The Miami cyclist community was out in full force Wednesday night at O Cinema in Wynwood for the SafeStreetsMiami Forum, which was organized by the Green Mobility Network in the wake of cyclist Aaron Cohen’s death while riding his bike on the Rickenbacker Causeway last month. Here are a few key takeaways from the event:
Extended bike lane on Rickenbacker: The crowd grew restless a few times during the meeting when listening to public officials talk about “studies”, “plans”, and long-term goals to improve bike safety in the city and the county. The audience wanted to hear about concrete actions from the officials present, an influential list which included Jeff Cohen from Miami-Public Works, city bicycle coordinator Collin Worth, city commissioner Marc Sarnoff, and county commissioner Xavier Suarez. “What are you going to do in 30 days?” someone shouted from the back.
The only specific, short-term proposal came from Cohen: The county is working to extend the right eastbound bike lane on the Rickenbacker Causeway so that it will start at Miami Avenue (right now it starts at Hobie Island) and will be dedicated to bikes 24/7, not just on weekdays, as it is now. The county is also working to widen the westbound bike lane. The only issue is that the causeway needs to be converted to Sun Pass from C-Pass, and Cohen said there was a hold up with the vendor. He wasn’t sure when the project would go forward but indicated it should be done by next year.
Miami Bike Share program: The City of Miami is preparing an ordinance authorizing a bike share program similar to Miami Beach’s DecoBike program, according to Worth. The program would have 500 bikes and 50 stations and extend from Midtown to Coconut Grove. Like DecoBike, it would be partially sustained by advertisements on the bikes and the kiosks, though that model hasn’t worked out as well as the City of Miami Beach had hoped.
Miami Bike Station: The city is also working on plans for a bike station in downtown where riders could park their bikes, take a shower, and leave their stuff in a locker before heading off to work. The idea is modeled off of the McDonald’s Cycle Center in Chicago, Worth said. He didn’t go into much detail or provide a timeline, so it might be a ways off.
GMN means business: In response to a question about what people could do to improve funding for bike and pedestrian transit, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said “more of what you’re doing now” and gave the Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease argument, though his phrasing was perhaps unfortunate: “Miami-Dade works on the grease system.”
He was right, though, in that the Green Mobility Network pulled off a well-attended and expertly moderated event with key government officials from the country and the city and an interesting mix of local experts and activists. The crowd was informed and the questions were smart. At the beginning of the event, one of the network’s organizers, Hank Sanchez-Resnik, said “We’re going to stay on this campaign until we get results.” The underlying message, both in his words and in the success of the event itself, was that the recent flurry of bike activism over the last few weeks is not just a “flash in the pan” after a tragic incident, but is instead part of new, more vigorous phase of civic involvement around transit issues in Miami.
This post was produced by Open Media Miami, an independent company that works in partnership with Beached Miami to cover neighborhood news along the Biscayne Corridor. To view more of their coverage, visit the Beached Miami Newsy section.