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Your View: Prioritize cycling and connectivity with the Miami Loop

Like many families, we’ve been biking and walking around town and leaving the car at home more and more. Our kids in their 20s also get where they’re going using their bikes and public transit. It should be so easy to do, given Miami’s weather and flat terrain!

But it’s not quite paradise out there yet for those of us seeking to be less car-reliant. Bike facilities are few and disconnected, and the streets lack shade trees. It’s often tough to find crosswalks — or even intersections — at reasonable intervals; sidewalks are too narrow and oftentimes in disrepair, interrupted by signs and littered with garbage, nails, and broken glass.

Recent grassroots developments give me hope that the tide is turning. In particular, the Friends of the Underline , and the Friends of the Ludlam Trail have been gathering the public imagination around the future of biking in Miami. We can almost see the immediate future, a time when more of us will be on our bikes in this subtropical paradise. These projects show that trails can be more than just “transportation corridors;” they’ll be a powerful demonstration of just how good public space can be.

Over the course of two years or so, these initiatives have been gaining traction. The Friends of the Underline have recently hired James Corner Field Operations, designers of NYC’s Highline, to make proposals for the 10-mile linear park beneath the elevated tracks of Metrorail. Meanwhile, the Friends of the Ludlam Trail, seeking to acquire the 100’ right of way from SW 80th Street to Blue Lagoon and the vicinity of MIA, have gathered political champions in Miami-Dade County Commissioners Xavier Suarez, Rebecca Sosa, and Daniella Levine-Cava, Miami City Commissioner Francis Suarez, and leadership in South Miami and Pinecrest.

Recently, though, South Miami Commissioner Bob Welsh has been vocal about having the Ludlam Trail implementation have a higher priority over the Underline. What’s lost in this tactic of “picking sides” — implementing one segment of trail instead of the other — is that we need BOTH. Implementing both projects could make this a watershed moment for Miami-Dade. Yes, we want them both, and given the microscopic pittance spent year after year in our state on bike and pedestrian projects compared to highways, it’s time we had them both.

A map of the proposed "Miami Loop" shows how The Ludlam Trail, the Underline, and the proposed Miami River Greenway could form a new network of connected trails and paths throughout the county for cyclists and pedestrians. (Courtesy of Mari Chael)
A map of the proposed “Miami Loop” shows how The Ludlam Trail, the Underline, and the proposed Miami River Greenway could connect trails and paths throughout the county for cyclists and pedestrians. (Courtesy of Mari Chael)

The Ludlam Trail and the Underline could form the organizing structure for an interconnected system of trails: the Underline would connect Pinecrest and South Dade, South Miami, Coconut Grove, Key Biscayne, and Brickell to Downtown; the Ludlam Trail would connect Downtown Kendall, South Miami, Coral Terrace, Westchester and Blue Lagoon to the vicinity of MIA.

But why stop there?  For many years, the Miami River Greenway Commission has advocated for a promenade by the Miami River and along the North and South NW River Drive, which could link Downtown to Miami International Airport.  The Miami River Greenway could connect to the north end of the Underline, and with a connector along the vicinity of MIA, link to the north end of the Ludlam Trail, forming a “Miami Loop.”

The Miami Loop would connect Miami International Airport to downtown via the scenic working waterfront of the Miami River, would connect to downtown Miami to downtown Kendall via the urbane Underline, would tie into the Ludlam Trail at downtown Kendall north to Miami International Airport via a reconstructed oak hammock and pine rockland. In the process, these projects will tie far more people to the public transit system, too. It will become more than this trail and that trail; it will be a network, one that would improve and better link our neighborhoods, that gives Miamians safer places to walk and ride, and that will make us happier and healthier.

Now THAT’s a Miami we can’t live without.

Architect Mari Chael leads Bike SoMi, is president of the South Miami Neighbors, and is vice-chair of Green Mobility Network.

  • TonyMiami101

    Oh yea Say Yes To Life, and hell no to ROGG!

  • TonyMiami101

    There are things we need, and than there are things we want. We need to save lives with urban bike paths, reduce carbon foot print in our cities, and stop destroying the Everglades. We need air, water, trees, and a future for our families. In 2014 there was only one death going from Naples to Miami. In Miami there was 9 death, and over 900 bike crashes, and in Broward there was 8 deaths, and over 800 crashes, in Lee county there was 8 death, and over 700 bike crashes. Where do you feel we should spend 140 mil dollars….where you want a bike path that will cause more issues to the Everglades, destroy trees, add more problems, or where we need it!
    Stop being a mindless cluster of bike riders. Break away and take the lead be a winner…..this is your life make choices you need, and not because you want.
    Read about thing like the ROGG plan, and ask them why there no Environmental impact being done?
    For the record with your bike clubs present at the Miami Leadership meeting I was the only one the has spoken up for Urban bike path time, and time again. Also I ride 3 times a week in the 400 miles that are there in the Everglades, and no one uses.
    God help us if we do not change.

  • TonyMiami101

    Oh yea Say Yes To Life, and hell no to ROGG!

  • TonyMiami101

    There are things we need, and than there are things we want. We need to save lives with urban bike paths, reduce carbon foot print in our cities, and stop destroying the Everglades. We need air, water, trees, and a future for our families. In 2014 there was only one death going from Naples to Miami. In Miami there was 9 death, and over 900 bike crashes, and in Broward there was 8 deaths, and over 800 crashes, in Lee county there was 8 death, and over 700 bike crashes. Where do you feel we should spend 140 mil dollars….where you want a bike path that will cause more issues to the Everglades, destroy trees, add more problems, or where we need it!
    Stop being a mindless cluster of bike riders. Break away and take the lead be a winner…..this is your life make choices you need, and not because you want.
    Read about thing like the ROGG plan, and ask them why there no Environmental impact being done?
    For the record with your bike clubs present at the Miami Leadership meeting I was the only one the has spoken up for Urban bike path time, and time again. Also I ride 3 times a week in the 400 miles that are there in the Everglades, and no one uses.
    God help us if we do not change.

  • Gladesman

    Too
    bad the $1,000,000 dollars that is funding the study Miami Dade Parks
    and Rec is conducting that will lead to spending $140,000,000 (if not
    opposed/stopped NOW) to make a bike road on Tamiami Trail from Miami to
    Naples called River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) can’t be spent in town
    where their is much ,more intense safety needs for cyclists. The needs
    in town are more critical IMHO due to deaths happening all too often but
    yet thery want to build a bike road that will not only hurt the
    environmenmt but will also hurt motorist safety out there if built as
    per their Jan 2015 plan available somewhere on Miami Dade’s web site via
    googling “miami dade rogg’. Truth in advewrtising I am an opponent to
    ROGG and worked with Walk for Mother Earth fb group that walked across
    the Tamiami Trail in protest to the huge questionable 140,000,000
    expenditure that will destroy habitat, hurt Ingigenous residents that
    live along the road everywhere and endanger motorists plus cause tax
    increases inevitably as per their plan

  • Gladesman

    Too
    bad the $1,000,000 dollars that is funding the study Miami Dade Parks
    and Rec is conducting that will lead to spending $140,000,000 (if not
    opposed/stopped NOW) to make a bike road on Tamiami Trail from Miami to
    Naples called River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) can’t be spent in town
    where their is much ,more intense safety needs for cyclists. The needs
    in town are more critical IMHO due to deaths happening all too often but
    yet thery want to build a bike road that will not only hurt the
    environmenmt but will also hurt motorist safety out there if built as
    per their Jan 2015 plan available somewhere on Miami Dade’s web site via
    googling “miami dade rogg’. Truth in advewrtising I am an opponent to
    ROGG and worked with Walk for Mother Earth fb group that walked across
    the Tamiami Trail in protest to the huge questionable 140,000,000
    expenditure that will destroy habitat, hurt Ingigenous residents that
    live along the road everywhere and endanger motorists plus cause tax
    increases inevitably as per their plan

  • Gladesman

    Too bad the $1,000,000 dollars that is funding the study Miami Dade Parks and Rec is conducting that will lead to spending $140,000,000 (if not opposed/stopped NOW) to make a bike road on Tamiami Trail from Miami to Naples called River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) can’t be spent in town where their is much ,more intense safety needs for cyclists. The needs in town are more critical IMHO due to deaths happening all too often but yet thery want to build a bike road that will not only hurt the environmenmt but will also hurt motorist safety out there if built as per their Jan 2015 plan available somewhere on Miami Dade’s web site via googling “miami dade rogg’. Truth in advewrtising I am an opponent to ROGG and worked with Walk for Mother Earth fb group that walked across the Tamiami Trail in protest to the huge questionable 140,000,000 expenditure that will destroy habitat, hurt Ingigenous residents that live along the road everywhere and endanger motorists plus cause tax increases inevitably as per their plan.

    • Liz

      Thanks for sharing! I had never heard about ROGG before, so we appreciate the insight.

      • Gladesman

        It is difficult for many to understand that although the ROGG program claims a public participation process is in works that very few in Miami Dade or Collier counties know anything about it and the serious permanent environmental impacts the Glades will suffer if it is built. Most that have heard about it assume it is just a nice little bike path and seem shocked when they learn that it is much more than that. One can check out the plan here https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1699867-river-of-grass-greenway-feasibility-study-draft.html and get better resolution by cliking “original document pdf” above and to the right on the page that opens. Quite a sum of construction and development expense for the taxpayers to be billed for when it is possible that inevitably ROGG may have to be removed for road widening on Tamiami Trail or future currently unforeseen unexpected E-Glades Restoration projects.

  • Gladesman

    Too bad the $1,000,000 dollars that is funding the study Miami Dade Parks and Rec is conducting that will lead to spending $140,000,000 (if not opposed/stopped NOW) to make a bike road on Tamiami Trail from Miami to Naples called River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) can’t be spent in town where their is much ,more intense safety needs for cyclists. The needs in town are more critical IMHO due to deaths happening all too often but yet thery want to build a bike road that will not only hurt the environmenmt but will also hurt motorist safety out there if built as per their Jan 2015 plan available somewhere on Miami Dade’s web site via googling “miami dade rogg’. Truth in advewrtising I am an opponent to ROGG and worked with Walk for Mother Earth fb group that walked across the Tamiami Trail in protest to the huge questionable 140,000,000 expenditure that will destroy habitat, hurt Ingigenous residents that live along the road everywhere and endanger motorists plus cause tax increases inevitably as per their plan.

    • Liz

      Thanks for sharing! I had never heard about ROGG before, so we appreciate the insight.

      • Gladesman

        It is difficult for many to understand that although the ROGG program claims a public participation process is in works that very few in Miami Dade or Collier counties know anything about it and the serious permanent environmental impacts the Glades will suffer if it is built. Most that have heard about it assume it is just a nice little bike path and seem shocked when they learn that it is much more than that. One can check out the plan here https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1699867-river-of-grass-greenway-feasibility-study-draft.html and get better resolution by cliking “original document pdf” above and to the right on the page that opens. Quite a sum of construction and development expense for the taxpayers to be billed for when it is possible that inevitably ROGG may have to be removed for road widening on Tamiami Trail or future currently unforeseen unexpected E-Glades Restoration projects.

  • LOVE this!

    • Liz

      Thanks 🙂 Feel free to let us know what you’d like to see more of (or less of), too!

      • I read every day…usually at least one if not 2-3 articles get my attention =)

        • Liz

          Thanks, we appreciate it! We like your posts on FB as well.

  • LOVE this!

    • Liz

      Thanks 🙂 Feel free to let us know what you’d like to see more of (or less of), too!

      • I read every day…usually at least one if not 2-3 articles get my attention =)

        • Liz

          Thanks, we appreciate it! We like your posts on FB as well.

  • Peter Rabbino

    Miami could be an ideal biking city! Great weather and few hills make biking a year round and practical way to get around town. As a community, we just need to raise awareness with citizens and our elected politicians. Thanks Mari for all your hard work on this important quality of life issue.

    • Liz

      Thanks for sharing Peter! We couldn’t agree more- biking in Miami should be a lot easier!

  • Peter Rabbino

    Miami could be an ideal biking city! Great weather and few hills make biking a year round and practical way to get around town. As a community, we just need to raise awareness with citizens and our elected politicians. Thanks Mari for all your hard work on this important quality of life issue.

    • Liz

      Thanks for sharing Peter! We couldn’t agree more- biking in Miami should be a lot easier!

  • Brad Knoefler

    The Baywalk / riverwalk has been a major priority for Downtowners for more than 20 years. Despite simple, easily implementable solutions such as a floating barge / suspended connection from the venetian to museum park or pressuring the Miami Women’s club to dedicate their land on the bay to allow connectivity to Margaret Pace Park, the DDA and District 2 Commissioner have all but ignored this major priority for Downtown residents.

  • Brad Knoefler

    The Baywalk / riverwalk has been a major priority for Downtowners for more than 20 years. Despite simple, easily implementable solutions such as a floating barge / suspended connection from the venetian to museum park or pressuring the Miami Women’s club to dedicate their land on the bay to allow connectivity to Margaret Pace Park, the DDA and District 2 Commissioner have all but ignored this major priority for Downtown residents.

  • DMShelley

    I support both these projects and cannot understand why a person would favor one over the other. It is all connected, as they say.

  • DMShelley

    I support both these projects and cannot understand why a person would favor one over the other. It is all connected, as they say.