No Clear Path For Alhambra Circle Sidewalks And Bike Lanes

POLL RESULTS

Thank you to the over 700 participants in our online poll. Below you will find the poll’s results.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The City of Coral Gables had a community meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the future of Alhambra Circle from Coral Way to San Amaro Drive.

The project is estimated to cost over $1.3 million and would provide installation of sidewalks, paved bike lanes and road resurfacing. A bulk of the funding comes from a federal grant.

The City mentioned the project would include traffic calming but residents learned tonight the bike lanes and reduction in the road width for cars are what engineers expect would slow drivers.

Over a hundred people showed up to the community meeting, although not all were Coral Gables residents. About half spoke. Anyone who wanted to speak was given a number and had two minutes to share their thoughts on the project.

The civil, yet passionate, discussion appeared to be split down the middle between those in favor and those against the project. Some against the project are cyclists and runners themselves, but don’t believe this stretch of Alhambra is the right place for it.

The most passionate speaker was a resident who lives next to the bridge just north of Bird Road. She has experienced several accidents near her home including a death.

Those in favor of the project want a more walkable and bicycle friendly community. Many referenced climate change and reduction of cars to alleviate traffic.

Since the city adopted the 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, residents have been quick to critique it. The last attempt to implement portions of the master plan was on Riviera Drive, south of US-1, when residents massed at city hall against it. Some of those residents showed up to voice their concerns that their street would be made part of the plan again.

One resident who wished to remain anonymous told Gables Insider he believes the city needs to give the same consideration to Alhambra residents as they gave those on Riviera.

“We will look at the results of this meeting, look at where people live and make a recommendation.” said City Manager Peter Iglesias. He says that right now the city is concentrated on getting the proper input from the neighborhood in order to see if they move forward or not. Let us know what you think by commenting below. Want to send us an opinion/editorial, email it to us at info@gablesinsider.com.

Share:

27 thoughts on “No Clear Path For Alhambra Circle Sidewalks And Bike Lanes

  1. To All Concerned Gables Residents and Our Representatives: As a lifelong resident of Alhambra Circle, I am opposed to this bicycle path/sidewalk project in its present proposed form. I do not want to lose our nice green swales and their trees – – – or any part of them. I do not want a new mass of asphalt replacing the nice green swales that I and my neighbors have nurtured and maintained at our personal and continuous expense. My guests, my neighbors and their guests are able to legally park on our green swales causing no interference to the traffic on Alhambra Circle. To impede our green swales or take them away would do my home, my neighbors’ homes and our neighborhood great irreparable harm – – – particularly since our neighborhood has been declared a historic district (in my area — Alhambra Circle between Coral Way and Sevilla). These green swales and trees also present a consistent buffer from the noise of rush hour traffic that goes past our homes twice a day. I do not want my neighborhood turned into a post road-widened Bird Road with our property values decreased accordingly. I and my neighbors are the true stakeholders in this proposed project – – – not Mack Cycle, the University of Miami, the Dutch Consulate or Gables Bike Day (some of the “stakeholders” listed in the project documents). Because of my strong desire to protect the irreplaceable character of my historic neighborhood and my current home of 41 years, I have no choice but to express my opposition to this project in its present proposed form. Thank-you. Betsy Hoover-Thomas

  2. Maria,

    You should be ashamed of yourself comparing our City to Cuba. As an immigrant, you should know that your sentiments could not be further from the truth. Remember, you were given an opportunity to live in this great nation. Many people would give anything to have that opportunity. And all you do to give back is prattle off lies about your City and Country – the very place that has given you life. Shameful.

  3. We sorely need traffic calming and safe access along this part of Alhambra, even if some of our CITY swales are modified. As one who has gone over that bridge a few thousand times by foot, car, and bike since 1963, and still cycle it almost daily, I can say this – no road has ever reached out and hurt someone or damaged property. However, if you try to barrel around that bridge at 40 mph instead of under the posted limit of 20, bad things will happen. In addition, metal poles on the sidewalk adjacent to the bridge discourage cyclists from using it, forcing us to try to do battle with Range Rovers and whizzing sports cars on the bridge.
    Build The Walk!

  4. On the side walks: I live on Coral Gables, near Pinecrest, where the border is along Red Rd. Recently, Pinecrest put a sidewalk along their side Red Rd. Now, residents of both Pinecrest and Coral Gables can safely walk along Red road, without having to share the space and risk their lives with cars. Kids can safety walk to their school bus stop. If Pinecrest can do it on Red Rd., why can’t Coral Gables do it on Alhambra Circle from Coral Way to San Amaro Drive ?

    On the bike paths: the number one solution to obesity, heart disease and emotional instability is to do physical exercise; and riding a bicycle is a great way to do it while enjoining our beautiful city. Why can’t we put aside our petty arguments and do what is right for the community ? Let’s make it easy and safe for the Coral Gables citizens to reduce these chronic diseases. Let’s put bike paths along all major roads in our city.

  5. Funny that someone would bring up Cuba, a country where the government decides for the people. That’s exactly what our Gables bureaucrats are trying to do. The proof is in the pudding. How come those same City employees own cars? Ride to work?! What’s wrong with having those affected vote on whether they want it or not? For other traffic calming projects completed recently in the same area that is how it was done! Since this project is being presented as “traffic calming” the same procedure should be used!
    As to the 2014, no lies were presented, all the stakeholders were bicyclist related, even a bicycle shop! If in doubt get the report and read it!

  6. I’d also like to reduce the speed limit on N and S Greenway to 20mph. Tired of people riding my bumper and having to keep to the middle of the road to keep people from passing me. I do the same on Granada. I’d also like to implement some sort of educational campaign where cyclists are informed they have to obey the same laws as a vehicle. That means stopping at all lights and intersections and riding with the flow of traffic, not against. That’s how accidents happen. Got my dash cam for this specific purpose. Riders do not have the right of way, only pedestrians do. Seems only seasoned cyclists know this. Its paramount everyone become informed.

  7. Lucy, if there are any specific mature healthy trees you’re worried about losing, you should definitely bring them up with the City, and I will fight for them right alongside you.

  8. Some mature oaks will be uprooted with this proposed project. All the driveways that are now abutting the asphalt will be dug up. It’s not as simple as let’s add a sidewalk and paint the street. Speed limit on Red Road is 35mph not 50. Not sure where you’re gathering your data. The other part of Alhambra Circle you refer to is also historic. However there is a median and wider lanes allowing for a bike path.

  9. Mr Garcia the truth of the matter is that there are mature oaks that are going to be uprooted if this “proposed” plan goes through. Have you personally gone to see where those surveyor stakes are placed? Homeowners will have their driveways destroyed. I’m sure you’d be quite concerned if the project in question was going to plow through the front of your street. In reference to Red Road, the speed limit is 35mph not 50. Cyclists take that path, granted sometimes going against traffic, but they still take it to get to UM. In addition, Red Road has a good amount of traffic so I’m not sure who can do 50mph on that road. The fact of the matter is that this stretch of Alhambra Circle is a historic road with historic homes and they should remain untouched. The other part of Alhambra you refer to is indeed historic, however there is a median in the center and the lanes are wider, providing a bike bath with zero issues. By the way these are also your neighbors and residents of Coral Gables and I believe they more than anyone should have a say of what may happen to the front of their homes. Defacing this street will only cheapen it’s appearance and all that you loved about it will be gone.

  10. I care deeply about the history and beauty of this city. I would never suggest that mature trees be cut down or replaced by twigs for this project – that would be a tragedy. I agree that this is a beautiful street. Unfortunately right now that beauty can only be safely appreciated from behind a windshield. I don’t believe adding a simple sidewalk and a painted line on the street means that you’re “butchering” historic homes, or taking away from the beauty of the neighborhood. The historic parts of Alhambra Circle that already have sidewalks and bike lanes are not any less beautiful for it. The only “sitting ducks“ here are vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists that are in danger of being run over. Allow me to address the 57th Ave bike lanes, since they seem to be such a sticking point. 57th Avenue is a state road that is designed to carry heavy traffic at high speeds. Cars routinely speed at more than 50 miles per hour on that road. Some people might feel comfortable riding a bike on a street like that, but I would bet they are few. This project on Alhambra Circle should include traffic calming measures, including narrow lanes and roundabouts that discourage speeding and cut-through traffic. I hope that’s something we can all agree on. I hope we can all push the city and their consultants to do this project in a way that benefits all of us.

  11. Mr Garcia, the area in question that may be impacted is probably one of the most beautiful streets in all of Coral Gables. Why does the City want to butcher the front of these homes when there is a perfectly good bike path no more than 2 blocks to the west? It’s not the rich that run this City. These homes on this part of Alhambra Circle are sitting ducks with their fate in the hands of our elected officials. How would you like to get a notice stating your driveway is now going to get dug up, that mature oak that’s blocking the path of a sidewalk is now going to get cut down and replaced by a twig and the swale is now going to become narrower. I’ve lived in Coral Gables since 1967. I grew up in this City and that part of Alhambra, which holds only a handful of homes, will never have a chance so long as there are individuals with no regard for the aesthetics or history of this City. This is not Miracle Mile. This is not Giralda. These are people’s homes that you want to disrupt. Again, the bike path on 57 Ave runs parallel to the street the city wants to butcher. This bike path runs all the way from SW 8 street all the way to US1. Total waste of money and total disregard to homeowners being impacted.

  12. To suggest that the only opinions that matter are those of rich people with multimillion dollar homes is frankly offensive. This city is made up of many “middle class homes” with families and professionals who walk, bike, vote, and pay taxes. Even George Merrick always intended to include both “historical beauties” for the rich and middle class housing for workers in his vision for the City Beautiful, all sharing the same streets and public spaces. The streets in our city belong to all of us, and are part of a transportation network that should provide safe options for everyone regardless of race, income, or mode of transportation. At last night’s meeting I heard some of my neighbors making the argument that because parts of this street are unsafe today, it somehow means that we should not do anything to make it safer in the future. I don’t believe that’s the right conclusion. Yes, make sure we don’t lose our trees. Yes, make sure key safety concerns at the bridge are addressed. Yes, include traffic calming and discourage cut-through traffic. But don’t give up on safety and comfort for our most vulnerable citizens. I hope our city leaders have the courage to move forward with this project for the benefit of everyone, even over the objections of a few naysayers.

  13. To address Mr Romans comment. I agree with you 100%. However, I believe it should be put to a vote to those directly impacted on this matter. Unfortunately putting a vote to the masses will never work, there are numerous more middle class homes that will outnumber those historical beauties that I believe should be kept intact. It’s all hunky dory so long as the front of your home stays all nice and neat. I strongly doubt any of the comments that being posted in favor are from homeowners backing into the Golfcourse. Again, what’s wrong with the bike path on Red Road?
    It runs parallel with Alhambra and it’ll take you to UM and the Metro. Just my humble opinion.

  14. I hope this project moves forward. I applaud the City for conducting this community meeting and adhering to the democratic process. This is an example of what makes this country and city great. What upsets me is that certain residents will stop at nothing (lies and all) to steamroll progress. One lady spewed lies about the scope of the project last night and also about the community meetings that took place in 2014 regarding the bicycle master plan. She said there was no community input. Indeed there was. She also shamed our City government, saying it was a regime of staff shoving agendas and projects down the throats of residents. Sad to hear. These citywide initiatives are only trying to improve quality of life. If the majority of residents say no, then fine. The residents have spoken and I can live with that. But to lie about the project? And scoff at people who are speaking in favor of the project? If one does not like the democratic process that comes with living in America and the municipalities within and each resident having a voice, then I suggest moving out. Cuba anyone?

  15. Give the voters their say. The city stalled for years about pickup trucks and as soon as voters had their say they grasped the opportunity and voted in favor and against what the city was saying all along voters wanted, to no surprise of course.

  16. Last time I checked there was a perfectly good bike path that runs north south on 57th Ave. What’s wrong with that bike path? Shouldn’t this be put to a vote with the actual home owners who will be directly impacted? What’s going to happen with all those driveways that are abutting the asphalt? Will the city compensate the homeowners for digging up all their pavers? It’s great for all those that are not going to be directly inconvenienced to voice their demands but it’s a whole different ballgame when your marble pavers are going to be uprooted and your historical home with it’s beautiful front yard is all of a sudden ‘cheapened” Isn’t that that the reason everyone loves to ride on that part of Alhambra? Again there’s a perfectly good bike path on Red Road and a sidewalk. This City has a very tall order. We we are strategically located in the middle of everything. All transient traffic drives through Coral Gables. This will not improve. Dade County is thriving and 1600 plus people are moving to South Florida everyday. We are also home to the most aggressive drivers in the United States. Honestly if see one cyclist every morning Monday thru Friday it’s too much. I do see the Peloton on Granada every Sunday morning but I’m certain all these guys jump in their cars come Monday morning. The same happened with the homeowners on Riviera. When you are the one directly impacted, it all takes on a different meaning. Please put this to a vote with the property owners paying the huge property taxes to make the decision of a bike path and sidewalk. I don’t live in any of the areas impacted although I’m quite close, but putting myself in these homeowners shoes, with their multimillion dollar homes, I wouldn’t be all that thrilled. My apologies to all the cyclists and pedestrians I mean no disrespect.

  17. As someone who was also at the meeting, I echo Ms. Swain’s representation of the discussion.  I add that the city staff went above and beyond to repeatedly re-focus the meeting on its stated purpose, which was to have a respectful and fulsome dialogue about the Alhambra project that included the opinion of all relevant stakeholders.  Our city belongs to all of us, and we should all have an equal say in what occurs here.

    To that end, I applaud the city for holding this meeting and for conducting it in a transparent matter where all voices were given equal treatment and respect.  Far too often, it feels like a few people with the loudest voices, the most bombastic style, and the most free time drown out the needs and opinions of the majority of city residents.  It was wonderful to see that measures are being taken to allow everyone to participate in our city governance fairly, equally, and respectfully, including allowing those people who were unable to attend to use the website to submit written comments.*  Many of the young professionals and families who make up the vast majority of the population of Coral Gables are unable to attend commission and public meetings as they are usually held during the workday (while we’re at the office) or on weekday evenings (while we’re helping out children study and putting them to bed).  Indeed, to the point of the commenter who referenced the city’s demographics, as of the 2018 United States census, now 82.8% of Coral Gables residents are under the age of 65 and nearly 20% of the city’s residents are children.**  This, of course, is fantastic news!  We are an evolving, vibrant, and growing city where people want to live, work, and raise families.  How lucky are we!

    We are also lucky to live in a city that sees an emerging issue and has a staff that works so tirelessly to react to it with a well-thought out and reasonable solution, instead of ignoring it until it spirals into a gigantic problem.  

    Bike lanes and sidewalks are not a proactive project that will bring new troves of somehow-frightening fitness fanatics to our streets.  This is a reactive project (that just happens to also have a lot of positive health, social, environmental, and economic side benefits).

    People are already cycling, scooting, and walking, often with strollers, in the road amongst the drivers on Alhambra between Blue Road and the University of Miami because there are no bike lanes and no continuous sidewalks.  Ignoring the fact that less and less people are driving and more and more people are using alternative modes of transportation, whether for commuting or recreational purposes, will not make it go away.  And, with the implementation of the Underline and the growing use of the combination of scooter and bike shares combined with the Metrorail for commuting, the number of people who are going to bike, scooter, and walk between US 1/UM area and the Miracle Mile area in the road on Alhambra (and take the lane from drivers, as they are allowed to do under Florida law wherever there is no bike lane for bikes and scooters or sidewalk for pedestrians) will only grow, especially since there is already a bike lane on the northern half of Alhambra that connects to Miracle Mile.  This is a current, pressing safety issue for drives, for cyclists, and for pedestrians on this road, and it’s not one that we can turn a blind eye to any longer.

    I, for one, cannot wait to be able to more safely drive, as well as cycle and run, with my neighbors and family throughout the beautiful city of Coral Gables thanks to the implementation of connected bike lanes and sidewalks.

    *https://www.coralgables.com/departments/PublicWorks/alhambracompletestreets
    ** https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/coralgablescityflorida

  18. Hi John, I am sure that some elderly people, as well as some people of all ages, ride bikes, but I am pretty sure that most elderly do not. That was the point!
    By the way, I accept your explanation as to why you didn’t ride your bike to the meeting. I agree with you that it was dark. It makes more sense than the bicyclist I observed riding on University Drive and turning onto Granada, as I was going home, WITHOUT any lights!!!!
    Also, may I suggest that you keep and eye on some of the employees that strongly advocate for the bike paths and instead drive cars everywhere. Perhaps they should be “walking the talk” or should I say “riding the talk.”

  19. I’m retired and live in Coral Gables near Alhambra Circle and LeJeune. I ride the south Alhambra Circle route regularly on my bike for exercise (2-3 times a week) and would value bike lanes (I also think sidewalks should be everywhere, we need to make walking easier). I take this route because it’s safer than most streets in town, but still many drivers don’t feel that bikers have equal roadway rights; they speed regularly and feel free to pass cyclers even when there’s someone coming the other way, a constant worry. As a whole, I find drivers to be very impatient (I drive, too, by the way) and we all need reminders to slow down and be safer more considerate.

  20. What the City NEVER presents is the all the signage that accompanies the bike lanes. New bike lane signs will abound Alhambra and connecting streets. a new eyesore for drivers, as well as property owners. So, as they evaluate this proposal, I recommend that my fellow residents take into account all the incremental signage that will be polluting our enjoyable views.

  21. It will only be worth it if the bike lane is separated by parked cars, a grass median or some other barrier to keep the cyclists safe. Currently the bike lane on Alhambra is next to the traffic lane. This does not work, as most drivers still text and drive and use the bike lanes to pass other cars. Maybe widen the existing sidewalks to include a bike path, as sidewalks are on a city/county owned swale protecting them from traffic. If a safe option is not possible, then it’s not worth the effort. I want bike lanes, but want to be safe while cycling.

  22. The issue of the unsafe bridge on Alhambra was brought up several times. Ms Keller answered that “the consultants were giving special attention to the area near the bridge to find a way to
    engineer a solution.” Well, well! So Ms. Keller, as in Jessica Keller, Assistant Public Works Director, wrote an application for a grant specifically for the 2.3 miles of Alhambra between Coral Way and San Amaro and NEVER travel the area, maybe on her bike, to find any pitfalls that would need to be addressed. Actually she publicly admitted that she became aware when it was pointed out to her by the residents. Of course the Consultants didn’t either! The project probably looked very good on paper. Is it unfair or unrealistic to expect a competent expert to check the area first?
    I wonder how much money has been spent on the consultants to sell this project to the City, how about how much has been spent in employee salaries to work on this.
    By the way, the previous MARIA comment is also mine. Most of you know I never fail to admit who I am.

  23. John, thanks for your comment. We also kept tally but only of those residents that identified as Coral Gables residents. The City wont take into consideration the wants and needs of people that don’t live in Coral Gables such as Palmetto Bay, South Miami or City of Miami. Therefore in our view, it was almost evenly split.

  24. Your article states: “The City mentioned the project would include traffic calming but residents learned tonight the bike lanes and reduction in the road width for cars are what engineers expect would slow drivers.”
    Narrower lanes WILL slow drivers. There are dozens of studies that found a direct correlation between road width and speeding. Here is quote from NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
    “Narrower streets help promote slower driving speeds which, in turn, reduce the severity of crashes. Narrower streets have other benefits as well, including reduced crossing distances, shorter signal cycles, less stormwater, and less construction material to build.”

    Your article states: “The civil, yet passionate, discussion appeared to be split down the middle between those in favor and those against the project.”
    I kept a tally of all the people who spoke. I had 23 for and 11 against. That isn’t even close to being evenly split. While it isn’t an official count, clearly the majority of speakers were in support of the project.

    To “Maria”: Hi Maria, I am an “elderly” person who lives and rides a bike in Coral Gables. (My “elderly” wife also rides her bike, you my have seen her riding to church.) I rode my bike to Ponce Jr and Coral Gables Sr. high schools way back in the ‘60s. I’ve been a waiting most of my life for the City to finally provide me with a safe place to ride. KUDOS to the City for finally stepping up to the plate.
    PS: I didn’t ride my bike to the meeting because it would be dark when I left and I don’t have a safe way to get back home.

  25. This was the first community meeting for the city and residents to share ideas. There were 36 speakers, 23 for, 11 against, and 2 just making comments. Of the 11 against, 5 were concerned about the safety at the bridge. The City repeatedly assured the residents that the consultants were giving special attention to the area near the bridge to find a way to engineer a safe solution. This is an excellent reason to attend the “walkshop” on October 19 – concerns about specific locations can be shared.
    My favorite quote of the evening, “Don’t pretend you care about my safety if you don’t want to provide a safe place for me to ride.” (Kenneth Garcia, north Alhambra Circle resident who rides a bike to work in South Miami, and does not own a car)

  26. This Community Meeting was very interesting. It was obvious to some of us that it really was not about the Alhambra project because there were people present from all over the county. Besides Gables residents who will be affected by the proposed project, some in favor, some against, there were residents from other areas of the City, residents of South Miami, and even some from as far out as Palmetto Bay! What was this about? Once again City employees, who think they know best, and bicyclists that want to change the face of our City. They talked about how other countries and other communities far, far from us and very different as well, do bicycle to work; how property values have risen in places like INDIANAPOLIS; how it is healthy to ride bikes, etc. None of them mentioned the demographics of our City; how many elderly people do you see riding bikes, or better yet, scooters? They did mention climate change, but not about how many people will ride in 90 plus degree weather!!!! Looking outside the Youth Center I was able to locate ONE bicycle! How come those advocating for bike paths did not ride to the meeting? Could it be that they speak from both sides of their mouths?
    KUDOS to City Manger Iglesias for seeing through the smoke and mirrors and proposing to canvass those who will be affected by this. Let’s see what they say about something that will really change the face of their residential neighborhood!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *