Bicycle Paths, Transparency, Save Our Trees and Common Sense

At the last South Miami Commission meeting, I joined several concerned residents who reside on 64th street (Hardee Rd.) in speaking out during Public Remarks against an ill-conceived bicycle path from 62nd Ave. to 69th ave. Although my wife, kids and I, own bikes and enjoy an occasional bike ride, the thought of destroying 50-year-old Poinciana trees along with numerous oak trees was something we consider to be abhorrent. Certainly, eradicating the habitats of countless birds for a bicycle path that would lead only part of the way to a closed Ludlum Trail was reason enough to oppose this particular route. Another sad and unfortunate issue was that the stakeholders, the residents most negatively impacted, who pay their taxes and reside on 64th street, were not even officially notified by the city! We all know for a fact that the vast majority of South Miami Middle and High School students reside east of 67th avenue and will always use 65th avenue to avoid the speeding traffic on 64th street and 67th avenue in order to get to school.

Adding insult to injury, the resolution was hidden in the Consent Agenda, ready for a quick approval, as if it were a resolution approving the purchase of paper clips, or the repair of a copy machine. The lack of transparency had once again raised its ugly head! Also, as I stated during Public Remarks, the consultants for the “bicycle path to nowhere,” surveyed only 113 individuals, none of which live on 64th street west of 62nd Avenue. One hundred-thirteen residents out of approximately 13 thousand South Miami residents equates to less than 0.9% of our city! In addition, one would think that with a substandard capital improvement budget in our taxpayer funded general fund, wise and prudent use of our tax dollars would be observed.

However, the fact is, you cannot “mitigate” years of landscaping and investment by the property owners on 64th street, especially when the proposed, “bike path” will serve a negligible fraction of real bicyclists. You can’t “mitigate” 50 year old trees or, the habitats of countless birds as the Marlin study suggests. Let us create instead, a comprehensive and forward-thinking bike path which will serve more bicyclists both east and west of the Palmetto Expressway, such as, on Sunset Dr. and Miller Road. Let us create bicycle paths which will be even more accessible to the Ludlum Trail by both pedestrians and bicyclists, alike. Moreover, let us urge the current South Miami leadership to demand that the County expedite the clean-up of the recently discovered chemical contaminants on the Ludlum Trail, in order to provide a safe path to the underline and Dadeland…. The path that the vast majority will use!

Thank you, Vice Mayor Harris, Commissioners Gil, and Liebman for making sure that saving our trees, common sense and transparency prevailed.

Former S.M Mayor, Horace G. Feliu served on the Commission that worked to make the Ludlum Trail (Rails to Trail) a reality, and as Mayor, created the Green Task Force.


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7 Comments on "Bicycle Paths, Transparency, Save Our Trees and Common Sense"

  1. Yvonne Beckman | March 10, 2019 at 8:55 pm | Reply

    Thank you Horace for your very sensible article. Those 113 people that were polled ought to be ashamed if they voted in favor of killing the trees. When will you see the light ? And shame on commission members Stoddard and Welsh.

  2. Antoinette Fischer | March 11, 2019 at 10:58 am | Reply

    64 trees we’re slated for Destruction with no mitigation plan. Both sides of Southwest 64th Street were slated for a plan to do a bicycle path. The engineering company proposed a plan to clear a 7 ft depth of right-of-way on both sides of the street which would have involved the moving of County infrastructure as well as the destruction of residence property such as driveways, security gates and equipment, and mailboxes. The plan did not appear to be for a simple 3 foot wide bicycle path that could have been routed around the trees. The cost of hiring Marlin engineering would have been $200,000.

  3. Antoinette Fischer | March 11, 2019 at 11:03 am | Reply

    64 trees were slated for destruction with no mitigation plan. The words removal and mitigation were used but the truth is that no mitigation plan was included Within the backup for this agenda item. Both sides of Southwest 64th Street were slated for a plan to do a bicycle path. The engineering company proposed a plan to clear a 7 ft depth of right-of-way on both sides of the street which would have involved the moving of County infrastructure as well as the destruction of residence property such as driveways, security gates and equipment, and mailboxes. The plan did not appear to be for a simple 3 foot wide bicycle path that could have been routed around the trees. The cost of hiring Marlin engineering would have been $200,000.

  4. Interesting that two readers had identical letters to you. Well organized opposition. While I have no opinion on what the City proposed on 64 St as it doesn’t seem to have been openly broadcast to the general public, saying Miller and Sunset are good substitutes is not fair given that bicyclists can not be expected to ride half a mile out of their way at both ends of their trip, a total detour of 1 mile on roads that might have no bike facility at all. That both sides of 64 St were to be impacted implies bike lanes were proposed and not a bike path, the latter would be at least 8 ft wide per state and national standards but can weave around trees if homeowners give easements allowing the path to drift onto private property to save the trees and birds. That being said, FDOT dropped the ball years ago when it had an opportunity to extend Bike Route 8 on Sunset Drive from 87 Av east to the Ludlum Trail corridor, where the road becomes a City street. FDOT still doesn’t know what a bike path is and only supports bike lanes, and even then, didn’t put those in on Sunset either. When the CVS plans were approved at Miller and 67 Av, the County asked them to provide wider sidewalk to be used as future bikepath since Route 6 currently ends half a block west at 69 Av. Hopefully the owner(s) of the rest of the block on Miller will do the same if they ever redevelop. Meanwhile, perhaps the County can dig up some funds to run an extension of Route 6 from 67 Av to San Amaro Dr, to connect to the path network at UM.

  5. Leigh Emerson Smith | March 11, 2019 at 9:12 pm | Reply

    I love provisions for bicycles – I use my bicycle as primary form of transportation. I love trees more. So grateful to those commissioners who protected nature.

  6. Antoinette Fischer | March 14, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Reply

    J.Cohen, apparently the engineering company chosen for the job planned on doing the FDOT type of bicycle lanes, which was not at all what was advertised on the Commission Agenda. The words”bicycle path ” were used, which is generally agreeable to residents since bicycle paths don’t require the kind of destruction and construction that the engineering firm had proposed. This begs some legitimate questions. Why was there such a disconnect? Why didn’t the engineering firm work on a plan suitable for a 3′ wide bike path that would not have involved destruction of trees and property? This was either one of 2 things, a bait and switch scheme or total misunderstanding by the engineering firm. I would expect an engineering firm to know the difference between a bicycle path, and FDOT type of bicycle lanes, as you have referenced. I have to hold City Hall administration responsible for the plan which was presented to the public.The proposed contract was overkill and the person who has to be held accountable for this is the City Manager. I would like to hear him explain the discrepancy at the next Commission meeting. The Commissioner should be asking the questions. This is a matter of transparency and accountability,as usual, which is missing all too often, with this City Manager and Commission.
    Most of us share the values of Leigh Emerson Smith. We want bike paths that are harmonious with the natural environment!

  7. Our city has many problems to resolve beginning with the recent lawsuit paid out by WE the SM taxpayers due to lack of ADA compliance (Americans with Disability Act) in our parks! One would think that the money used on a minimally used bicycle path would be best utilized for addressing this lawsuit which requires immediate attention. Glad to know that there are people who are attending meetings and are watching out for those of us who can’t.

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