Bike Blog: Poor, Poor M-Path

A few weekend events are listed below (email the Bike Blog if you’d like your event posted).

But first, we wanted to address this comment, left on the New Times website regarding our recent feature on biking in Miami:

Ken Murray wrote:

“I have been commuting on my bike since 9/11 and granted maybe it's a locale issue, I ride from Pinecrest to Brickell and back at night, but frankly I found the article ridiculous. How do you write a giant article about bike-travel in Miami and completely disregard the fabulous MetroPath, which runs at least 8 miles along South Dixie and is pedestrian ONLY??? . . ."

The author has a point.

The ‘M Path,’- the paved bike and pedestrian route that runs beneath the Metrorail from Brickell to (almost) Dadeland South - is one of the longest and without doubt one of the most strategically positioned bike routes in the county.

But . . .

As anyone who rides it knows, the M Path is also poorly designed and poorly (as in not) maintained to the point of comedy.

There’s the confounding fact that rather than simply run straight beneath the Metrorail, the M Path winds and curves all over the place, making the ride feel less like a commute than one of those kiddy bike courses. Then there are the places where the M Path ends – just plain ceases to exist – leaving the rider to fend for himself across a street, through a parking lot, whatever.

“I don’t cross streets,” the M Path seems to say. “See you on the other side, maybe?”

But don’t just take our word for it – the county’s “Metrorail M Path Master Plan,” itself acknowledges many problems, including, “Missing trail segments,” “Substandard design,” “Lack of trail continuity and connectivity (told you so),” and “Poor visibility (Transit, perhaps worried about bothering the homeless who live on the M Path, has not seen fit to provide any lighting for the trail at night).”

Oh, also: “deteriorating pavement,” “encroachment of trail,” “limited signage,” and poor “trail user safety.”

Still, at least those problems have been recognized, if not fixed (although fellow bike-blogger John Hopkins at Spokes N' Folks launched a great campaign to fix one particular intersection.)

The new M Path master plan calls for changes that – if implemented – will help. At intersections, it calls for (get this) accessible curbs, stop signs, and colored pavement at crossings to warn cars. They plan to add the much-needed lighting as well as emergency call buttons that would make the M Path less spooky to ride at night.

You can read more about the plan here.

But before we break out the bubbly, remember: this is Miami. The master plan, which was completed two years ago, set 2008 – Metrorail’s twenty-fifth birthday – as a target for “short-term improvements with high visual impact.” So far, almost nothing’s been done.

We asked Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator Dave Henderson if there was any real timeline for the master plan.

“If there is,” he said, “I don’t know it.”

He referred us to Miami-Dade Transit, but we couldn’t get a comment in time for today. If they do write back, you’ll see it here, on the Bike Blog.

-- Isaiah Thompson

This weekend’s events:

Emerge Miami’s Critical Mass meets at 10:00 tomorrow, Saturday morning, for a ride through Overtown, Little Haiti, and to the new upper-eastside green market at the Legion Park.

Everglades EarthFirst, and Critical Mass (the Friday one) will be hosting an alleycat race tomorrow Saturday. Meet 9:00 P.M. at Government Center. $5