A New Day For Bikes In Miami?

Last week a group of bicycling advocates, including members of the Green Mobility Network, Emerge Miami, and others, met with Miami Mayor Manny Diaz to lobby for the city to take a stronger stand on biking.

Although there had been several mass emails about the meeting before it took place, the Bike Blog found some of the attendees to be surprisingly excited -- and surprisingly tight-lipped about it afterwards.

John Hopkins, one of the founders of the Green Mobility Network - a group dedicated to improving conditions for bikers and pedestrians - would say little more than that "it went very well - [the mayor] is really very supportive of what we want to do; he wants Miami to become a bicycle-friendly city, but I think he recognizes that it's not going to happen overnight."

"Very soon," Hopkins added. "He's going to make a general statement, but that general statement will not have all the details. . . it's exciting - it's very exciting."

Most of the people the Bike Blog talked with explained their reluctance to talk by saying that they didn't want to spoil a long-sought-after objective: "We just don't want to jinx it," said one person who had attended the meeting. "Just wait until next Thursday."

Well, next Thursday is today, and it's time for the scoop. Here it is:

At this morning's City Commission meeting, Mayor Diaz is expected (and, indeed, it's on the agenda) to proclaim March to be Miami Bicycle Month.

Yes, it was already Florida Bicycle Month, but now it will also be Miami Bicycle Month.

More than that, he's expected to announce the formation of a Bicycle Advisory Committee for the city, that would advise the mayor and the commission on biking.

"The first meeting of the committee was today," confirmed bike advocate Mike Lydon yesterday evening, "and that's huge." Lydon's recent op-ed in the Miami Herald helped generate new buzz about getting the city to take a more systemic approach to biking - namely, to create a bicycle master plan.

Neither Lydon nor anyone else expects Diaz' announcement to be heavy on specifics, but what it lacks in nitty gritty it may make up for in symbolic star-power: apparently, Diaz plans to make the announcement alongside former Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa (please excuse the absence of an , who has presided over one of the most forward-thinking bicycle initiatives of any city anywhere in the world. Under Peñalosa, Bogota installed over three hundred miles of "ciclo-rutas" -bike paths - throughout the city. Every Sunday and holiday is "Ciclovia" - an event in which the city center is blocked off from all automotive traffic and bicyclists, roller-bladers, and walkers are encouraged to come out and enjoy life without cars for a few hours.

Will Diaz call for a Miami Ciclovia? Let's hope so!

Today's meeting begins at 9:00 A.M. If you can't get out of work but are just dying to watch it, you can tune in via webcast.

If you do watch or you don't, leave a comment and tell us what you think.

-- Isaiah Thompson

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