On Thursday, the commissioners of the City of Miami passed a resolution supporting a biking and walking trail component to the All Aboard Florida high-speed rail line plan.
Miami now joins a groundswell of communities standing up and saying loudly that the rail project has the potential to transform Florida's transportation system for the better—but only if it includes a parallel rail-with-trail pathway for biking and walking.
(MIAMI RESIDENTS: If you haven't already, be sure to take this quick action to tell Mayor Tomás Regalado to sign the commission's resolution!)
In recent months, the Miami Downtown Development Authority, Village of El Portal and Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee have all taken formal steps to secure the biking and walking plans in place for their communities, and to make sure All Aboard Florida maximizes its potential by including a rail-with-trail. Additional resolutions from other local governments are expected to be passed soon.
"Trails and active-transportation facilities provide a choice of transportation modes while reducing demand and maintenance on the state's highways and local road systems," the City of Miami resolution reads. We agree.
Pathways alongside active rail lines have been proven to not only give people mobility options but also to improve the capacity and functioning of the rail service itself. A rail-with-trail incorporated into All Aboard Florida will cut down on traffic by getting people to and from stations without having to drive, boost property values in nearby communities and offset a number of environmental and social impacts.
Rails-with-trails are safer than riding next to a roadway and are proven community improvements. These days, modern and efficient rail transit projects are being built intentionally with bike and pedestrian access in mind, and rails-with-trails of this kind are becoming popular solutions to reducing congestion and improving safety for people moving across and along the corridor.
Why this issue is especially pressing for a number of communities is that they've already made plans for biking and walking trails along the All Aboard Florida corridor.
If All Aboard Florida doesn't allow for an adjacent rail-with-trail, it will be trampling over the local ambitions these places have been working toward for a number of years.
The high-speed rail plan must recognize the importance of a balance of modes. Complementing the train service with an active-transportation pathway is an efficient and effective use of the corridor, and will serve a massive cross section of the community.
Over the coming months, RTC is making sure the people of southeast Florida have a voice in this important discussion. The Florida Campaign is sending messages of encouragement to decision makers to include a rail-with-trail in the plan. Add your name to the list to make sure you have your say in decisions that could change the landscape of Florida for generations to come.