Advocates Want a Permanent Car-Free Zone on Ocean Drive in South Beach, Florida (FL)
MIAMI, FL- The miaminewtimes.com writes that in May, Ocean Drive became a pedestrian-only zone as part of a temporary experiment. Cars were prohibited on the ten-block stretch as a part of a plan to promote social distancing and to allow extra outdoor seating during the pandemic. Barricades stood in the way to ensure that only pedestrians, skaters, and cyclists were entering the road from Fifth Street through 15th Street.*
One local said that closing the road to vehicle traffic made Ocean Drive family-friendly and that she and her children went to cycle and enjoy the parks because they felt safe to do so. Prior to the closures, she stated her children had never spent much time in the area.
The city then opened a lane to traffic, in a move that many oppose. When the city blocked vehicles, residents felt that the move was a positive one that improved pedestrian safety.
Some businesses on the road, however, moved to have the one-lane opened and to allow valet parking on local side streets.
One commissioner complained that the city stopped the closure, which should have been left in place and studied as a pilot program and called the reopening ill-conceived.
There are also businesses that appreciated the pedestrian traffic in the area and stated that it gave them a boost when they were struggling because of the coronavirus. When the street opened to cars, one bar owner stated that they saw a sharp decline in daily earnings.
However, others feel that the lack of valets is causing a drop in tourist traffic. These critics stated that the area is not one that has ever been popular with locals but rather is a tourist destination.
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