Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Encouraging plans for the M-Path

Plans to upgrade the M-Path, the popular bike and pedestrian route in the shadow of the Metrorail, include improved road crossings at busy intersections such as U.S. 1 and Bird Road, and installing lights on lonely parts of the path where some users hesitate to ride or run.

A handful of bicyclists and a cluster of public officials attended the show- and-tell session for the M-Path Master Plan last night at the South Miami Library. Two men from the planning firm Kimley-Horn showed us plans drawn onto large aerial maps of the entire route, from SW 67th Avenue to Metrorail's Brickell station -- and the planned extension to the Miami River. By the time the library staff kicked us all out, the plans were liberally decorated with sticky notes indicating tweaks and must-have comments from the riders.

Several aspects of the plan seemed important to me:
  • The zig-zag path between Metrorail columns would be straightened out; the current curves are too tight for safe riding at 20 mph. (I enjoy the zig-zags, but the planners have a good point about safety: The sight lines in the present curves don't give you much time to adjust for oncoming walkers or riders.)
  • Crossing signals would be installed where they are lacking.
  • Intersections would be reengineered in several cases -- Douglas Road, Bird Road, Red Road and Sunset Drive notable among them -- to reduce the hazard from motor vehicles turning off or onto South Dixie Highway (U.S. 1).
  • Route signs would be added to help users find their way.
  • Warning signs would alert motorists that the path is right ahead or just around the corner.
  • Bollards at path entrances would keep motor vehicles out.
In the large photo above, the route past the University of Miami gets a close look by South Miami City Commissioner Jay Beckman, South Miami bike activist John Edward Smith, Pinecrest bike commuter Ken Murray, Patricia Pardiñas of the Coral Gables Rotary Club and Eric Tullberg of Palmetto Bay, a member of the county's Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee. In the detail, right, planners are shown why moving path crossings closer to Dixie Highway and away from Ponce de Leon Boulevard would be a problem for cyclists. (Click on photo for a closer view, including a warning sign to be installed on Dixie.)

Contrary to what I indicated earlier, this project will not include closing the Dadeland Gap, which is my own priority for path improvement in Kendall. That is a separate project and probably can be finished next year -- sooner than the work reviewed last night, said the M-Path project manager, David Henderson, who also is the bicycle-pedestrian coordinator with the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Miami Urbanized Area (that means Miami-Dade County, folks).


Hank said...

Excellent report on the M Path meeting. I really like the clickable photo that enlarges so well. Cool!

Ken Murray said...

I'm glad I went. It was remarkable how theoretical the discussion was, and how devoid of commuter input. It astounds me that the path runs into the business district and from the burbs and yet virtually NO commuters use it!

So, to that end, I was useful I suppose. Although I wonder at the relevance of my points; I mean, if commuters don't use it then what good are commuter points?

I hear people say that the path is rife with fumes, and not shaded enough, and too close to congested roadways, hello! It runs right up the major commuter artery in the south of the city! It will never be tranquil and peaceful. It's NOT the Old Cutler path for cryin out loud (which is terrible as a commuter path). But it almost couldn't be more useful as a commuter path.

I am told that 16,000 new people will reside in Downtown Dadeland...

I was in NY last week. Many avenues have one lane that is a bikepath. It's congested, fumed, not shaded, and bordered by parked cars. It's also PACKED with bicyclists -- not meandering with their kids (those would be in Central Park) but going somewhere on their bikes, travelling. This is the M-Path's future, its primary purpose, if you ask me. Bicycle travel.

Patricia Pardiñas said...

That was a great and enjoyable meeting ... a great job in community communications.