By now, most of you have seen a proposed Miami-Dade County commission resolution, which is – in its current form and at best – highly problematic (for a review of the proposal, see here, here and here). The resolution would allow a reversal from the complete streets paradigm that requires FDOT to include bike facilities into their projects. It does not stop there, but even mandates a legislative reform on the state level, again potentially rolling back what little advance has been made in Florida (as a reminder, the state has the dubious distinction of including the four most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians and cyclists).
We wanted to get to the bottom of this and decided to call Commissioner Sosa’s office trying to figure out what was the impetus for this move. We received a call back from the legislative assistant Vivian Castro. The good news first: the Commissioner is not anti-cyclist.
So far, so good. The concern appears to come down to losing parking for businesses on a small stretch of the 57th Road project that FDOT is implementing. On this “historic road”, which has “homes on the east side and commercial development on the west side” a bike lane would apparently upset the parking situation. Thus, it appears that businesses have voiced their opposition, claiming that this would be detrimental to their existence.
The move towards the resolution was then apparently founded on the belief that with said resolution FDOT could be motivated to become less rigid and look for alternative pathways for cyclists (there is an obvious flaw in that logic in that the roads surrounding 57th Avenue are not state roads and FDOT has no responsibility or even competence to make any such project happen). This is somewhat bad news in that in order to address a rather minor problem the commissioner is sponsoring legislation that could negate years of work which has at least advanced the idea that cycling should be conducted in a safe manner.
It appears at this point that the commissioner has given in to pressure from her constituents (not unheard of in politics). When pressed why this was put on the agenda without public input, the explanation was that this was simply an “urging”. At the very least this is short-sighted – while the concerns of businesses are relevant, no one appears to have thought through the consequences of this proposal. Asked whether there has been any attempt to get informed about what cyclists may think about this proposal, we were told that they were surprised by the reactions in the cycling community. We suggested that it would be a good idea to engage in meaningful conversation before undertaking a project with potentially disastrous consequences.
We are told that the “commissioner is open to changes and amendments”. One can only hope that the commissioner is serious about this. The project should be shelved for good. Given that the commission meeting has been postponed to September 6, 2012 there is still time to have an impact. In order to have those voices heard, head on over to our friends at Green Mobility Network and follow their simple steps to contact the commission members and other county officials. As Rydel remarked, it is necessary to take 2-3 minutes to take action rather than complain after the fact. So – do it now.
To make things even easier, use the template from GMN pasted below.
BEGIN COPY-AND-PASTE–AND ADD YOUR NAME AT THE END OF THE MESSAGE
Re:Sept. 6, 2012, Agenda Item #121569–Bad for Bicycling–Please Pull From Agenda
To the Board of County Commissioners:
Agenda Item #121569 is bad for bicycling in Miami-Dade County and potentially the entire state of Florida. It would turn back the clock on significant progress in winning accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians in urban road projects. It was placed on your agenda without public input. I urge you to pull it from the agenda and make time for public discussion of this important matter.
SEND TO THE INDIVIDUAL COMMISSIONERS–JUST COPY AND PASTE THE FOLLOWING E-MAIL ADDRESSES
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, District7@miamidade.gov, District8@miamidade.gov, DennisMoss@miamidade.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, District12@miamidade.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org