BICYCLE LANES AND BIKING SAFETY IN MIAMI-DADE
Bicycle lanes are not always welcomed with open arms in Miami-Dade County communities; and Coral Gables is just one of them. Since 2004, the city commission has rejected every proposal to build bike lanes; mainly from complaints on behalf of the disapproving neighbors and home owners. In 2014, a plan was presented to build 27 miles of new bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks, but that never developed. In 2018, residents voiced their opposition at a commission meeting to add bicycle lanes along Riviera Drive. According to Robert Ruano, the chair of the Bike Walk Coral Gables nonprofit; “There’s very little really safe bike infrastructure in the city right now to actually increase people using the road for biking safely.” For 2020, a new proposal aims to create bike lanes & broaden sidewalks along Alhambra Circle from Coral Way to the University of Miami. This 2.3-mile stretch could result in the loss of trees, according to concerned residents; thus, the plan for more bike lanes may be scrapped once again. However, Silvia Pinera-Vazquez, an attorney residing on Alhambra Circle, is pushing for bike lanes through an open letter to dated December 6th to city officials, Pinera-Vazquez wrote; “It is evident that there is a concerted agenda by certain city staff members and special interest bicycle groups to forge ahead with bicycle lanes throughout the city despite the position of our residents and our elected officials.” On December 10th, the local attorney spoke before the City Commission and some fifty opposing residents and homeowners. Though a final decision is months away, Vice Mayor Vince Lago stated that the commission’s ruling to ditch the Riviera Drive project “set a precedent” that will make it difficult to not side with opposing homeowners once again. In 2015, a $597,000 grant was given to Coral Gables on behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation to carry out the Alhambra Circle project, which led to an important connection that included residential neighborhoods, the downtown area, UM, and the Underline, which included a 10-mile-stretch for pedestrians, joggers, and bikers below the elevated Metrorail tracks. However, when it comes to building Alhambra Circle bike lanes raises concern over of damage to almost 200 trees and potential changes to their quality of life. Motor vehicle traffic and potential accidents are also a concern as the construction of bike lanes lead to narrower driving lanes. Thus, increasing the potential for motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and bikers alike. In the meantime, Coral Gable residents will have to wait till later in 2020 when the project is expected to come up for a vote.
BIKE LANE ACCIDENTS AND MOTORISTS