Last Saturday, Miami bicyclists riding with Emerge Miami’s Critical Mass were afforded a rare opportunity to engage their elected officials when the ride came upon Commissioners Joe Sanchez, Marc Sarnoff, and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, schmoozing with locals at the recently-established Legion Park Green Market.
The politicians greeted the over fifty-strong swarm of bicyclists amiably enough, and a few riders tried to press them on their commitment to bicycling in Miami. One rider (he works for the city and asked not to be named) asked if they would consider adopting a comprehensive and long-term Bicycle Master Plan for the city (Miami Beach has adopted one and is actually starting to implement it), reminding Mayor Diaz that such a move would be a nice fit with his vision for a “greener” city. Neither the mayor nor the commissioners, he said, seemed very interested.
“Sarnoff was saying that part of Miami 21 involves showers for all large-scale office buildings,” the rider recalls. “I said yeah, that’s good, but bike lanes are more important.”
Of the three elected officials, only Commissioner Joe Sanchez effused what seemed – even for a politician – like genuine enthusiasm for the group.
“When are you guys riding again?” he cried happily. “You gotta call me up, I’ll come with you. Hey, you know what? You know what we should do? We should do a ride from Kennedy Park, all the way through the grove, to Key Biscayne – now that would be a ride, huh?”
In a torrent of goodwill, the Commissioner then grabbed hold of this blogger’s shoulders as bicyclist Derek Cole snapped the shot above.
The Bike Blog took advantage of all that warmth to press Commissioner Sanchez on bike lanes to accommodate construction and service workers who ride bikes to work from Little Havana. He responded vaguely (“You gotta ask FDOT [Florida Department of Transportation] about that,” he said), but did make an extremely general promise to support bicycles in Miami.
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“I give you my word, and I never break my word,” he said. “Can you count?” he added, thrusting his hand out as if he were just giving it away. “Then you can count on me.”
With several bike battles coming up in Miami- most notably NE 2nd avenue, where bike lanes are being opposed by powerful developer Dacra (more on that soon) – we’ll see whether Miami’s leaders are going to get behind bikes or not.