On July 15, 2010, Mike Lasche Legislative Chairman Florida Bicycle Association met with Aaron Nevins, the aide to Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, whose district 91 includes coastal areas of Palm Beach and Broward County. He explained to Lasche that they are interested in removing the bike lanes from approximately a mile of A1A, where it runs in front of Birch State Park, from Sunrise Boulevard north to where the beach high-rises begin again. The purpose of this would be to reduce the roadway width by 10 feet and add 10 feet to the sidewalk which will become the future Barrier Island Greenway. Nevins said that this would benefit sidewalk cyclists whom they feel exist in larger numbers at that location.
During the conversation, Lasche asked Nevins about the recently passed HB 971, the bill which requires cyclists to mandatorily stay in the bike lane if one is provided. Nevins stated that Rep. Bogdanoff had been the legislator who inserted this language in HB 971, a bill whose language was kept secret from public view until the final days of the Legislature. Nevins said that Bogdanoff had inserted this language because a local safety activist, Jim Smith, had asked for it. Also, because the Sun-Sentinel had run two editorials against bike lanes on A1A. Also, because there had been some problems and incidents with pack cyclists on A1A impeding motorists. He also explained that another motive for HB 971 was that “it’s a chess game to see if bicyclists will still want to keep the bike lanes on A1A.” Cyclists have to decide “if they like bike lanes or not.”
During this conversation, Nevins said that he thought that bike lanes would arise in next year’s legislature. In a prior conversation, he suggested that Rep. Bogdanoff would work to change the state’s laws that require bicycle facilities within one mile of an urban area so that they could have “flexibility with bike lanes on A1A.”
So, in a nutshell, Bogdanoff wants a wider sidewalk on a 1 mile stretch of A1A. In order to do that, she would like to remove the bike lanes. To make that happen, she introduced the mandatory lane language in HB 971 so that cyclists would hate the bike lane and go along with removing them. And, they are considering an attack on the state law which requires bicycle facilities on roads throughout the whole state of Florida…….all for one mile of wide sidewalk. Decades of progress and Florida’s bicycle future may be harmed, just to get one mile of wider sidewalk in Ft. Lauderdale.
What should be noted is that the original plans for the reconstruction of A1A included wide sidewalks on both sides but some local businesspeople objected to that, demanded that parking be placed on both sides of the road, not just the ocean side. In order to make this happen, the sidewalk widths were sacrificed. It should also be mentioned that the simple answer to widening the sidewalk is simply to widen it. The land to the east is publicly owned and some of the current sidewalk, around the shower facilities, already extends to a wider width.
All of this trouble stems from the idea that the bike lanes should be removed on A1A, in front of Birch State Park. If that was not an option, Bogdanoff would not have brought us HB 971 and would not want to change existing law which requires bicycle facilities on urban roads. So, we need to nip all of this in the bud. We need to make it clear that removal of the bike lanes is not an option.
So, here is what Lasche is asking you to do.
Please send an email to Rep. Bogdanoff at [email protected] and ask her to stop trying to remove any of the bike lanes on A1A. Ask her to make a public statement indicating that she will no longer try to remove these bike lanes. At the same time, ask her to work to repeal the mandatory bicycle lane law language of HB 971.
Or, you may call her office at 954-762-3757. If you wish to use postal mail, the address is 1421 S. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316-1839.
Please be polite but clear. No anger is needed or useful.
Much more importantly, many of you have access to email addresses of groups of cycling supporters. Ask these groups to express the same sentiment. Let’s rain hundreds or thousands of emails on Rep. Bogdanoff, letting her know that taking away bike lanes is a bad idea.
Finally, let me mention that Rep. Bogdanoff is now in an election, trying to become Senator Bogdanoff, with opposition in the primary and general election. Thus, I expect that she will be very receptive to our concerns.
As a Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney I can not stress the importance of this lane closure enough. If you have any questions or concerns about this, do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or Mike Lasche at [email protected]