Latest Ocean Drive Plan Would Eliminate Sidewalk Cafe Obstacle Course
Walking down the western sidewalk of Ocean Drive isn't so much a leisurely stroll as it is a maneuver through the middle of a never-ending string of crowded restaurants.
Photo: Chris Goldberg | MNT Flickr Pool
That's why Miami Beach commissioners are considering a way to eliminate the cramped atmosphere while preserving the strip's cafe culture. According to Miami Today, the latest plan calls for widening the sidewalk to 21.5 feet from 14.5 feet and limiting outside tables to the first 10 feet. Though, this would mean knocking two feet off of Lummus Park and narrowing the traffic lanes.
Miami Beach Commissioners have been batting around ideas on how to make Ocean Drive more walkable for months now. Proposals have included turning it into a pedestrian-only road, leaving just a single one-way lane open to facilitate dropping off tourists at hotels, eliminating some parking or expanding the roadway into Lummus Park.
As it stands now, walking through the road is like a tropical urban obstacle course. You have to contend with people pushing menus and flyers at you, waiter carrying food, and trying not to roll your eyes at those tourists ordering those extra-large rip-off margaritas all while constrained in some areas to the five feet of walkway between sidewalk tables. Of course, one can always cross over to the eastern sidewalk to avoid all of that, and it's odd how comparatively few people do. It's almost like some people actually enjoy the chaos.
Regardless, the latest plan would keep the main roadway with more narrow lanes, and all parallel parking spots (parking that makes millions for the city, by the way). Two feet of Lummus Park would be lost, though.
Tables would be limited to just the first ten feet. That would leave well over 11 feet of open sidewalk for people to ramble out.
Commissioners are also discussing the idea of raising the rent they charge restaurants to put their tables on the sidewalk. Would those super-large slime green margaritas become even more expensive in order for restaurants to compensate? Who knows.
There's also no word on how much all of this would cost the city.
And hopefully none of this greatly effects the Palace's ability to put on Sunday brunch drag shows. If Miami isn't the kind of place you can occasionally see a six-foot drag queen jump down into a split on the hot concrete sidewalk in the middle of a bunch of tourists, it's just not a place worth living in anymore.