A historic $20 million investment is re-imagining Coral Gables’ main street with extra wide sidewalks, rows of trees, and parallel parking. Economic studies across the country show that these reconstructions can have a 20% boost to the business of local shops and restaurants. If done right, smart cities can create streets that invite all users to ride, walk or drive there.
▪ San Francisco’s Valencia Street; 2/3 of merchants said that new bike lanes had a positive impact on business.
▪ Studies in Toronto and Portland showed that cyclists spent more money per month than those who drove there.
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▪ In New York, a study by the Department of Transportation found that 20 blocks of Columbus Avenue that received a protected bike lane saw sales increase 20% over two years, while adjacent sections of Columbus that didn’t get a bike lane saw sales increase by only 9%.
▪ In Memphis Tennessee, bike lanes revitalized the city’s Broad Avenue Arts District.
▪ And here in Coral Gables, monthly bike tours and annual Gables Bike Day pump thousands of dollars into local restaurants on their slowest day of the week.
While others see how allowing people to bike to their front door is important to business, the Gables City Commission has never voted on the issue of including bike lanes in the Miracle Mile redesign and the plan is going forward without them.
A recent local survey had 84% of respondents supporting bike lanes. If those voices aren’t enough, our mayor and commission should listen to the experts they hired to produce the city’s Bicycle Master Plan; a plan passed unanimously by the commission. The experts that told them to put a path that pedestrians and cyclists could share.
If the Gables wants to be a city of the 21st Century, then it needs to make the investments that increase economic activity in the area, that promote health and wellness and reduce our reliance on the automobile. In the 1950’s when Miracle Mile was born, bike lanes on the street would have been visionary and bold. Today, it’s practical and necessary.
Robert Ruano, Coral Gables
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