Wilton Manors has long been working to make the city friendlier to bicyclists and pedestrians, and an overhaul of 26th Street east of Five Points is a key part of the plan.
City commissioners were updated on the plan during their Aug. 22 meeting -- and were very unhappy with the proposal’s current incarnation.
The project’s goals are to calm traffic, make the street more ADA accessible, and make it better for bicyclists. Commissioners say the plan does the opposite.
Sidewalks are being extended from 5 to 7 feet, which sounds like a good thing for bikers. However, this comes into conflict with the city’s beautification goals. Shade trees will go in along the route and will “pinch” the sidewalk to just 4 feet. Essentially, there would be less room to get by than there is now.
“The whole point was to make it safer for bikers and pedestrians and I don’t think that this does that,” Commissioner Chris Caputo, himself an avid bicyclist, weighed in.
Vice Mayor Bracchi, who lives in the area, said he believes most bikers will use bike lanes, but still doesn’t understand the frequency of “pinch points.”
“It just absolutely makes no sense to me,” he said.
Caputo and members of the public pointed out that many, if not most, bikers use the sidewalk, and the current plan would make it harder to navigate not only the narrow points but also to anticipate what they can’t see due to the trees.
On the upside, a crosswalk has been added to the design making it safer to cross the street. This is in anticipation of a mixed-use development going up in the plaza where Holy Mackerel sits. A deal on that property recently fell through.
Once the project begins, it should take about seven months to complete.