BOCA RATON – Located just across Palmetto Park’s Intracoastal Bridge, Boca Beachside is Boca’s gateway to its beaches. As such, you might expect it to be a welcoming and beautiful passageway to the beach with wonderful pedestrian and bike infrastructure … Boca style. But you would be wrong.
This stretch of Palmetto Park Rd in Boca Raton sees streams of residents and visitors going to and fro on foot, on bike and by car; especially in season and during the holidays. You might think sometime in the last decade when the population, energy awareness, bicycling, e-bikes and a whole host of electric mobility vehicles has surged, the City of Boca Raton would have addressed this issue. But you would be wrong.
Residents will know it but visitors may not; Boca has been on a building binge for 20 years bringing nearly a dozen hi-rise residential buildings to its downtown “Chicago Style” and promising residents huge tax revenues for the inconvenience. And while lusting after acres of concrete luxury apartments/condos on postage stamp lots, the City has only managed to provide dollar store mobility infrastructure; if at all. You might think the City would have leveraged this windfall and taken care to cleanup and beautify its Boca Beachside asset. Or better yet, negotiated with the developers and their architects to address the mobility infrastructure problems they create. But you would be wrong.
The Canyons of Palmetto
As for traveling to the beach in Boca Beachside, you face a myriad of concrete poles jutting into the sidewalk, parking spaces and construction fences that put the squeeze on you whether you go by foot, bike or e-whatever. You may have to wait for pedestrians to clear the “Canyons of Palmetto” the that the City has created.
It got so bad, that in 2020, citizens took matters into their own hands and initiated a Boca Beachside beautification project. BocaFirst article “East Palmetto Safety: Internal City Emails Tell a Different Story” reported its status after two years. And here we are, approaching three years and at the start of another season with nothing to show for it. Nada. The big donut. Don’t believe it? Here’s a ride on a December Saturday morning 2022:
And don’t think you can cross over to the northern side of Palmetto. It’s just as bad. Besides, there is no crosswalk anywhere between the beach and the bridge. None. Zero. Zip. And there will not be one as per the City Manager who is seemingly oblivious of the urban planning concept of “Induced Demand” also known as “If you build it, they will come”. Ding dong. People don’t do stuff that is dangerous. But if you make pedestrian and bike infrastructure safe and inviting, they’ll use it. SMH.
Three Things You Can Do About Boca’s Archaic Pedestrian & Bike Infrastructure
The one person on the City Council that has overseen all this for a decade and done little about it as a council member, deputy mayor, temporary mayor and elected mayor is current Mayor Scott Singer. He wants you to support his proposed change to the City Charter to extend his final lame duck term (he is running unopposed) to four years instead of three. Here’s an article with details containing a button to email the entire City Council how you feel about that.
Next, tell the Boca City Council that Boca Beachside’s mobility infrastructure is archaic, insufficient and unsafe. And maybe mention it affects your vote regarding term lengths should Singer’s resolution 5637 come to a referendum:
Lastly, head over to the Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Comment Map and create comments every place you think Boca’s rolling/bike infrastructure has a problem or needs improvement. The more comments filed, the higher its priority becomes and the harder it is for the City to squirm away from doing anything about it. Do it. It’s easy.