Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A token for Miami's riders

Buried in tiny type deep inside the planners' interim report for the Miami 21 project are a few lines headed Bike/Transit Integration. They were the only sign I found that the city's consultants gave any thought to encouraging Miamians to use bicycles for getting around their town or even their neighborhoods. Under the category Strategies for Future Implementation, the planners wrote:
    Implement bike-transit strategies such as:
  • provision of bicycle storage at work places that encourage bicycle use,
  • amenities such as showers at workplaces that encourage bicycle use,
  • allow bicycles on transit trains and provide racks on buses, and
  • at urban scale, the city develops its own bicycle facilities plan.
Drawings in the document propose new streetscapes, but no bicycle lanes are visible on them. Several of the drawings envision actually increasing on-street parking by use of alley easements to open up parking in the rear of existing or future buildings.

I like the idea of alley easements, because they would reduce the number of mid-block driveways. That should improve safety as well as increase curbside footage. But if Miami really aims to move away from oil-hungry transportation, which I certainly hope for, then it needs to try harder than this document calls for. Instead of deferring to some uncertain time the drafting of a "bicycle facilities plan," the planners ought to crank these points into their proposal right now:
  • While creating alleys, designate every fourth or fifth block as a bicycle boulevard -- with marked bike lanes instead of on-street parking.
  • Provide bicycle storage at city offices and other public workplaces, and racks where visitors to those buildings can safely lock their bikes.
  • Devise incentives for employers who install showers and lockers for their bicycle-riding employees. Make them large enough that employers will encourage bike commuting. Wherever public employees can reasonably commute by bike, install similar facilities.
The 102-page report, a November 30th presentation to the Planning Advisory Board, is worth a look. Here's where to find it, along with a chance to add your comments.

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