Lets face it: Coral Gables is pretty amazing. It sits at the nexus of the county – has amazing architecture, a pedestrian friendly and bustling downtown, and a lush tree canopy that is the envy of the county. It is compact and could be easily accessible by bike for anyone living within a mile of its boundaries. Unfortunately, the City Beautiful doesn’t have a great on-street bicycle network, which makes it difficult to get more people out of their cars and on their bikes enjoying the city. Today the Coral Gables City Commission will consider a resolution to approve a $3.5 million plan to resurface 30 lane miles of Coral Gables streets. Described as “the most ambitious street resurfacing effort ever undertaken by the city,” the resolution lacks any mention of bicycle facilities, and has concerned many Coral Gables residents. While regular maintenance and resurfacing is an important part of keeping our street network in good working order, the city commission may miss a golden opportunity to significantly expand on-street bicycle facilities.
As currently written there is no mention of bicycle facilities in the resolution, even though major routes that connect to current bike lanes, such as Segovia, are identified. Some of the streets identified in the survey above are wide enough to accommodate a variety of bicycle facilities – with simple, cheap white paint. Part of the challenge is that the current city approved 1997 Bike Masterplan for the city focuses exclusively on bike lanes; while an important part of a bicycle network, they are not the only type of bicycle facility which should be used. Absent from the current plan is any mention of sharrows, bicycle boulevards, or protected bike lanes. These facilties, along with on-street bike lanes, work together to form a complete bicycle network, and could be implemented at little or no extra cost, yet they have not yet been identified in a master plan and are not currently called for in the resurfacing project.
The Coral Gables City Commission has a responsibility to create a complete network of routes before it spends these funds on road resurfacing. As someone who travels to Coral Gables on a daily basis, several of my routes to/from downtown are indicated on the survey. It would be a crime to not leverage the proposed investment to get more miles of our street network. More ways of getting to/from downtown Coral Gables means more customers and more business without increasing traffic.
My initial review of the drawing shows that the following routes are important city-wide connections that should include a bicycle facilities:
Ponce de Leon (from Bird Road to Palmero, & from 8th Street to Fonseca) – Protected Bike Lane, Bike lane or sharrow
University (from LeJeune to Ponce) – Protected Bike Lane, Bike lane or sharrow
Salzedo (from University to Majorca) – Protected Bike Lane, Bike lane or sharrow
Cordova (from Coral Way to Anastasia) – Bike boulevard, Sharrow
Andalusia (from Lejeune to Galiano) – Protected Bike Lane, Bike lane or sharrow
Country Club Prado – Protected Bike Lane, Bike lane or sharrow
Columbus Boulevard (from 8th street to Valencia) – Bike boulevard, Sharrow
Sevilla (from Columbus Blvd to Douglas)
In addition, there are numerous residential streets that should be designated as Bike Boulevards or Sharrows to connect the many riders (myself included) who enjoy the lower speed and volume neighborhood streets as alternatives to higher volume and speed main roads. While these may not connect immediately, over time they will. The important thing is to not miss this opportunity. Coral Gables can be one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the US- aggressively implementing a new bicycle plan now would help make that happen.
Please email all the city commissioners – and the clerk – expressing your disapproval of this resolution moving forward without properly vetting for bicycle facilities. Their emails are below:
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