JUAN PABLO GARNHAM
Mar 10, 2017
The Rickenbacker Causeway makes an apt symbol for Miami’s potential as a city for bike enthusiasts. On the weekends, crowds of cyclists take advantage of the good weather to pedal across the five-mile-long bridge, which boasts idyllic views of the skyscrapers downtown, the islands of Biscayne Bay, and boats sailing to the Atlantic. But, at the same time, the causeway has seen the deaths of at least three cyclists since 2010.
Soon, though, this scenic-but-dangerous thoroughfare could be a symbol of safety and an icon for the cyclists of Miami. Plan Z, a project headed by the architect Bernard Zyscovich, would connect Miami with Key Biscayne via a winding elevated bicycle path, allowing riders to pedal over the cars below, similar to the famous Copenhagen Snake.
Miami is not known as a bicycle-friendly city: It’s listed as the fourth most dangerous city to bike in the U.S.; between 2010 and 2014, 47 people were killed cycling through the city. Florida is the state with most cyclist fatalities per capita in United States (the situation is just as bleak for pedestrians).
Zyscovich thinks that Plan Z can kickstart a cultural change in the city. The project could join two other proposed infrastructure projects, a linear park called the Underline and the Ludlam Trail, a rails-to-trail multi-use path. “I think that what we are presenting is a concept large enough to contribute to creating a network,” the architect says. “If we can implement Plan Z, the Underline, and the Ludlam Trail, we are going to have thousands of users that will then become the advocacy group to demand more bicycle infrastructure.”
Can such a signature megaproject change the mentality of a place that has for decades prioritized the use of cars? Danish mobility consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen, who was recently in Miami for the launch of Plan Z, says that the city can definitely improve its relationship with bicycling, as others in the U.S. have done. But the change might not depend on something as big and oriented to recreational use as Plan Z.