What makes a community ‘bicycle-friendly’? Is it bike lanes? Roads that people share equitably, whether they are driving a car or a bicycle? Is it bike racks and showers, reasonable speed limits, educated road users, smart land-use? I think it’s all of the above – and sometimes, the hardest one to explain is land-use.
Smart land-use provides for neighborhoods where people can live, work, shop, play – do what they do and get around walking and/or bicycling. One of my favorite places to ride my bicycle is downtown West Palm Beach. I can get there on tri-rail and then ride my bicycle wherever I need to go. I cross a major road at a lighted intersection and then I ride in the road and let faster moving vehicles pass me when necessary. In front of every office, shop, bar, museum – there always seems to be a place to safely and securely lock up my ride. When I ride around Ft. Lauderdale, where there is more traffic and cars move faster, I am grateful for the bike lanes on Broward Boulevard (although they should be wider and better marked). When I go to deposit your donations to the South Florida Bike Coalition at our bank in Downtown Miami, I ride along the wide curb lanes of Biscayne Boulevard and take the lane once those lanes narrow so that I don’t get cut off. Motorists are accustomed to seeing lots of people on bicycles in places like this and they give me the legally required 3′ when they pass me. Downtown Miami, with its views of Bayfront, diversity of shops and great, local places to eat, is a pleasant place to ride – and one that is getting better with some proactive work of their DDA. Limited (car) parking, low traffic speeds, high pedestrian traffic from mixed use developments open 24/7 (what we call ‘eyes on the street’), and multiple destinations grouped together in one neighborhood make Downtown Miami better and better for bicyclists.
As a bicyclist, I compare downtowns and see what makes them more comfortable for a trip by bicycle. Time and again, I find that it is how the area is laid out – what kind of buildings, shops, residential areas, parking and other types of ‘land-use’ – that makes it desirable. The more I bicycle, the more I find myself spending my limited income and free time in places that make me feel safe and comfortable. As ED of the SFBC, I hear from cyclists across the region who love where they live but feel they have to drive sometimes just to cross the street. Think about where you spend your money and time – what could make it more appealing as the destination of a bike ride?
Today, I bring this up because one of the most nationally-recognized urban plans in our country, Miami 21, may be postponed for another year this Thursday. The City of Miami Commission will be asked to delay the implementation of this bike-friendly code until January 2011.
As a property owner, I support Miami 21 because I believe it will make my property more valuable. As a woman, I support Miami 21 because I believe it promotes development that is safer for pedestrians. As a member of the City of Miami Bicycle Action Committee, I know that Miami 21 and the City’s Bicycle Master Plan are designed to complement each other. We support Miami 21 because it strengthens the mandate of the BMP. As ED of SFBC, I defend the rights of bicyclists to expect that their policymakers will support a more sustainable, more bicycle-friendly City of Miami.
- Miami 21 requires bicycle parking commensurate with car parking in new development and encourages additional measures through its LEED certification requirements.
- Miami 21 encourages transit-oriented development and understands bicyclists’ transportation needs.
- Miami 21 promotes the character of the neighborhoods we like to ride in while making us more visible at intersections.
Miami 21‘s introduction states “The City should include a framework of transit, pedestrian, and bicycle systems that provide alternatives to automobile use.”- and we agree! Let’s not put Miami21 and our sustainable future off another day. Learn more about Miami21 and what you can do to exercise your right to expect a more bicycle-friendly Miami at http://www.transitmiami.com.