Miami resident Richard Strell recently told the Bike Blog about a little amendment to the Miami 21 plan that troubled him.
Here it is, as faithfully copied and pasted from a list of Miami 21 amendments posted on April 19:
Article 3 – Section 3.7.1.d:
Bicycle use of thoroughfares should be as follows: Bicycles and vehicles may share use of lanes on thoroughfares with design speeds of 35 mph or less and should not share use of lanes on thoroughfares with design speeds of more than 35 mph. Thoroughfares may include dedicated bicycle lanes.
As far as Strell could make out, the amendment seemed to be banning bicycles from any road with a speed limit over 35. To find out what the hell the cryptic paragraph meant, we made some calls.
Luciana Gonzales from the City of Miami Planning Department, explained that the paragraph is a clarification of this paragraph, to be found in Article 3 of the Miami 21 Draft in Progress:
Article 3 – Section 3.7.1.d
Bicycle use of thoroughfares should be as follows: Bicycles and vehicles should share use of lanes on Thoroughfares with design speed of 35 mph or less. Medium speed Thoroughfares may include dedicated bicycle lanes. Greenways, waterfront walks and other Civic Spaces should include bicycle lanes.
As far as I could tell, the new amendment is worse – at least this older one says the thoroughfares “may” include dedicated bike lanes; the new one just says bicycles “should not share use of lanes” on faster streets.
“No, it’s good for bicycles,” Gonzales insisted – she interprets the “should not share” to be a polite reminder that streets “may” avoid the problem of shared lanes by including a bike lane. Oy vey.
I called up Hank Resnik, a local bike activist whose current mission is to get bikes into the Miami 21 plan wherever possible. “I’m a bicycle activist – wherever I go, wherever I’m living, I try to get better bicycling,” said Resnik as he pulled up the Miami 21 site on his computer. “When I came to Miami, initially I thought, wow - this place is so bad for biking that I may have to just stop riding. But then I said, no, I’m not going to do that. There are very positive things about Miami, and I said I’m going to start working on making this place more bicycle-friendly even though it’s a huge undertaking.”
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The phone went quiet as Resnik scanned the amendment in question. “I think that what that means is that . . . ” he began doubtfully, stopping to read it again before he continued, “that they think that only roads 35 or above are the ones should have bike facilities. . .”
I asked Resnik if the amendment was good or bad for bikes. “It’s not better,” he answered slowly, “it’s a little more convoluted –that’s what it is.”
According to Resnik, the amendment is supposed to be a kind of concession to bikes, not an extra prohibition; he says it leaves it open for roads with speed limits above 35 to include separate bike lanes. It isn’t, he admitted, much. “But I’m not complaining, because what they did adopt is better than what they had before.
“I and the people I’m working with are incredibly optimistic about where this may be headed,” he says cheerfully. “We’re making some significant progress and that’s what’s important. I’m going on the assumption that we’re not looking at the final thing now, and we still have several months before were looking at the final thing.” -- Isaiah Thompson