Politics: Distant Early Warning

Useful Idiots, the T&P Committee, the Demise of ART— And Kicking Parking Off Alton!

By Jeffrey Bradley

Anjem Choudary, the British Muslim imam who advocates sharia law for Britain says the royal wedding in London April 29 is a likely target for a terrorist attack. Choudary, an orthodox Muslim, has repeatedly and publicly justified Koran injunctions that “infidels,” meaning anyone who is not a Muslim, must die.

Once again, Islam proving itself “the Religion of Peace”.

Does this make the preacher who burned the Koran a patriot? Why do Moslems get an ethical pass when fanatics like these rampage over perceived slights? Apparently, burning American flags and bibles is admirable if done by anti-war activists or their like. But be careful what you say about the Koran lest Achmed in Peshawar hears you and stones his wife in outrage or bombs innocent bystanders.

This odious collectivist taming by the edicts of political correctness demands rebuke. As a “progressive dialogue” this is dangerous because its adherents believe what they say. Napoleon once observed that if you’re going to take Vienna, then take Vienna. If we are to be a superpower then we must act like one. Those who blame America first serve only as useful idiots to zealots.

Like Nog, the white heron, of stilty leg and snakish neck, forever prowling our neighborhood on the lookout for beasty feasts over the verges and swales, it’s better to move deliberately, stately and solemn, while remaining alert.

Which segue brings us to transit (segues most always bring us to transit). We have in our possession—via the 17th Street Irregulars (our band of straphangers, bus stop habitués and anti-car-centrists)—two pieces of information that should make everyone rejoice awaiting the overthrow of the Rule of the Auto (aka the Dermerite Suburbanite Autocentric Mentality) here on the Beach: Indian Creek’s bicycle lanes (never in the plans) will no doubt be striped during repaving and, also, that Alton Road is destined to lose 90 parking spaces.

FDOT, the Florida Department of Transportation, specifically District 6, which covers Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, while not flat-out saying so (you know public figures; they say nothing today they can’t retract tomorrow… the term being, we believe, wishy-washy), has shaken off its biking-antipathy and seen the light.

They’ve inexplicably done a volte face and decided to follow Statue 216.335.065 (after previously maintaining “it didn’t apply”) that clearly spells out in Title XXVI of the STATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM that “along state roads and transportation facilities”—(1)(a):Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration [and] bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.

Notice that “shall be”? (We underlined it for you, Gertrude.) That means, once you wade through the verbiage, we’re bound to do it.

Now, none of this is a done deal. FDOT needs another consultant report—Good Ford!—and  Commissioner Jerry Libbin’s only going to float the striping idea at the next commission meeting. (Details remain sketchy, but it appears the commissioner definitely had a positive hand in guiding things.)

And, the plans removing some Alton Road parking spaces are only “60 percent” complete, but at least it’s moving off-center and in the right direction.

Yet while FDOT seems poised to land on its feet, and even Commissioner Libbin—who once infamously said that “it’s all about the parking”—may actually be ready to assume the this commissioner gets transit mantle, strangely, our own old stomping grounds, the Transportation and Parking Committee managed, again, to, unfortunately, miss the bus. The Irregulars report that when the suddenly bicycle-friendly FDOT brought plans before that august if toothless body (by that we mean this committee’s suggestions are routinely brushed aside by the administration as not coming from a power board) to eliminate ninety—count ‘em, 90—parking spaces on Alton, the place went into a tizzy. Which reaction is all the more incomprehensible when a little digging would’ve revealed that property owners actually affected welcome waiving their onerous, expensive parking requirements—provided there is reliable alternative transportation available.

Can anyone say “streetcars”?

Don’t get us started. And if more proofs of the perils of autocentric adventurism are needed in this heavily-pedestrianized area, add this to the list (from Miami Transit’s blog: Miami Beach Police Department Can Do More For Cyclists ) about a bicyclist rear-ended by an SUV at a South Beach red light:

The woman paused to ask if I was ok- when I told her that I was fine but my bike was damaged she said ‘sorry’ and continued to turn north on West Avenue and drove away. I was shocked that she left the scene of the accident for which she was at fault. I called the police and filled out a report (including eye-witness information) with an obstinate police officer (to put it kindly) who basically told me that I could fill out a report but nothing could be done about it.”

She reiterated, “The cop made it clear that nothing would be done about it…”

No doubt that motorist had a cellphone screwed in her ear. But the kicker is the bit concerning our highly-paid, do-nothing (note the word obstinate) police force. For a bunch who sure make sure we know how much they do come negotiating time—the subtext: a thinly-veiled threat to strike, that most vile union tactic—there’s an awful lot they can’t do. (A short list besides nabbing motorists who hit bicyclists includes finding vicious dogs that wander the neighborhood attacking people, and throwing bums off the boardwalk).

Maybe the Transportation and Parking Committee would be better off renaming itself the Parking and, oh yeah!, Transportation Committee.

Sadder still to learn of the demise of ART, the Alliance for Reliable Transport. This group of community-based transit aficionados was of immense utility in moving forward alternate transit, notably BayLink and other tracked projects. We ourselves witnessed the roar of the greasepaint at many a contentious commission meeting as ART pushed forward good works despite intense and obtuse opposition. The group was invaluable, and we’ll miss it.

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