With the insertion of two words — "pedestrian'' and "bicycle'' — into Broward County lawbooks, the future has been altered.
Broward County commissioners this month tore up the car-dominated playbook that gave us asphalt raceways dangerous for those on foot. The new "Complete Streets'' laws and policies say roads should be designed for those outside of cars, as well.
Car drivers, that means it's time to share the roadway.
South Florida streets will increasingly incorporate wide bike and walk lanes, medians and even "parklets,'' where on-street parking spots are replaced with cozy spaces for people to sit.
Elements of the Complete Streets movement are already evident here, and now residents can expect to see more of it. Palm Beach County is not far behind.
Complete Streets are roadways designed "to enable safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities, regardless of their mode of transportation,'' the new Broward documents say.
Similar concepts or policy adoptions are also in the works in Davie, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach, Sunrise, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Coconut Creek and Coral Springs, officials in those cities said.
Among the Complete Streets elements:
• Lanes on a diet: Driving lanes would get skinnier in order to make room on the sides for those with pedal power. Bike riders would get an extra buffer of a three-foot, striped lane between automobile traffic and the bicycle path. And the bike path itself might be painted green to clearly distinguish it from the roadway.
• More medians: Pedestrians would have a safe place to stop in case they don't make it all the way across the street before the light changes.
• Don't tread on me: Right-turn lanes, where cars swing around corners just as pedestrians are stepping off the curb to cross, could be eliminated.
• Seeing red: Fort Lauderdale has experimented with "all red" light phases, where pedestrians have freedom to cross the street because cars in all directions have a red light.
Proponents of the national movement, in use in 610 communities across America, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston, say it brings positive change to a community's health, environment, economy and safety.
"The change is going to take time. Nothing happens all at once,'' said Greg Stuart, head of Broward's Metropolitan Planning Organization, a transportation planning agency. "But the culture is going to change.''
Parklets and more
Though South Florida regularly shows up on lists of the most dangerous terroritories for those on foot or bicycle, Fort Lauderdale has recently become a leader in the movement to turn that around.
In August, the city agreed to try out "parklets.''
Parklets are small pedestrian havens created by restaurant or shop owners, who are allowed to take over parking spaces in front of their businesses. With the addition of couches and a potted plant, for example, a parking spot is transformed.
On Wednesday, Gran Forno on Las Olas Boulevard submitted the first permit for a parklet, City Manager Lee Feldman said.
The bakery will pay the city $650 for each of the two parking spaces. The owner has said he hopes the pedestrian pocket park will slow traffic.