Public art along the Atlanta Belt Line
A 10 mile-long rail trail in Boston, called the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway, provides a scenic commuter route to 1,200 cyclists and pedestrians each day–that’s at least 8,400 trips per week. In Boulder, Colorado, a city where 10% of commuters ride a bike to work, the 7.5 mile-long Boulder Creek Path transports even more people to work, to school, and to fun places every day. A repurposed railway in Atlanta, called the Belt Line, connects dozens of neighborhoods and businesses that would have otherwise remained disconnected. The Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, a 5.5 mile-long “bike highway” carries an astounding 4,000-5,000 people to their daily destinations. Other examples include the Los Gatos Creek Trail in San Jose, California, the Lake Monona Bike Path in Madison, Wisconsin, the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia, the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway in New York City as well as several others in Chicago, Portland and Austin too.
Here’s the great news: Miami is this close to having a bike greenway that would rival any of the examples listed above. The Ludlam Trail is a 6.2 mile-long abandoned rail corridor that travels from the Miami airport to Dadeland in Kendall, in a straight and uninterrupted line. While it has been envisioned to become a transit route in the past, it is currently vacant. More recently, the county Parks Master Plan outlines a vision that involves a continuous bicycle and pedestrian trail that would connect people to all of the places they need to go, without having to get into their cars. In a city that has been starved for alternate transportation networks, the Ludlam Trail is a hidden gem.
Here’s the disappointing news: on November 19, the Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), the current landowner of the 100-foot wide Ludlam Trail, is scheduled for a hearing with the county commission. The FECI seeks an amendment to the comprehensive plan that will include a density increase and a new designation for the property. The increased density is not the problem. The fact that there is no plan illustrating how or where the increased density is intended to be located is the problem. There is no plan showing the location of the trail, leading most to wonder if it will even exist amongst all of the new development. If the comprehensive plan amendment is approved, FECI will have been granted permission to build 80% more apartments, townhouses and houses, but without being asked to commit to any clear plan for what would be located where—and without even proving there will still be enough space for a real bike trail. Further, public input has been largely ignored, like it often is when it comes to new projects in our city.
The Atlanta Belt Line converted old railway into a shared use path that will connect dozens of Atlanta neighborhoods. Imagine what this kind of project could do for Miami!
In Miami, we’re growing and change is inevitable. To be clear: this post is not an anti-development rant, but is instead a plea to develop in a smart and sustainable way. A plea to recognize an asset as valuable as the Ludlam Trail corridor, and create a plan for the property that includes a state-of-the-art bike greenway, just like every other major city in the United States has done (even the ones with really cold winter weather).
If there is going to be a legal change in the comprehensive plan (an ordinance that regulates our built environment), members of the community that have to live with these changes deserve an opportunity to contribute input. More than 1,000 people move to Florida every day and Miami Dade County is the most populous county in the state. Our roads are beyond congested and advocates have demanded other options for travel. For example, during the public process for the Seven50 regional plan for southeast Florida, more than 1,750 people actively participated in a poll concerning future development in the region. With four potential scenarios to choose from, the participants overwhelmingly chose the option where transit, bike networks, and pedestrian facilities are the primary method for moving around the region.
Read more ›