It’s nearly a week now since I penned a somewhat, semi-formal letter to multiple local municipal mayors as well as a representative for the local/regional streets and roads maintenance program. I’ll attach. It was, what I thought to be, a rather simple request to an annoying if not outright dangerous problem. Heavily traveled local roads result in an unbelievable amount of trash deposited in the shoulder areas; or in many cases the designated bicycle lanes.
Given the emphasis the state, and particularly my county, Broward, put on outdoors recreation, including cycling, I am disappointed, yet not shocked, to not receive a single reply to my request. In fact, I’ve not even received an acknowledgment. Disappointing. At any rate, here’s the plea:
——— Original Message ———
Subject: Broward Bike Lanes
Date: 4/15/17 1:11 pm
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Mayor_Ross@CooperCityFL.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Barbara.Kelleher@dot.myflorida.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 15, 2017
The Honorable Mayors of
(Several South Broward Communities)
The Honorable Mayor of
Broward County and
The PIO of FDOT District 4
Dear Mayors and Ms. Kelleher;
One of the things I was looking forward to upon my recent move to South Florida was the ability to bicycle the many miles of smooth roads, bike lanes and even paved trails. As a middle-age male I was excited about the opportunity to continue focusing on my health year-round in my soon-to-be new state. After several months what I’ve found has been a decidedly mixed bag of enjoyment, sheer terror, exasperation and unexpected expense.
Multiple State of Florida websites, as well as local/regional bicycle advocacy sites, tout the benefits of cycling in Florida; and in some cases specifically South Florida. In fact, Governor Scott is given credit for proclaiming March as Bike Month in Florida. http://www.broward.org/Parks/ThingsToDo/Documents/Florida%20Bicycle%20Month-%20Governor%20Rick%20Scott.pdf
. Of note, several of the sites discuss the importance of bike safety both from the perspective of cyclists as well as motorists as follows: http://www.alerttodayflorida.com
Given the many avenues of publicly available State and Local support for cycling I’ve been frustrated with the on-the-ground reality of cycling in South Florida. Uninformed, careless and simply rude drivers have led to multiple rounds of terror but that’s an entirely different branch of discussion. For now I want to focus solely on the source of my frustration: trash.
That’s right, trash. It seems something of an accomplishment to cover a couple city blocks worth of bike lanes without finding an assortment of hazards lurking, waiting for the opportunity to strike and pop yet another tube and in some cases even tear through tires. Every couple of miles the lane-devils up their game and throw branches, car parts, big chunks of sod and the occasional piece of furniture at us. In the seven states in which I’ve lived I’ve never seen roadways littered with so many obstacles for cyclists. I’ve had more tubes pop in the months I’ve lived in South Florida than in all my previous 5-6 years of riding combined.
Initially I attempted to navigate the wonderful horse trails but quickly gave up. Beautiful parks and crazy big homes were a draw to cover every block of the asphalt multi-use trails. Those clear positives melted away as I learned almost no sections are wide enough for an emergency vehicle (standard width per a state with world class trails per state codes: http://www.iowadot.gov/iowabikes/trails/chpt04-3.html)
. As such they’re not wide enough for two skinny-tire bikes so they’re of no value for a social ride with my spouse let alone a small group of my newly found cycling buddies for a workout. In addition, after riding most of the trails I determined I could never again ride them with a standard skinny tire bicycle. The heaving cracks, holes and sometimes tree-sized roots were jarring for me and unhealthy for the bike. The trails will remain a tremendous resource for running my dog and the times I want to drag out a fatter-tire bike but they’re clearly not of the rails-to-trails standards needed for road bikes. Which brings me back to the roadway bike lanes……..
I said the sheer-terror part of my bike-lane emotions would be reserved for another space and it will. Mostly. Since the (awesome) horse trails are not an option we turn to the wonderful miles of bike lanes here in Broward to chase our dreams of dropping that final three pounds and establishing social connections that we hope will lead to long-term friendships. Except when the trash in the lanes is so obnoxious (see above) we’re forced out into the auto traffic lanes full of vehicles that seem oblivious to any sense of speed limits. While off road/trail riders may grin at the sight of a six foot branch, porch door, car tire or office chair in their path, we skinny tire riders have little choice but to swerve and take our chances with traffic. My guess is few members of the road maintenance teams, politicians or other proponents of the benefits of road cycling in South Florida actually ride a bike either on the trails or the bike-lane equipped roadways. If they did my comments would be obsolete. Where I grew up it was common to say the local Council members were always the first to have their roads cleared of snow after every snowfall; regardless of conditions or cost; they had clean streets in their immediate neighborhoods.
My ask is how to go about filling a form or making a request to the appropriate resources who have the ability to clear out our bike lanes in Broward. My newfound cycling pals have stated they have contacted multiple agencies over time—-towns and County—clearly to no avail. I’m happy to comply with whatever medium is necessary to make the requests. Even if it means separate requests for each jurisdiction. Thank you for your time and understanding and perhaps someday we’ll see you out in the lanes!
I attempted to be somewhat casual yet explanatory. Direct yet not offensive. Concise yet complete. Clearly I missed on several fronts. I plan to give it three-four more days before chasing down some sort of followup, whatever that might be. I just want to ride my bike safely.