At the City of Miami Beach’s Neighborhoods and Community Affairs Committee meeting today, City staff attorneys were directed to challenge the Florida State Statutes that require the inclusion of bicycle facilities on state roads, and protested the inclusion of bike lanes on the Alton Road reconstruction project on the same safety grounds that require the facility contained in the Statute.
You might remember that Transit Miami has been pushing the department to consider alternatives to a traditional bike lane since the first time FDOT ventured on the island back in June of 2008 . We later reported on the progress of the project here and here, all the while hoping that FDOT would try using more that one tool in their bicycle planning toolbox. Finally, after years of lobbying and advocacy, FDOT presented several alternative options for a bicycle facility on Alton Road at the quarterly progress report on the $40 million dollar project.
Too bad Miami Beach City Commissioner’s told FDOT to take their bike lanes and put them, well, somewhere else.
Not only that, Commissioner Gongora convinced his fellow policymakers of the idea to attack the law requiring FDOT to consider other users for the roads they build and maintain. The Commission added to the Legislative Agenda of their paid Tallahassee lobbyist to get the provision of the Florida Statutes 335.065 removed or changed by giving the municipalities the ability to opt out of bicycle facilities required by the DOT. (Mind you we are talking about Miami Beach - arguably some of the best urbanism in the entire State of Florida, and the one place most poised to take advantage of a well designed bicycle network.)
So today FDOT comes back. The Mayor had said that the bike lanes should not be next to the flow of traffic but between the curb and the parked cars - a parking protected cycle track.
FDOT showed that.
That required a three-foot buffer between the four-foot bike lane and the 8-foot parking lane, reducing the sidewalk to six feet.
Then Commissioner Ed Tobin, who used his power while he sat on the MPO, asked for a physically separate cycle track.
FDOT showed that.
That resulted in an Alton Road with 10-foot sidewalks and a four-foot bike lane separated with a four-foot jersey wall from the traffic, but no parking lane.
FDOT then showed an option with a 16-foot sidewalk and four-foot bike lanes, and again with no parking.
For it’s part the City’s Public Works Department showed their alternative which was to make West Avenue an alternative to having a bike lane on Alton Road. FDOT responded by requiring that all the numbered east-west streets between Fifth and Michigan Avenue be retrofitted with bike lanes, which would require millions of dollars the City would have to borrow and permanent removal of 56 parking spaces.
The kicker is that work would have to be done before FDOT gets started on Alton Road.
So we’re back to Alton Road.
You have the heap on the credit to FDOT. We are used to giving them hell here on Transit Miami, but we have to give credit where credit is due. They have done a lot of work and shown they can see a different type of road in the future for many of our city’s streets. They should make certain that all of their projects get such attention to detail in nurturing the mix of users. FDOT is realizing it’s responsibility to make getting from one place to another as enjoyable and safe as possible for everyone.
Not just those in cars.
And that’s what we need. We need to stop building the same old roads that provide for only one type of mobility. Alton Road needs more people walking, taking transit, and riding a bike- not driving in their cars.
Commissioners Jerry Libbin, Michael Gongora and Jonah Wolfson disagree and voted to challenge whatever design FDOT plans to build on Alton Road that includes a bike facility – on safety grounds.
It was one of the most twisted uses of the law I have ever seen. 40 years of research and data supporting the safety and efficacy of bike lanes by the Federal Highway Administration and the current work of Dr. Jennifer Dill dismissed by two lawyers and a politician.
The City is doing its best NOT to have FDOT build a complete street. I pray every night the City would use half the effort it puts into fighting bike facilities, into building them along with better sidewalks and crosswalks.
Where were these same politicians when FDOT used the Baylink infrastructure promised to us when they rebuilt the Macarthur for the port tunnel?
And with everything in South Beach going down the tubes, except the water, faster than you can say Atlantic City, the only hope we have for a stable economic future and decent quality of life is to allow for more mobility on this tiny island through as many modalities we can offer, not just expecting everyone to get around Miami Beach in a car.
We need this Alton Road reconstruction project – but we also need better mobility on Miami Beach. I am dismayed at the lack of vision in this community. Everyone on a bike or on foot, on a board or on skates or in a stroller or wheelchair or scooter is a person not in their car.
What a wonderful place this could be.
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