Spring Break Crowds, Shoot Reignite Car Debate on Ocean Drive

Spring break on Ocean Drive was lit: Local10 reporter Ian Margol was photobombed through a few twerking tails and the historic beach walkway biggest crowds so far this year

But after three people were hospitalized after a shooting on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach cops on a golf cart were hit by a white convertible and droves of drunken pedestrians has reclaimed the lane for vehicles on Ocean Drive last weekend residents again debate whether cars should be on the busy party street.

“It felt like a war zone. The police were the military trying to hold their territory, and their territory kept the street open to cars,” said Matthew Gultanoff, founder of Better Streets Miami Beachtells New times. “Their strategy is that keeping the street open to cars will somehow make it safer by allowing less gatherings and parties. But they were like Moses trying to part the Red Sea, and it failed.”

In previous years, Gultanoff explains, the city of Miami Beach has barricaded Ocean Drive to cars to accommodate the influx of tourists to the area during spring break. That didn’t happen this year.

“On several nights, pedestrians organically took to the streets, took over and made it pedestrianized,” he says. “That’s the natural feel of the street, and how it’s meant to be.”

Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez confirmed that New times that “a section of Ocean Drive was temporarily restricted Friday night because the significant overflow from the beach to the street created a safety problem. It was later reopened.”

After being closed to cars for nearly two years during the pandemic, a southbound lane of Ocean Drive between 5th and 13th Street was reopened to cars in late January this year. The northbound lane and street parking were converted to a bike lane, along with a barrier of striped “armadillos”.

But that in no way resolved the debate over whether cars are the problem or the solution to the uproar and growing public safety concerns on that stretch of South Beach. Residents remain stubbornly divided over what to do and took to the Miami Beach Community Facebook group this weekend to voice their grievances.

Proponents of keeping Ocean Drive car-free argue that it takes a chaotic variable out of the mix and makes the area safer and more pleasant for pedestrians.

“I’ve never understood why a motorway would stop the madness in the first place. It certainly causes more accidents,” wrote one resident.

“Whose clever idea was it to add car traffic to an already chaotic atmosphere?” wrote another.

Meanwhile, those who oppose the pedestrianization of Ocean Drive point out that the policy not only redirects drivers to more residential areas of South Beach, but it also makes the hotels, restaurants and bars on that lot less accessible to customers.

“And the cars and the craziness moved into the residential area. Thank you so much for more failed policies,” another person complained. “One lane is not a reopening. Useless bike paths right next to a better place to cycle was not a reopening.”

Also, city officials can’t agree on what to do.

“I do believe that closing the street was a mistake because we didn’t have a plan, and that lack of a plan allowed people to just gather in the middle of the street,” Miami Beach City commissioner David Richardson told NBC6 at the time. the motorway reopened at the end of January.

However, Miami Beach City commissioner Mark Samuelian continues to push for the street to be more walkable.

“The pedestrian segment of Ocean Drive is truly inspiring, while vehicle behavior remains a concern,” he posted on Facebook last Wednesday. “As an advocate for #PeopleNotCars, I will continue to advocate for further pedestrianization. The #QualityOfLife and safety of our residents and visitors are of the utmost importance to me.”

Gultanoff, a South Beach native who cycles with his 4- and 6-year-olds, tweet examples of cars driving on designated bike lanes† He calls it ‘a recipe for disaster’.

“On Monday mornings I always see new tire tracks on Ocean Drive from [drivers] trying to do burnouts,” he says. “Although they can only move 2 mph most nights, people are definitely showing off in their cars and it’s only a matter of time before a car drives into a few thousand people and we have disaster on our hands.”

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