Cities of varying climates, creeds and cultures are beginning to show an interest in urban cycling, prompted by the same all-pervasive global issues that threaten all of civilisation. This is no different in Miami, a city famous for its celebrities and supercars. Cycling in Miami is gaining momentum.
Here an urban renaissance is quietly and slowly emerging, one that recognises the bicycle as the symbol of a future that is both livable and sustainable.
bike planner and proselytizer Mikael Colville-Andersen, purveyor of the myth that Copenhagen is the world’s most bike-friendly city, has recently visited Miami, to advise the city on how to most effectively raise levels of urban cycling.
Colville-Andersen suggests, like most cities, crucial to Miami’s transition will be on-street bike lanes separated from motorized traffic, by a curb, a slight pavement elevation or other barriers, and connected in a network that takes people places they need to go, safely and conveniently.
He claims that ‘If you build it, he said, cyclists will come out of the woodwork because of pent-up demand, as they have in city after city that’s taken the plunge.’
His company, Copenhagenize Design Co. has been tasked with providing plans for a bike network for Detroit and Long Beach, California, and Miami is likely to be next on the agenda.
On the surface, Miami, with its hospitable climate and gentle topography, is most amenable to cycling. But in fact it represents one of the most dangerous cities in which to cycle in the country. The preponderance of cars that has created such a dangerous climate for cyclists is not necessarily permanent. Car culture can be toppled.
Colville-Andersen elaborates his vision by suggesting that as streets and roads are designed solely for the swift conveyance of cars, they encourage speed and endanger pedestrians and cyclists. Instead, what is needed is a change of mindset, a paradigm shift, a reconception of streets as being hospitable spaces for all users.
This he backs up with the stark statistic that whereas a mile of road can move 1,300 people in cars in an hour, a mile of cycle track can move 5,900 cyclists.
From a landscape perspective, if an intricate network of cycle lanes was to be laid out across the city, it could also have significant effects on the urban heat island. Not only would the removal of vehicles lower temperatures, but the addition of trees to demarcate cycle paths would create the shade necessary for cycling in such a climate and absorb water from the tropical rainstorms. Essential in a city that suffers from flooding.
Along with thoughts of a more established network, plans are in place for facilities to encourage recreational cycling. Plan Z consists of a segregated, partially elevated cycle route that connects outdoor spaces to the city. Although this is more of a recreational trail, it will bolster the presence of cycling in Miami.
The important thing is that a dialogue is opening, a conversation is starting, and mindsets are shifting.
Check out Miami’s flourishing bike scene at: www.themiamibikescene.com