Dacra A Wet Blanket on Bike Lanes?

Last week, the Bike Blog chatted with Kevin Brown, a planner for the City of Miami assigned to the upcoming project on Northeast 2nd Avenue – a plan which includes bike lanes. The news was surprisingly good . . .

“It’s a done deal,” Brown affirmed. The lanes will be four feet wide, on either side of the street, and will continue – unbroken – along Northeast 2nd Ave from about Northwest 20th Street all the way to Northwest 86th street.

This is a good thing: Northeast 2nd Ave is a natural conduit for bikes – it’s nice and straight; wide enough for bikes and narrow enough to force a slower traffic speed than Biscayne; and it keeps bikers urban and urbane alike close to the action but away from the worst traffic. The project also includes the installation of sidewalks along the shamefully-neglected corridor through Little Haiti.

What’s most exciting about the bike lanes is that they represent one of the first times that things more or less worked the way they’re supposed to. Bicycles are supposed to be taken into consideration in every project undertaken in Miami-Dade. But bike accommodations usually get scrapped – sometimes by reluctant engineers, sometimes by NIMBY neighbors.

This time, though, things came together. Northeast 2nd had been identified in the county’s bicycle master plan as a top-priority place for bike lanes. Planners accordingly came up with options that included bikes and presented them to the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). The latter body approved the lanes, and now it looks like Miami will get them.

But despite Brown’s insistence that the lanes are “a done deal,” there is still a period of public input, and there has been opposition: a few days ago, the Bike Blog mentioned that developer Dacra had opposed the lanes – a comment which surprised a few readers.

Dacra President Craig Robbins didn’t return the Bike Blog’s attempts to reach him in time for this post (it’s his birthday, apparently, so we won’t hold it against him). But last October, members of the BPAC were told at a presentation on the project that while the city was sticking to its plan for bike lanes, Dacra had objected “strongly” to the lanes passing through the four or five blocks that it owns.

Instead, Dacra wants to both widen the sidewalks and keep on-street parking, despite the fact that two garages are being built nearby. Their idea for the bike lanes: re-route them around their property on Federal Highway.

And that's too bad. Not even the weakest-willed biker will be willing to stop halfway down the roadway, jog east for three blocks, continue along another road, and then jog back west.

If Dacra is the globally-minded, community-based developer it claims to be, it should back off the bike lanes. Hopefully, it already has.

-- Isaiah Thompson

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