Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco doesn't remember exactly what the signs said, but he says the message was basically, "No bicycles, no fun, no breathing." When someone sent him a picture of the new signage, which was being installed at Lummus Park, he was furious. Hours later, the signs were taken down.
It's not that Greico thought bikes should be allowed in that section of the park — he just thought the signs were too "negative." Now, the commissioner is on a one-man mission to eliminate negativity from signs throughout the city. An audit is being conducted to determine the content and number of signs citywide, and Grieco plans to bring up the issue during the City Commission's meeting next Wednesday.
"There is a fine line between informing people of the rules and making it appear like a police state," he wrote in a memorandum included in the agenda.
As an example, he says that instead of saying, "No bicycles," the city could say, "Pedestrians only." Instead of saying, "The park closes at midnight," it could say, "Park hours are from sun-up to midnight." And instead of telling kids, "Don't run," it could say, "Please walk, it's safer."
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He's not sure how much it would cost to replace the negative signs. The audit will help determine the extent of the problem, he says.
"Anything that says, 'No' or 'Prohibited,' I think there are better ways to go about that," Grieco says. "I'm more interested in telling people what they can do and why as opposed to telling them what they can't do. It's OK to have rules, but I think there's a better way to communicate that."
He says the signs are low-hanging fruit compared to some of the big-ticket issues the city is dealing with, but matter nonetheless. He thinks people are less responsive to signs that come off as negative, and telling people what to do is not what the city should be about.
"I think positivity is an important part of living in paradise," he says.