Sunday, August 02, 2009

Miami 21 going before City Commission

One reason American urbanites have trouble making the bicycle a part of their daily life is that for three-quarters of a century our cities have been shaped by rules that encouraged sprawl and an over-reliance on personal motor cars. For the past few years, planners in Miami have been working out a new set of regulations meant to bring about smarter land use and more livable cities. The proposed new rules are called Miami 21, and if they're adopted they'll establish walkability and provisions for bicycling on a par with motor traffic.

This new set of zoning regulations goes before the Miami City Commission at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6. This will be the first reading for the ordinance -- and perhaps the last good chance to express your views in public before the commission votes on it.

Here's the Commission agenda.
And in case you can't attend on Thursday, here's where to contact Commission members.

1 comment:

Richard Strell said...

I am not sure why bike folks have bought the theory of Miami 21, without spending the time to dissect the details of that plan. IF they did the latter, they couldn't possibly want Miami 21.
Throughout the plan, DPZ states that they are making sidewalks wider (with grass areas between them and the curb, and landscaped medians, all when possible. Yet the plan makes clear these features take precedence over bike lanes. Look it up. The room for these features comes from street widths -- where in Miami 21, they will be often made narrower to meet only the bare government-required minimums.

This probably explains why the city agreed to the few bike lanes, city wide, they gave you guys within the past few years. Those are token in number, and the Planning Department knew that, once Miami 21 passes, the narrower streets will make more bike lanes less likely. They knew you are organized and this issue could embarrass them, for a plan they claim is “green-friendly.” Yet, involved cyclists I’ve seen quoted online and in the paper, all seem to think the plan is good. The abstract urban theory is, but they could not have dissected this plan, because it is not.

Case in point: FDOT is redoing Biscayne, from 15th to 35th Streets and they just announced their plans and made clear that they worked very closely with the city of Miami, and incorporated Miami 21 goals. The city therefore signed off on their plan. The result: the end lanes in both directions will be two feet narrower than they are currently. Two feet less room in each direction on that main thoroughfare! Hopefully, you all want to walk, because the sidewalks will be two feet wider, “pedestrian-friendly,” but much less bike-friendly than the dangerous “riding on the edge” squeezed-in during rush hour-experience you get now.

Plans for the Boulevard are not an isolated example. Read the guidelines for streets, sidewalks, medians, etc., in the final draft of Miami 21. Spend the hundreds of hours it takes to understand what was to be a “much more simple code” (but isn’t), and you’ll wonder why you bought the KoolAid.

I hope, when squeezed into a city with many more 11' wide, min required lanes, you won't mind that you were all silent, this Thursday, at the Commission meeting, when there was a vote on Miami 21.

Best of luck,
Richard Strell