The City of Miami will be hosting an Open House for the community to give some feedback on two proposed Bicycle Boulevards in the NW area of the city. Bicycle boulevards are a special type of shared road with traffic-calming features that make it ideal for bicycle transit; this video from Streetfilms.org showcasing a bike boulevard in Portland, OR explains the concept perfectly.
As awesome as this would be for Miami, I live in Miami Beach, so immediately I started thinking about possible candidates for transformation into bicycle boulevards. The city’s long-and-narrow shape means there’s a limited number of main thoroughfares in any direction, so the idea is to redirect traffic without creating worse conditions in the rerouted area. Immediately I thought of possibly the best candidates, Pinetree Dr and Lagorce Dr, between 63 St and 51 St.
Both of these streets are alternate routes to Collins Ave and Alton Rd, Pinetree heading North and Lagorce heading South. Each of them has two lanes with a few medians along the way, though no speedbumps or anything similar. People mostly use these streets to avoid the more trafficked Collins, turning these residential arteries into mini-expressways.
Pinetree and Lagorce have a few elements in place that make them ideal as a bicycle boulevard test subject:
- Neither is a main thoroughfare – People may use them as such, but with Collins to the West and Alton to the North, both these streets are really redundant in channeling North-South traffic in this area.
- One-way dual lanes – Each streets has two lanes heading in only one direction, making it ideal to have one lane devoted specifically to bikes while the other handles the reduced car traffic of this residential area.
- Manageable length – The area proposed is only 1.2 miles long, making it a manageable distance for implementation and study of the concept in the Beach.
- Connection to existing bike lane network – This area of Middle Beach has an existing number of bike lanes starting on Pinetree Dr and 47 St. The Pinetree/Lagorce bike boulevards would extend this network into North Beach (I’d also propose a bike lane on Pinetree Dr from 51 St to 47 St, but I’ll take it easy for now).
Basically, restrict car access to Pinetree and Lagorce at 63 St: allow only northbound traffic on Alton to turn right into Lagorce, while allowing bikes access via small openings in the concrete median. Put a number of speedbumps along the length of Pinetree and Lagorce to slow down whatever traffic does flow in. Make the right lane for bicycles only and leave the left one as a shared lane (I guess in theory both lanes could be shared space, but I prefer having one lane specifically for bikes to make sure that cars don’t hog the entire street as it happens now). In general, that’s it; I realize I am not an Urban Planner and that there may be elements I am missing, but this is the gist of it. As I mentioned above, I’d also propose a bike lane at the start of the Pinetree/Lagorce split at 51 St, connecting the boulevard to the bike lane on 47 St. At the very least, I’d like to see a Share the Road sign at this point to remind drivers that bikers are transiting the area.
I realize I’m daydreaming here, as the City of Miami Beach has no bicycle master plan in their building and planning code (that I know of), but it would be a great way to start taking steps forward in making more than South Beach a bike-friendly place. With the upcoming launch of the bike share program, we’re going to see a few thousand bikes all around Miami Beach and that will force the city to address bicycling conditions. It would be nice if it wasn’t as a reaction to some event.
Learn from your neighbor city across the bay, from what Mayor Manny Diaz has been doing for the past year, and bring those ideas to Miami Beach.