Miami can become a walkable city with miles of protected bikes lanes, here’s how

Opportunity Miami
Opportunity Miami
Published in
5 min readMay 20, 2022


By: Carlos Cruz-Casas, Chief Innovation Officer of the Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transportation & Public Works, Office of Innovation and Mobility Services

While at a professional conference, an industry roundtable, or even at dinner with my closest friends, I am often asked, can we really achieve carbon-free mobility in Miami? My answer is always the same: Yes.

However, it will not happen by coincidence. We must take a series of intentional measures to help move us in that direction. These deliberate actions need to be centered in the creation of better infrastructure for people walking and biking as well as the adoption of sound policies prioritizing safety above speed.

There is no doubt that a well-run transit system will play a vital role in achieving carbon-free mobility. Transit as we know it (trains, buses, and trolleys) is great for grouping people together who are traveling in the same general direction at the same time, ultimately reducing the physical and carbon footprint of each rider. As we continue to move to electric fleets, we will see how the benefits of space will amplify the benefits of zero emissions.

Transit is also the smaller vehicle providing dynamic routing services for less dense areas. Miami-Dade’s GO Connect program is one example of supporting short trips through on-demand shared rides. Another mode that is not talked about enough is the paratransit program, which provides transportation for those with disabilities. While these two programs are not yet providing trips with zero-emission vehicles, they present a great opportunity for us to move towards carbon-free mobility.

I often hear conversations about achieving our zero emission goals by just getting everyone into an electric car. Electric cars are part of the solution but will not be the sole transportation mode responsible for getting us to carbon-free mobility. A few weeks ago, I read an article about Norway’s incredible success in introducing electric vehicles as they near the end of EV sales in 2025. However, even a nation as successful as them has the same problem as we do. We both need to go beyondthinking about transitioning to EVs and start thinking about getting more people on buses, trains and active modes of transportation.

It’s not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with cars. In fact, the car is not the villain of this story, but rather the use that we give it. There is certainly a future in which we accommodate the use of single occupancy vehicles and augment its utilization through carpool or car-sharing programs. These are two different programs that serve different purposes but ultimately increase the utilization of cars.

While we should continue to focus on increasing EV adoption in Miami-Dade, many of the same trips could very well be served by eBikes and eCargoBikes. In particular the delivery of goods could greatly benefit from making the switch. It will not be long before restaurants and delivery services realize that it is significantly cheaper, and better for the environment, to deliver two tacos and guacamole with an eBike than it is with a 4,500-pound car.

Bikes, eBikes, and eScooters can also help commuters get to and from work as well as virtually any other short trip. Last week I visited Columbus OH, where I was able to move solely by transit and eBikes. I really enjoyed the freedom provided by the combination of these two modes.

We know that bikes can play a big role and we know that having options for moving around can increase overall mobility. So, what’s missing? We must build better infrastructure and adopt better policies.

Over the last year, the County built a small network of protected bike lanes in Downtown Miami and enhanced the connection between Miami and Miami Beach by adding separation devices to protect riders in the regular bike lane. However, it is clear that we must build more. We also need more dedicated parking for both shared and personally-owned micromobility devices. I love when I see personal scooters locked to SwiftMile docks at the Brightline Station, it is the clearest proof that we are achieving a mode shift.

Better infrastructure is great but we also need policies that match the intent. We need slower streets and we need to walk away from the vehicular LOS (Level of Service) methodology, the standard by which states measure the transportation impacts on our roads. The LOS methodology is too car-centric and does not surface the need for accommodating other modes of travel like walking or riding a bike. Transportation for America recently published an article on how our solutions for congestions are worse, which is the result of relying solely on LOS methodology.

(Image courtesy of Transportation for America)

Rethinking how we measure the effectiveness of a road can make a big difference when trying to have more of our friends and neighbors riding a bicycle. Another policy worth exploring is to incentivize the use of micromobility devices, as when combined with the right infrastructure rewards programs can really move the needle to obtain higher adoption.

The unspoken hero of carbon-free mobility is our own two feet. Walkable neighborhoods are key for winning this battle. The right infrastructure, combined with the right mix of land-use can help reduce trip distances, which increases the number of options to move efficiently. We see great examples with major cities like Paris and Barcelona moving to the 15-min city or the superblocks. These concepts provide a great opportunity to become more equitable as it has been proven that great sidewalk infrastructure in a walkable city provides benefits for our neighbors, friends and people with a visual impairment. Walkable cities also provide easier and more direct access to nearby places and services.

I am optimistic that under the current administration we will see a shift towards a more balanced mobility ecosystem and a heightened desire to provide the right infrastructure for safe and comfortable trips for all modes. The future of Miami-Dade is bright. I hope you join the conversation and become part of the solution. Miami-Dade can and will be an emissions-free city.