I am very lucky that I met Hank Sanchez-Resnik, who is becoming my mentor in all things activism. He is also a fantastic writer and I am learning to imitate him. Together, we began this Bike Key Biscayne group but recently we have been faced with an “emergency” on our bridge. You can read about my personal views here. In that post, I mentioned my trigger point was if bicyclists were not allowed on the bridge, and it seems that is a possibility. So Hank and I put together this statement which we have been circulating to anyone who will read it, and hence I post it to you.
FIXING THE BEAR CUT BRIDGE—
AND BEING FAIR TO BICYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS
by Cristina Ramirez and Hank Sanchez-Resnik
Co-Founders, Bike Key Biscayne
At the Key Biscayne Village Council meeting on Tues., Jan. 22, the problems with the Bear Cut bridge were once again the focus of attention. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez addressed the council and told them, “Something had to give …. There will be some sacrifices for pedestrians and bicyclists, but that’s the better solution.” This statement came as a surprise. After all, Mayor Gimenez has made it clear that he wants to promote bicycling in the county, he has been an active bicyclist himself, and he is organizing a major series of events in March to portray Miami-Dade as a bicycle-friendly place.
Yet the county is considering prohibiting bicyclists and pedestrians on the Bear Cut bridge connecting Key Biscayne to Virginia Key. The situation on the bridge, the need for repairs, the closure of one motor vehicle lane or more, the proposed removal of the multiuse protected path, and the public outcry all make this a trying situation for Key Biscayne residents, visitors, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike. Difficult though the situation is, we believe a solution must be found that does not involve blocking pedestrian and cyclist access to the bridge.
The plans are not finalized, and there’s still time to do the right thing. We understand the need for adequate vehicle lanes to handle the traffic in and out of the Key. We understand the need for an emergency declaration so an expedited RFP process can be held and work can begin. But this should not come at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. Throughout the rebuildling period the bridge should accommodate adequate lanes for motor vehicles and still provide safe accommodation for pedestrians and cyclists, including those slower cyclists who may not be strong or fast enough to ride on the roadway with motor vehicles even if they’re allowed to do so.
We are not saying the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists should take precedence over the needs of motorists and others who use the bridge. But we cannot accept that cyclists and pedestrians should be considered expendable. We call on Mayor Gimenez, Commissioner Xavier Suarez, and all involved in the debate to consider the needs and rights of all their voting constituents, not just motorists. We stand ready to assist in any way we can.