MIAMI, Fla. – The Dutch are invading Miami, and not for reasons you may think. Bike-planning experts from the Netherlands have been flown into the city to help turn the virtually unused M-Path into a dazzling, 10-mile-long bikeway.
The M-Path runs past the University of Miami and through some of the most exciting neighborhoods in the city. Sitting unused for the last 30 years, the path screams its potential from its cracked blacktop.
According to Erik Tetteroo with the Dutch Cycling Embassy, the path has “little cohesion” and “most street crossings are not safe.” Both are elements that must be improved in order to turn the path into a stunning bikeway that cyclists will be willing to use with regularity.
County and municipal planners, along with elected officials and a group of advocates, have circled around the idea. The plan is to turn the beaten M-Path into The Underline; a lush, alluring landscape dotted with playgrounds and gardens, linking parks, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
By turning the path into a pedestrian and bike network, it will be safer for cyclists to ride throughout the city. It will also give commuters the opportunity to walk or bike to work, relieve some of the congestion on the U.S. 1 corridor.
The project will see funding pour in from South Miami, Miami, and the Gables. Other contributors would include the Miami Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Mitchell Wolfson Foundation, and the Health Foundation of South Florida. Several architects have bid for the project, and the winning design firm will be announced on February 2.
Tetteroo and his Dutch colleagues are quick to point out the major advantage of the new path: safety. Cyclists will be physically separated from motor vehicles, ensuring safe passage throughout the city. Cyclists of all ages will have a safe, exciting place to ride for recreation, and those who choose to use bicycles for commuting will get where they need to be without the hassle and danger of fighting traffic.
While some may be slow to catch on to the idea of biking instead of driving, advocates point out that momentum should pick up quickly. When commuters stuck in traffic look out their windows to see cyclists gliding past, many will be ditching four wheels in favor of two.