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Miami will be reportedly adding about three miles of protected bike and e-scooter lanes on its busy downtown corridors as part of a new program partially funded by fees on electric scooters. Said protected lanes will be installed along three miles of downtown streets, covering areas where there is already significant use of e-scooters and bikes by residents and visitors alike.
According to a Smart Growth America report, Florida is home to some of the country’s most dangerous cities for pedestrians, and critics have blasted Miami for not following through on a 2009 Bicycle Master Plan intended to “transform Miami into a bicycle friendly city.”
Approved by the Board of County Commissioners, the city will install concrete barriers along the new lanes and add pedestrian ramps to adjacent sidewalks. All pedestrian crossings in the affected area will also be upgraded to maximize visibility. The roughly $2 million upgrades,which are already underway, will be in-part funded by $1 million from the city of Miami’s micromobility fund. The remainder will be paid for with road impact fees.
Kevin Amézaga, executive director of the mobility group Miami Riders Alliance, reportedly called this move “extremely necessary” because Miami drivers aren’t the safest. “I’ve ridden a bike, I’ve ridden a scooter in downtown Miami and I feel unsafe on the roads,” he said. “We acknowledge that in downtown Miami, cars cannot be the way we grow, but we need to give people safe alternatives.”
The City’s ultimate goal is to build an extensive network of micromobility lanes that includes bollards, concrete barriers, and painted bike boxes that would connect large parts of downtown. Carlos Cruz-Casas, assistant director for mobility in the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works, reportedly said the “proactive” effort will help create “a more inclusive transportation network” and also further the county’s Vision Zero goals, which seek to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
“While we’re looking back to understand the causes of collisions and crashes, we are also creating the infrastructure to prevent them so that we don’t have to count statistics later on,” he reportedly said.
The idea for funding new protected bike lanes came last summer, when commissioners debated this idea because of the coronavirus pandemic. Micromobility supporters had originally argued the money should remain siloed for revamping the long-overdue bike master plan.
As e-scooters have become more popular and transportation tools in cities across the country, local transportation departments are rethinking their infrastructure plans to build dedicated lanes or paths that can accommodate them. For example, Santa Monica approved nearly 20 miles of new protected bike lanes. Originally passed in 2011, Santa Monica’s Bike Action Plan allowed the creation of more than 100 miles of bike lanes and bike-friendly corridors throughout the city.
Similarly to the situation in Miami, Santa Monica Spoke Director Cynthia Rose said in a statement to Streetsblog that the Ocean project began as a direct response to COVID-19: “The pandemic has so adversely impacted our community and presented us with so many incredible challenges in adjusting to a new normal. If we can find a silver lining — Ocean Avenue delivers. It improves safe mobility and equitable access to fresh air that are key to our health and community well-being, as well as outdoor space desperately needed to support our local businesses working to rebound.”