Despite the fact that just four percent of the county’s population lives there, twelve percent of the county’s bicycle-related accidents in 2005 occurred in Miami Beach, where bike lanes are as rare as available parking. With those figures in mind, this past week I joined self-described “local cranktivist” Gabrielle Redfern for a tour of the Beach’s bike lanes. It didn’t take long.
“This was clearly the way the city thought they could make me shut up,” Redfern said cheerfully at the corner of 42nd Street and Sheridan Avenue, the start of the Beach’s first-ever bike lane, built in 2004. “Look at it: It’s a four-foot travel lane, no parking, well-striped.” But no sooner had she sung its praises than the lane vanished four blocks later. “And then it ends. And here we are, at the end.”
Redfern, a stylish, funny, and unceasingly energetic woman in her midforties, took up bikes as a cause when she moved to the Beach in 1998. She’s a member of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), was president of her Orchard Park neighborhood association, and is on the steering committee for the Beach’s Alliance for Reliable Transportation. She’s running for city commissioner this fall.
Our next stop on the Beach bike tour was a lane on Alton Road. When resurfacing work began on Alton four years ago, Redfern clamored for bike accommodations. Instead, the Beach got “bulb-outs” on the northern stretch — aesthetically enhanced hunks of concrete that hug curbs, and are intended to have a “calming” effect on traffic. When the second phase of the Alton Road project began, Redfern redoubled her efforts. “I made big stinks,” she said. “Big stinks.” (…)
Redfern remains hopeful. She has lots more plans for bike lanes on the Beach, on Prairie Road and along the Dade Canal, as well as an extension of the existing Alton Road lane.
“If you build it,” Redfern assured, “they will ride.”