Cars Retake Their Place on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach

Ocean Drive in South Beach is the site of an ongoing pilot project in making space for pedestrians and businesses in space previously devoted to cars. Advocates and some local politicians don't like the direction that the experiment is headed.

1 minute read

July 13, 2020, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Ocean Drive Open Streets

Ocean Drive in Miami Beach on May 30, 2020. | Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

"For nearly eight weeks, a sliver of South Beach belonged to the people," writes Martin Vassolo. "There were no cars allowed on a 10-block stretch of Ocean Drive, the popular seaside promenade, giving bicyclists, skateboarders, joggers and walkers a space to exercise away from cramped sidewalks and congested roads."

Now that has changed, however, after the city returned cars to the northbound lanes on Ocean Drive over the 4th of July weekend, while retaining the southbound lanes for pedestrians and outdoor dining, in what promises to be an ongoing experiment in reconfiguring the public realm in response to ongoing crises of public health and the local economy.

"Mayor Dan Gelber said the street’s new configuration will not be permanent, calling it a 'two-week pilot' program," according to Vassolo. "Ideally, he said, the city should be able to fully pedestrianize the street during certain periods, and open it to cars the rest of the time."

Activists, however, are still pushing back on the decision to allow cars back onto the street. "Activists aren’t the only ones perplexed by the city’s decision to reopen Ocean Drive. Commissioners Ricky Arriola and Mark Samuelian, who supported the closure of the street, said on Friday they were not consulted about the plan," reports Vassolo.

Additional coverage of the ongoing Ocean Drive saga is available from Joshua Ceballos.

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