Tuesday, June 02, 2009

South Miami hopefuls on bicycle issues

With interest growing in bicycling and walking in South Miami, Green Mobility Network put three questions to the three candidates for an open seat on the SoMi City Commission. Their complete answers are below. Green Mobility takes no position on the relative merits of any candidate.

If you were elected to the City Commission, what would you do to facilitate bicycle and pedestrian movement in South Miami?

Rene Guim: Fortunately, bicycle usage is on the rise and we need to find ways to foster and encourage the cycling activities. Whether the bicycle enthusiasts are geared towards transportation or exercise, they both need dedicated paths that are continuous and safe. I will work as a commissioner to ensure that :
  1. We have adequate and sufficient bike paths throughout the city.
  2. That there is ample safe bike parking in the business and downtown areas.
  3. I will work with surrounding cities and the county government to ensure that bike paths are continuous and seamless wherever possible.
Alec Rosen: I would promote bicycle paths within the city. Bicycle safety programs for citizens of all ages, bicycle campaign to get people to ride their bikes to the metro or the downtown area as well as having secure bike racks in strategic places within the city. If the city can’t afford the bike racks, I would seek private funds from local businesses to be bike-friendly with sponsored racks by their establishments.

Lew Sellars: I will always be interested in making the lives of South Miami residents better. It accomplishes two goals in my opinion. First, it is a healthy way to travel and secondly, it will cut down on green house gases emitted by our motor vehicles. To me that is a win-win. If I am not mistaken, there is a bicycle path improvements planned for 80th Street in the current five year Capital Improvements Plan. The project, though currently unfunded, is scheduled for the two fiscal year period of 2009 through 2011. Additionally, there is $1.5 million in the current budget year for a pedestrian friendly initiative at the US-1 intersections located in the City. This project is funded by the State. I am not sure whether Federal or State grant money would be available to help fund any other projects, but I am willing to work with you to find out.

Do you see the bicycle as primarily a toy, a recreational vehicle or a means of transportation?

Rene Guim: I see the bicycle as both a means of transportation and as a great source of recreation and exercise. It has become increasingly popular to travel around South Miami, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove via bicycle. I meet people everyday who tell me that it is their primary or at least frequent mode of transportation. Bicycle usage is an excellent method to improve our green initiatives and safeguard our environment and should be invested in and promoted.

Alec Rosen: All of the above. Depending on the age and use of the bicycle for the person. I’ve always owned bikes as a kid and now as an adult. I taught my children how to ride a bicycle and bike safety. I also taught my wife how to ride a bicycle when we lived in New York, so we could go riding in Central Park and Prospect Park.

For small kids and teens a bike means freedom, a set of wheels for the park or the neighborhood, to meet and gather with friends and have fun and experience freedom.

For adults a bike is a complex relationship between recreational, sports and transportation. I use my bicycle for recreation as well as transportation. About once a week or so, I use my bicycle to commute to work and to go to yoga classes on the weekends.

Lew Sellars: I consider all three.

When did you last ride a bicycle?

Rene Guim: I rode my bicycle this weekend while visiting residents in South Miami to solicit their support for my campaign. My 13 year old son and I often take our bikes to Matheson Hammock on weekends and ride to Cutler Bay along Old Cutler Road. Beautiful scenery and an excellent opportunity to bond with my son, not to mention the health benefits.

Alec Rosen: I ride at least once per week. I own an Electra Amsterdam Classic, in forest green, great for city riding and commuting the 1.5 miles from my home to my office or to yoga class. I also ride with my family throughout South Miami and area parks. I love my bike's classic look, fenders, rack and the little bell!

Lew Sellars: It probably has been about four years. I have a bike, but it always seems to have a flat tire or being used by my son. My children ride their bikes all the time. My son, Trey rides his bike throughout the City. It is his primary form of transportation. And yes, I am concerned because he crosses US-1 almost daily.

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