Bike Lanes & Sidewalks In Front Of Your Home?

On September 25th the City of Coral Gables will be having a community meeting at the Youth Center (405 University Drive) starting at 6:30pm to discuss adding sidewalks and a bicycle lane along Alhambra Circle from Coral Way to San Amaro Drive. The project stems from the 2014 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and is part of the city’s complete streets resolution.

The Alhambra Circle roadway improvement project is part of a five year capital improvement plan with an estimated cost of $1,291,760 which includes a $597,760 grant. The scope of the project includes reducing automobile lane widths to ten feet to calm traffic, construction of adjacent bicycle lanes, as identified in the adopted Coral Gables Bicycle Master Plan, repave the entire roadway and provide ADA compliant sidewalk connections.

“At the end of the day this is an important public safety project for the City of Coral Gables. For too long the portion of Alhambra, south of Coral Way, has been a danger zone for pedestrians. ” says Robert Ruano who is a resident near Alhambra Circle and is Chairman of Bike Walk Coral Gables. Bringing pedestrian safety to the area is a major component to the project. The city wants to build a safe pedestrian infrastructure to be able to grant pedestrian access to local neighborhood parks such as Betsy Adams Park and Blue Road Open Space.

Sections of Alhambra that don’t have sidewalks will surely get them. That’s because the City Commission passed Resolution 2018-268 which eliminated the concurrency requirements for the construction of new sidewalks along collector streets such as Alhambra, Blue Road, Granada, Riviera, University and Sunset.

When it comes to traffic calming, the city says reducing the vehicular lane width and adding a bike lane slows cars down. Ruano agrees, saying “The bike lanes, which I understand they would propose, would slow down the speed of traffic and would force groups of cyclists to ride in the bike lane, find another street, or risk the chance of a ticket.”

The planned bicycle path will be painted without any physical barriers, which has some residents concerned. “The original grant application was for the construction of striped bicycle lanes” says Jessica Keller, Assistant Public Works Director, adding “there may be segments where protected bicycle infrastructure is an option we will explore”. The city itself promotes protected bike lanes on their dedicated page, https://www.coralgables.com/bike.

However, some say regardless of the lanes being protected or not, this is what the city needs to do to follow the complete streets concept and move forward. “Families may use the sidewalk for cycling, but commuter cyclists prefer the street. Pedestrians are the most unpredictable element on a sidewalk in addition to dogs. Sidewalks are not the ideal place to ride a bike. While a bike lane may not be a protected bike lane, it alerts drivers that its an area they should not go into and slows traffic down.”  says Sue Kawalerski who is a longtime resident and avid member of the cycling community.  

The community meeting is almost guaranteed to be contentious. In 2018, a similar bicycle lane was proposed on Riviera Drive just south of US-1. A group of 40 residents massed at city hall strongly opposing bicycle lanes on the already busy street. The commission at the time voted in favor of the Riviera Drive neighbors and most hold the same office today; with the exception of Commissioner Frank Quesada whose seat is now held by Commissioner Jorge Fors, Jr.

One of the most criticized components has been the master plan itself. The 2014 Bicycle and Pedestrian master plan cites the main stakeholder groups involved with the creation of the plan as Bike Walk Coral Gables, Gables Bike Day, Mack Cycle, UBike/University of Miami and the Dutch Consulate.

“The only stakeholders included in the master plan seems to have been bicycle related non-profits, a business that sells bicycles and the Dutch Consulate.” says nearby resident Maria Cruz who received notice about the meeting, adding “We’re not Amsterdam, we’re Coral Gables and if we’re going to change and evolve then city employees should ask the real stakeholders, the residents and taxpayers what we want.”

Residents want to see a respectful and transparent process of public input and discourse. Something the city has been working hard at. Their first chance will be at this community meeting.

“Informed effective input is a necessity. This is a different kind me-too movement; you have to build the public right of way with me in mind. Me the cyclist. Me the car user. Me the pedestrian and me the electric scooter user.” said Kawalerski. She believes residents should give input on what the design should look like from the beginning and not the other way around.

A simple Google News search of “bike lanes” shows similar debates are being held nationwide. Let us know what you think about having bike lanes and sidewalks on your street in a comment below.  

Click Here for a copy of the 5 year Capital Improvement Plan

Click Here for a copy of the 2014 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

Click Here for the Riviera Bicycle Path Item Verbatim Minutes

Click Here for a copy of the Community Meeting Notice

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17 thoughts on “Bike Lanes & Sidewalks In Front Of Your Home?

  1. Why is making streets safe for everyone who uses them a debate? This sounds like a win all around – slow drivers, space for walking your dog and pushing strollers and space for bikers – plus now the spandex bikers will have to bike in the bike lane and not block traffic! The City also needs to provide sustainable transportation choices to us which are sorely lacking. We claim to be a green city yet still build for cars only. I look forward to being able to bike safely from my house, with my son, to the Underline and the parks in the area. Who do I need to call/write to make this happen?

  2. As I understand it, the roads are paid for, in part, by tax on motor vehicle gasoline. As bicycles do not use gasoline, they do not contribute to the roads and therefore should not be on them. It is also dangerous for them as well. Stay in your own lane.

  3. As a casual biker and having been knocked off
    My bike, it would be beneficial for these lanes. I understand the concern of othe beatification etc current non bikers have – however if you see the traffic speed and flow of many drivers this will not only slow them down but reduce the pedestrian risk

    I am new to Coral Gables and enjoy the walks and rides except for those lunatics behind the wheel

  4. Manolo:I do go to work every day in bike.Great idea to resurface and fix Alhambra Circle.Bicicle path ,great!!It was long overdue!!

  5. Nicole good thoughts however you lost me when you say ” you just change into your suit and dress shoes in your office as soon as you arrive.” I sweat. I don’t know about everyone else but in 80 & 90 and lately feels like 100+ degree weather perspiration is a real thing. Just standing outside without moving people sweat.

    The existing lanes north of Coral Way on Alhambra are protected by old tree canopies that provide shade I’ll give you that. Have you seen the canopy south of Coral Way? It’s non existent with puny oak and mahogany trees the city planted that aren’t being maintained and aren’t growing. By the way the city is going to have to dig them out and relocate them in order to accommodate the lane and sidewalk. What a disaster.

    I’ll also add that bike lanes are not attractive and Alhambra is a historic road. Changing the width or appearance is not in accordance with historic preservation. Gables cant have it both ways. Another post mentioned signs which is already a problem. Anywhere where these new crosswalks are added or lanes exist is full of excess yellow signs and increase signage telling you to share the road. We’re not exactly looking like a city beautiful lately.

  6. My answer to the query posed in this article’s title is an enthusiastic YES PLEASE!

    We have the pleasure of living in a bikable, walkable city with year-round sunshine. Why wouldn’t we, as a city, take advantage of this fantastic opportunity, especially by making our streets safer, more sustainable, and more attractive to younger families and residents (which increases everyone’s property values, even if you don’t want to use the provided lanes yourself)?

    Further, the proposed route of these new bicycle lanes, when combined with the existing lanes on Alhambra, will provide a connection from the Metrorail and UM to Miracle Mile, allowing residents and students to move more safely and easily between those our city’s two main cultural and employment centers. Such a safe connection is especially important as bike and scooter shares become a larger part of our community’s transportation fabric, particularly as a last-mile transportation solution (i.e. to help people easily access destinations within a mile of a public transportation hub). People already use Alhambra to travel by bike between those two locations, and the number of people so doing will only continue to increase.

    The reality of our changing and evolving city is that people, without cars, will be using our streets. Why would we not want to make it as safe as possible for this inevitable change? Do people want to risk seeing horrific accidents in front of their homes instead of an unobtrusive bike line and a sidewalk?

    And, to address some concerns of other commenters, my family and I, including our preschool-aged son, walk, run and cycle in Coral Gables year-round, including to commute to school and work, often using the existing bike lanes on Alhambra. Shorts, a weather app, and a poncho are all you need to “beat the heat” and avoid a quick-passing rain storm, and you just change into your suit and dress shoes in your office as soon as you arrive. The effort needed to casually pedal a commuting bike, as opposed to a punishing, sweaty ride workout on a road bike, are two very different things.

    What’s the downside in making our community safer, more active, more connected, and more engaged with our beautiful surroundings?

  7. Bike lanes are fantastic! But only if they are Parking Protected Bike Lanes or there is a grass and hedged median between the cars and the bike lanes. If the bike lane is next to traffic, then don’t even go through the effort. Most people drive with one hand on their phone, the other on their latte and their head in the clouds, and use the bike lanes to pass slower drivers. Best move for Giralda was to get rid of the cars. Now there’s an idea.

  8. The City officials should be leading by example. We call ourselves the City Beautiful, but when it down to the core, we are the city that forgets that we are in South Florida and there are only two seasons: hot and hotter, wet and wetter! Look at my perspective. I can’t see my children riding on Alhambra on the proposed narrower lanes. How many “share your lane” signs like the one posted here will be placed along this road? The striped lanes won’t be enough; the clutter will certainly change us from the City Beautiful to the City of Signs!!!!

  9. Who in his sane mind thinks that anyone will be riding a bike under a horrendous downpour, almost every day in the summer. What about the scorching heat? This is not realistic! Who will ride to work wearing business clothes? coat and tie? dresses and high heels? Will the workplaces be expected to provide showering facilities?
    Let’s get a grip and face reality. I don’t see many of our city executives and elected officials riding bikes to work. Actions speak louder than words. Let them start doing what they preach and hope the others will follow!

  10. As all of you can see I do use my complete name when writing comments anywhere. I really believe that no one needs to be concerned about doing so. I have read Robert’s comment and appreciate his effort to explain the composition of the “main stakeholder committees.” I didn’t come up with that description; as I wrote before it is on page 18 of the 2014 report. There is a statement,when talking about the City committee, “members all must live in the city” which is not accurate. The City Commission may waive that requirement, and it has been done in various occasions. I do not know if this is the case here, or not. He also fails to justify why the Dutch Consulate was “involved with the creation of this plan.” Do we have a Mack Cycle store in the Gables? What about input from the people who drive? Are they not part of the equation? Should they not have been invited to participate when drafting the plan?

  11. It is great to see so many residents opine on this forum and hope to see many neighbors at the September 25th community meeting. One item that must be clarified however is the issue of stakeholders not being residents. Of the 13 people listed under Bike Walk Coral Gables, for example, 10 are Gables residents, the other 3 work in the Gables. Under the Mack Cycle Committee, all 3 are city residents. In addition, the Coral Gables Traffic & Parking Advisory Committee members all must live in the city. These are residents and taxpayers and just because some don’t agree with them, does not mean that their opinion is somehow not valid. In addition to the resident stakeholders, there was also an open public meeting at the Youth Center, where the general public could provide input. Finally, the item was presented at two Commission meetings – and then adopted unanimously. The 2014 Plan aside, this corridor has been listed in other city plans, including the 2004 plan that was also approved by the City Commission.

    I applaud the City for finally bringing this plan forward and hope my neighbors will support it.

  12. On any given day, there are a lot more pedestrians than bikers along Alhambra between Bird and Blue. We pedestrians need a sidewalk, with a good distance between us and the increasing number of inconsiderate, distracted, disrespectful and speeding drivers. Thank God, there are still some drivers who actually slow down &/or create a respectful distance between their cars and the pedestrians. But these drivers with good sense are becoming rare. It’s frightening to experience an automobile or SUV weighing thousands of pounds speeding by within inches of vulnerable walkers and bikers. We try to hug the side of the road, or even walk on people’s yards. But it’s still too close considering the way many people are driving now.

  13. Making Coral Gables more pedestrian friendly and more bicycle friendly is making the city BETTER. We have a wonderful home town, but it can be better and safer. I’m willing to pay to achieve that.

  14. I enjoyed reading the article it was very informative, as to the comment by Ms. Herrmann I would point out that if she actually had taken the time to consider the article’s contents with a sense of objectivity she would have taken notice of the following paragraph: “One of the most criticized components has been the master plan itself. The 2014 Bicycle and Pedestrian master plan cites the main stakeholder groups involved with the creation of the plan as Bike Walk Coral Gables, Gables Bike Day, Mack Cycle, UBike/University of Miami and the Dutch Consulate”. The groups represented here, with the exception of the Dutch Consulate (what are they thinking?) are all interested in the sale, distribution and use of Bicycles. Where are the real stakeholders? the residents and voters that actually live in the city beautiful.

  15. Ms. Herrmann,
    Speaking of ignorance, please educate me as to why if Coral Gables is not Amsterdam the Dutch Consulate is listed as “one of the main stakeholder groups” on page 18 of the 2014 Coral Gables Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan. Could it have been that we needed diplomatic assistance to come up with this plan? or perhaps that our dedicated city employees needed insight as to how the Netherlands deal with bicycles and pedestrians?
    If in fact you believe that our streets are infested in (sic) cars, is it fair to assume that you do not own, or drive a car? Of course, you must not avail yourself of any uber, or other drive sharing vehicle, because after all they are CARS!
    I suggest you get educated as to why our residents, in the most recent (2018) Community Engagement Study did NOT list bicycle paths as important!

  16. Wake up, people. “Bringing pedestrian safety to the area is a major component to the project”
    has nothing to do with the project. The real agenda behind it is called Agenda 21 aka Agenda 2030 aka Sustainable Development. One of the goals, among many, of this Agenda 21 is to get rid of cars. Have you seen the City of Coral Gables concerned about the lack of parking space? Of course not. PLEASE do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the issue of Sustainable
    Development (which by the way has nothing to do with neither sustainability nor protecting the planet.) Visit Rosa Koire website democratsagainstunagenda21.com to find out more about the subject. You owe it to yourself and to the coming generations.

  17. There’s, so much ignorance among people who just refuse to make changes to better the city and the environment. People just try to make excuses “we are not Amsterdam”.. Of course we are not…!!.. That’s why Miami and Coral Gables and every city in USA are infested in cars. Thefore contributing to pollution and obesity of people who are just siitiing on cars with no physical activity. The problem here is just we look for problems on goid projects instead of solutions. I am appalled of the 2018 decision of giving in to the pressure of ridículos claims that it was already a busy street on Riviera Drive. How about putting the same constraints and regulations for the horrendous amount of cars??.. Just do more research on the health and environmental benefits of bike lanes on cities around the world.. Get information and get educated instead of just opposing with the ridiculous claim that we are not Amsterdam…

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