com [Anyone think he'll read my blog?]
(1)(a) Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), bicycle and pedestrian ways are not required to be established:
1. Where their establishment would be contrary to public safety;
2. When the cost would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use;
3. Where other available means or factors indicate an absence of need.
(2) The department shall establish construction standards and a uniform system of signing for bicycle and pedestrian ways.
(3) The department, in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall establish a statewide integrated system of bicycle and pedestrian ways in such a manner as to take full advantage of any such ways which are maintained by any governmental entity. For the purposes of this section, bicycle facilities may be established as part of or separate from the actual roadway and may utilize existing road rights-of-way or other rights-of-way or easements acquired for public use.
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