| Cycling |

Bike Lane Bureaucracy

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Last night, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) held a meeting – one of many held already, one of many more to come – to solicit input from an advisory panel made up of seven Miami Beach residents on the upcoming Alton Road repaving project, expected to go into 2009.

The Bike Blog got an email about the event – word on the circuit was the anti-bicyclistas were going show up and cause some trouble.

Who exactly the anti-bicyclistas are, we’re still not sure, because the meeting was attended by an overwhelmingly pro-bike crowd. One guy in the back even wore a green tee shirt with a giant bike logo – the very same kind I wore about three times a week until I lost it.

And here it is again, found and for sale. What a country.

Anyway, the gist of the meeting was this: there are two major proposed models for how Alton road might look – one with bike lanes, and one without. Yvette Holt, who works for Kimley-Horn, the engineering firm that’s been contracted to do the work, pulled out ye olde easel and giant paper and made what decision makers make in times of action: a list of pros and cons.

It turns out, though, that both columns wound up looking much the same: two of the seven people on FDOT’s advisory panel were against bikes; the other five were for them. The pros of having a bike path were: having a bike path. The cons were: having a bike path. The pros and cons of not having a bike path were similar: pro -- no bike path; con – no bike path. More bike path, less sidewalk; more sidewalk, less bike path, etc., etc., etc.

Winner of Most Chutzpa at an Obscure Semi-Public Meeting is bike activist and general rabble-raiser Gabrielle Redfern, who had the audacity to suggest that everyone could have their cake and eat it, too, if the team simply removed the full lane devoted to on-street parking. The idea caused a stir: “I live in Miami Beach,” asserted advisory board member Marilyn Freundlich. “I take the local bus, and I walk like a madwoman, and I ride my bicycle. And that’s what we should encourage our residents to do to make our city less congested.”

It turns out that if you want raise a rabble with FDOT, just talk about getting rid of parking.

“We cannot do that,” Adebayo T. Coker, FDOT District Project Development Engineer, stepped in quickly to say. “FDOT cannot remove on-street parking. The process for that is we have to be completely assured by the city that it will build a garage and that these parking places will be in place.”

Nice to know that FDOT, guardian of on-street parking, has its priorities in place.

After the meeting Coker seemed a little less touchy. He said he figured the odds of having a bike lane on Alton road were probably “about fifty-fifty right now.” It was, we couldn’t help but observe, a rather diplomatic answer.

Isaiah Thompson

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