New Crandon bike lane coming to the key, despite some objections
The idea behind a bike path down Crandon Boulevard is to ensure safety between cyclists and motorists, although it is a plan one Key Biscayne councilman said would open unnecessary problems and expose the island.
The village council recently agreed in a 6-1 vote to implement a $300,000 bike lane stretching approximately 1.5 miles from the northern boundary of the village (just south of Calusa Park) to the southern boundary (The Towers of Key Biscayne).
There will be bike lanes on both sides of the boulevard, and it is expected to be completed at the end of 2020.
Councilman Luis Lauredo voted against the measure, expressing concern for spending taxpayer money to accommodate participants of a sport who are not primarily village residents. According to minutes of council meeting, Lauredo also said allowing further penetration of outside pelotons into the island will fundamentally change the island’s character.
Village Manager Andrea Agha recommended the council accept a $100,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation for the Crandon Boulevard Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Project.
Jake Ozyman, the village’s Building Zoning and Planning Director, told the council the village’s portion of the project, roughly $200,000, was previously budgeted and together with state funds will result in green bike lanes going down Crandon Boulevard.
“These are very difficult times ahead, economically,” Lauredo told the Islander News, noting that the $100,000 in state funds is also taxpayers money. “This is a waste of money. This is extremely important for the negative impact on our community. It benefits zero for Key Biscayne residents. It’s 99% to facilitate the pelotons.”
Councilwoman Katie Petros looks at the project from a safety standpoint.
“The hope is that it will increase safety for all cyclists,” she said, “and encourage the more recreational cyclists to feel more safe and potentially get off the sidewalks. And to encourage (Key Biscayne residents) to use more bikes instead of cars.
“We’re constantly trying to find ways to keep safe.”
The Key Biscayne Transit Mobility Study reads:
A cultural shift, enabling and encouraging people to move about the community without a car, is one that is naturally occurring in society today, necessitated by the roadway system reaching a critical mass, and running out of capacity. The shift is inevitable, because continued expansion of the roadway network is costly, both in financial, and political terms. What is changeable through action or inaction is the speed by which this shift occurs.
The new bike lane will be painted in green and include symbols that will alert motorists that there are bike lanes, especially in conflict points such as at intersections, said Ozyman.
“Let’s say you’re driving down Crandon and make a right at Harbor” Drive, he said. “That’s a conflict point. It alerts both parties to be aware – both motorists and cyclists.”
Lauredo, however, remained recalcitrant. He said the village is already invaded by outsiders pursuing their sport: “And we’re going to open a part of our community to be potentially exposed to all kinds of problems. This is not just a bicycle issue. I will fight it to the end.
“They will turn into the residential areas,” he said. “It opens up by exposure, with potentially more crime, and car break-ins. Who do I know that goes downtown? Nobody. This is not anything but a sport. And as a sport, 99 percent for outsiders. They don’t stay on the green lane.”
Lauredo said Paris or Amsterdam can have dedicated bike lanes for people to go to work. “But in Key Biscayne, it’s just for sport. I’m not going to expose my community to all the negative.”
Petros acknowledges pelotons pass through the village, but doesn’t feel the bike lane will change their behavior. “It will increase the safety for those who cycle for different reasons.”
Still, Lauredo struggled to find the benefit to the village. “I am a devout bicyclist, and am mostly on the sidewalks and beautiful parks. I think (the new lane) would change fundamentally the character of this island community.”