Miami Beach Threatens to Confiscate Bikes Locked to Street Signs, Twitter Goes Berserk

Miami Beach has spent much of February touting its plans to become a more bike-friendly city and splashing bright green paint on one prominent bike lane. So it was curious that today the city's official Twitter account promised aggressive action against cyclists who dare to lock up to a street sign.

In a series of tweets Thursday, the city of Miami Beach threatened to tag and seize bikes that are “illegally parked,” such as on stop signs or street poles. “Move it or lose it,” the tweet reads.

The threat sparked a heated discussion on Twitter, with dozens of residents demanding that the city provide more options for bicycle parking. Sure, locking bikes to signs is technically illegal — but so is jaywalking, rolling through stop signs, and a hundred other common behaviors in South Beach.  

Politico writers Marc Caputo and Mike Grunwald both jumped into the fray, pointing out how hard it already is to cycle in South Beach and how many more parking options there are than safe biking routes.

The city wouldn't back down, though. Among the city's more confusing responses: that cyclists in South Beach should park their bikes on Lincoln Road — where biking has been banned for several years.
Ironically, the aggressive Twitter conversation followed recent moves by the city to market itself as Miami-Dade’s friendliest for pedestrians and cyclists. Just last week, the city kicked off a project to upgrade existing bike infrastructure by painting bike lanes across South Beach green. The city is currently painting the green lanes on 16th Street from Washington Avenue to Alton Road, which it expects to finish in the next two weeks.

“We hope to be the pioneer in the county for projects for pedestrians and bicycles,” says Xavier Falconi, Miami Beach Transportation Planner. According to Falconi, it's all part of a "prioritization strategy," to put pedestrians as priority number one, bikes and buses two and cars three. 

Over the coming months, similar green lanes will appear across South Beach, Falconi says, on Alton Road, from South Pointe Drive to 5th Street, including South Pointe Drive from Alton Road to Ocean Drive; Prairie Avenue from 28th Street to 44th Street; Royal Palm Avenue from 42nd Street to 47th Street; and 47th Street from Pine Tree Drive to Alton Road.

Next month, the Miami Beach City Commission is expected to adopt a Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan & Street Design Guide, which makes recommendations for a range of bicycle improvement projects, including greenways, protected bike lanes and separated paths. According to Falconi, the protected lanes are next on the list.

“It’s taken a while for us to get here,” Falconi says, “but there is new momentum for bicycle safety in Miami Beach.” 

Update 5:30 pm: The city has sent New Times a statement to "clarify" their Tweets, explaining that only bikes along Lincoln Road received citations: 

We wanted to clarify that we are only tagging bikes with a warning stating that their bike is illegally parked on either Lincoln Road or Ocean Drive.

This is not happening citywide. This is part of a city ordinance section 70-69b of the Miami Beach city code.

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Jessica Weiss

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