Miami Beach

Bal Harbour

Bal Harbour council discusses bike rental program

 

Special to the Miami Herald

The Bal Harbour Village Council revisited a discussion at its April 9 meeting about implementing a bike rental program for the city, but no action was taken.

At their regular meeting, council members discussed the possibility of adding the program, making it available for visitors and residents. The village has a law that prohibits bike riding on the sidewalks, but it isn’t strictly enforced. Plus, state law doesn’t prohibit bicycles on the sidewalks, said Police Chief Mark Overton in a phone interview. Bike riding is permitted on the village’s beach bike path.

Nearby cities like Surfside, Bay Harbour Islands and Miami Beach now provide bike rentals through DecoBike, a private company. The service will soon expand into the city of Miami.

Village Manager Jorge Gonzalez, a former Miami Beach manager, was instrumental in bringing the concept to Miami Beach back in 2011.

Councilwoman Patricia Cohen presented the idea to council members last month.

“The premise of this company is transportation,” Cohen said in phone interview. “We are linked. We are at the northern tip of the beach. People will be able to ride from South Beach to Haulover and enjoy what Bal Harbour has to offer.”

If the plan were to be approved by the council, Gonzalez said he would suggest two stations with 10 bikes each.

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort presently offers bike rentals for its guests.

Resident Brian Mulheren said bicyclists on Bal Harbour’s sidewalks are dangerous because the sidewalks aren’t wide enough.

“I’ve almost been hit,” he said at the meeting. “Most of the people riding the bikes are tourists. We don’t know who they are or they don’t know where they are riding. The professionals ride on the streets and have no problems.”

Gonzalez said previously that data in Miami Beach showed the bikes there were used more by residents than visitors.

Resident Alex De Leon, who rents bikes from the Surfside station about three times a week, says it would be beneficial on many levels to add the stations.

“We have to go running to get the ones in Surfside,” he said. “It’s great for exercise and errands and you get to see the city more.”

Councilman Jaime Sanz said approving the stations could lead to issues and the council needs to think of the residents.

“I think there will be turmoil,” he said.

Although the idea was pushed to the side for now, Cohen said she will research more on the benefits and raise awareness on the health and environmental pluses it could offer.

“Lets embrace change,” she said at the meeting. “It’s a plus to be linked to Miami Beach. It links us to other communities. It’s a hip thing to do all over the world.”

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