In mid-June, Transit Miami published Harry Gottlieb’s community commentary on the dangerous state of some of our bridges in Miami-Dade County for bicyclists. Harry and others had sounded the alarm well before, asking FDOT and Miami Dade County to fix those bridges that lead to a bloodfest should you fall on metal grates that are used on a considerable number of the bridges leading over waterways in Miami Dade County. FDOT’s usual response was at display: putting its head in the sand, claiming that the agency didn’t know that the combination of moisture and metal is not a good fit for cyclists. Miami Dade County has at least tentative plans to fix the bridges it is responsible for, but is also not making aggressive moves to do so. Since FDOT asked for data even in the face of the obvious, we asked our FB page readers and very quickly received responses detailing the sometimes horrendous crashes that this design causes. The Broward and Miami New Times published an article on the issue. The solutions are relatively straightforward although there is some cost involved, including the use of anti-slip metal plates or the filling in of the space with solid material (weight considerations will certainly be an issue).  Here is a picture of Brickell Avenue at the Miami River, with a cheese grater surface. Clipboard01 Within a couple of days last week, we heard from two cyclists that fell and got seriously injured on two different drawbridges, both within the purview of FDOT . We post here Renato’s and Kris’s stories of last week and Jess’s story from half a year ago. Please note that some of the pictures are graphic, but it seems necessary to post them so that those in positions to actually do something will have a realistic picture of the damage and pain that their design causes. Renato’s story is testament not only to the dangers of FDOT design, but also our idiosyncratic health care system (we’ll leave the latter of others to deal with):

Please find attached pictures of my drawbridge cycling accident 09/06/14. This needless and most painful accident resulted from crashing upon the dangerous slippery metal grates on the Miami River Brickell Ave. drawbridge.  On Saturday early morning I started my bike ride to KB. Two miles into it, on top of the Brickell Ave. drawbridge my front tire slipped as a result of the moist, slippery and dangerous metal grates and I fell.  I had to react fast since I knew there were cars coming.  A lady stopped her car and asked me a few time if I was ok.  She wouldn’t leave until she saw me walking down the bridge.  I think I was more worry about my Tri-bike than myself at the beginning.  I didn’t know how bad my injuries were until I got to my car. I went to my house and woke my wife up, she immediately helped me to clean myself a bit and we went out to look for an Urgent Care.  We went around for 30 minutes looking for an open Urgent Care around the midtown area but they all open at 10 am (Urgent Care Insurance copay is $50, ER Insurance copay is $700). At 9:30 am I went to Coral Gables Urgent Care but I was told they couldn’t do anything due to the way my injuries were.  I went to Coral Gables ER and I got 5 stitches on my left knee, scratches and bruises on my left arm and hip. Bike damages probably $400 for a new handlebar, medical expenses so far have been about $1000 with ER and medicine.  I still need to go see the specialist and therapist, although I am lucky I only suffered scratches, bruises and 5 stitches on my left knee. I can’t bend my knee until next week. Still shaken up and in a good deal of pain. I can’t get on my bike for at least 2 to 3 weeks and most likely will miss the most important triathlon in Miami due to this incident. I don’t want other cyclists to go through this.  An ex-fire fighter friend of mine told me that years ago his station received a call of a cyclist being hit by a car on that same bridge.  The cyclist slipped and fell on top of the drawbridge and a van ran over him. He was killed in that accident. How many more accidents do we need to have to get the attention of FDOT and MDC? How many more cyclists have to be injured or even die before they to do something to improve the safety for all?

 

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Half a year before, on the same bridge we were told about the following story by Jess:

I took a pretty bad fall this past February while transiting from work at the Coast Guard Sector, near Miami Beach, to my apartment in Brickell. It had started raining after work, but I had biked in the rain several times before and figured I would be fine for getting home. Right before the bridge, I had to stop at a red light slowing speed immensely before crossing over the grates. That being said, I would estimate my speed to be roughly 18 to 19 mph.  The right side of the Brickell Bridge is already tough for cycling as it has some sort of accumulation of cement or construction material spilled on it, making for a rough ride.  I am very careful to cross this part and have to stay further in traffic to do so. As I crossed the bridge and hit the grates, I felt as though I was driving a car on ice. In slow motion, I watched as my bike started sliding sporadically beneath me. Being clipped in to my pedals, as most serious cyclists are, I was unable to just step off my bike. After a solid 5 feet of sliding I lost all control and had to take the fall. I landed on my left side and my bike flew off to the right. I barely missed being run over by the car behind me, as they too had trouble stopping with how slippery the bridge was from oils brought up during the rain. I quickly got up and walked myself and my bike off the bridge in immense pain. I was bleeding so much that I soon became lightheaded and was very lucky that the man that stopped behind me came back to rush me to the ER. I spent 5 hours there and ended up with 3 stitches in my elbow, several bruises on my left side, and many cuts.  My bike frame, carbon fiber, was also totaled from the fall. As a result, I was set back 2 weeks in ironman training and missed a week of work from the pain and fatigue following trauma. I had noticed that bridge could be challenging with narrow race tires before, but the rain aggravated the situation. I would take the sidewalks as an alternative, but it is equally unsafe to do so with so many pedestrians.  Walking in bike shoes in the rain also poses a problem. If the bridge could be altered to be more bike friendly, that would be wonderful.

A few days after Renato’s crash, Kris fell on the 63rd Street bridge in Miami Beach, another bridge for which FDOT bears responsibility:

It was a Tuesday night 9/9/2014, and I was on my usual commute back from work. That evening it had mildly rained on the Beach, but nothing too heavy. I was riding my bike up the bridge on Alton, to merge onto Indian Creek at approximately 8:50pm. I climbed the first part of the bridge without any incident, but as soon as my tires hit the grates on the bridge, my bike starting to slip. I felt that there was no way I could keep control, but managed to hold on as long as I could, still falling and impacting my left hip, shoulder, and forearm. My hand also slid across the grate, and opened a deep wound like cheese to a grater, and my palm, and left ring finger impacted the grates as well causing bruising. Picking myself up in a matter of seconds, both cars behind me stopped, and one of the vehicles with two passengers asked me “are you okay, can we help you?” & “don’t ride your bike on wet grates”. I told them I was fine, and pulled everything to the side, I took off my shirt, and wrapped it around my hand to stop the bleeding. I was about a mile away from home, so I got back on my bike which had been scratched on my Sram apex shifter, and saddle, and rode the rest of the way home putting my weight only on my right arm, and hand. When I got home I just changed my outfit, and waited for my mom to arrive to take me to the hospital. She took me to Mt. Sinai where I had to get an x-ray, a tetanus shot, and get 4 stitches. I will be doing a police report, and filling a claims form for FDOT to take responsibility. I will hold them accountable of damage to myself, and to my vehicle.

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So, there you have it FDOT. Our facebook posting has more stories, as if that was necessary. Here is a picture of SW 2nd Ave, also crossing the Miami River, which has a non-slippery surface (and which as far as we know is not an FDOT road, but rather belongs to Miami Dade County). SW 2nd AVe While we realize that there may be some serious engineering problems involved in putting concrete onto these bridges, FDOT’s District 4 (responsible for Broward, Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties) has at least begun to do what other places around the country have been doing before and has installed a non-slippery surface on Hillsborough Blvd as it crosses the Intracoastal.

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The solution isn’t rocket science and the script is already in FDOT’s hand. We encourage FDOT and Miami-Dade County to move forward and prioritize retrofitting the bridges quickly. Other cyclists shouldn’t have to go through what Renato, Jess, Kris and so many others have had to endure. There really aren’t any excuses any longer and it is time to for both FDOT and the County to act. We have written to the local FDOT official more than once asking where they are in the process of making the bridges that can easily lead to horrific crashes safer. We have not heard from them so far, but will continue to follow up. We owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Gottlieb for continuing to stay on the case. Further updates to follow. Update (09/16/2014): We have in the meantime heard from Miami Dade County about upcoming projects and they seem to be moving forward with increasing safety. The Miami Avenue bridge is currently being rebuilt and the County is looking into the feasibility of installing plates similar to those on Hillsborough Blvd, as per the above pictures. The Venetian Causeway is currently undergoing a major renovation, which may include a replacement of the bridges. Even if replacement will not take place, the “chosen option will incorporate a solid deck or plates in order to address the bicyclist concerns”. Because of the projected length of the bridge reconstruction on the Venetian Causeway, the County will ask an engineering consulting firm to evaluate those and the other cheese grater bridges that the County is responsible for with respect to “implementing the installation of the aforementioned plates where applicable”. We applaud the County for actually moving forward with this plan and hope to see a speedy implementation.

 

Art Days Bicycle

 

Miami-Dade Transit has no plan to extend Metrorail nor is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on their radar in the foreseeable future.  Take a look at their 10-year plan; complete fluff with no substance, no future transit vision, or measurable goals ( ie. add X miles of BRT or add X bus shelters, Baylink extension).  Essentially Miami Dade Transit has no game plan for the next 10 years. See for yourselves.

 

There is still time to let MDT know how elementary their 10 year plan is:

The MDT10Ahead draft document is now available for review on the MDT10Ahead project website.

 Please review the MDT10Ahead draft document and submit your comments by email or mail to: Miami-Dade Transit, Planning & Development, 701 NW 1st Court, 15th Floor, Miami, FL 33136. Correspondence must be postmarked no later than September 26th, 2014 in order to be considered for this update.

 

Commissioner Sosa,

In response to MDT’s monetary challenges, we can still find ways to increase service opportunities on Metrorail over the next 10 years. I have included the article below as a reference. Chicago, Washington, and Boston have all added new stations on existing rail lines recently to increase service to residents along existing tracks at lower costs than rail line expansions.

“Yonah Freemark writes of the value of infill stations—new transit stations built on existing lines—for increasing transit ridership. Somerville, outside of Boston, will provide the latest example when it opens a station on the Orange Line next week. Yonah Freemark wants to let readers in on a secret: adding infill stations is “[one] of the best ways to increase transit ridership at a reasonable price [and] requires little additional service. It requires no new line extensions. And it can be done to maximize the value of existing urban neighborhoods.”
The article provides a chronology of recent infill station projects from around the country, like in Washington D.C., Chicago, and the East Bay Area, as well as making the financial case for the cost-per-rider benefit of such projects.”

 
 Unfortunately, the final MDT 10 ahead plan for transit’s next 10 years final draft not only does not include light rail to the beach or any Metrorail expansions; It actually specifically excludes these items by saying “No expansion of rail facilities will occur”. My suggestion of looking into whether CRAs or other special taxing districts and developments on transit sites could help pay for future expansions WAS NOT identified as even an item to STUDY. Another suggestion to STUDY the implications of infill stations also WAS NOT included. It is clear that Transit/ MDX/ FDOT are only interested in busses, Lexus lanes, and more sprawl moving the UDB southwest. 
 
As an infill example, I think a new rail station could be placed near Miami Jai Alai on the existing Orange Line.
 
Please look into the apparent disconnection between Local Transportation Policies and voters desires for MORE RAIL OPPORTUNITIES, NO UDB EXPANSION, LESS water/sewer infrastructure expansions = costs? I don’t understand it. Thank you Commissioner Sosa for allowing me to serve on the MDT steering committee. A majority of the public on the committee does not agree with the goals, strategies or policies in the Final Draft MDT 10 yr plan.
 
BTW: District 6/7 also lost the planned SW 37th Av- Douglas Road Express Bus service in the 10 yr plan’s final draft. Incredible!

Regretfully,

Alexander Adams, AICP, CNU-A, LEED-Green Associate
ALPHA plan-develop-invest
www.alphapdi.com

 

Turnout at MDX’s highway open house last Thursday night was generally healthy.

I’d estimate a solid 80-100 people came through the doors of the West Kendall Baptist Church, eager to learn more about the big new highway project MDX is seeking to sell them on. (I didn’t stick around for the whole three hour event, so my count is unofficial at best. Let’s hope the numbers were more around 150-200 people.)

Turnout to MDX's first public "open house" on its desire to create a vast new section of the 836 highway through far southwest Miami-Dade was healthy. More public opposition will be needed to stop this monstrosity from coming to life.

Turnout to MDX’s first public “open house” on the 836 expansion project was healthy. More public opposition will be needed to stop this monstrosity from coming to life.

The layout of the public meeting was informal, and MDX should be commended for conducting the event in a way that maximized the people’s interaction with project staff: Good job on facilitating some community face-time, MDX — sincerely.

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MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

Four loosely-grouped information stations were set-up.

  • Station 1: “Purpose & Need”
  • Station 2: “Process & Schedule”
  • Station 3: “Natural Environment”
  • Station 4: “Physical & Socio-cultural Environment
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MDX presented a lot of interesting maps to suggest that a comprehensive socio-environmental, socio-economic, and socio-cultural evaluation of the project would be undertaken.

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Is MDX really looking at ways to leverage and improve public transit in the area? With all the existing (and planned) park and ride bus stations in the study area, why not study a true bus rapid transit (BRT) system for the county?

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All of MDX’s highway alternatives run through the west wellfield area, one of the sites from which Miamians extract their water from the aquifer below. It’s the source of our drinking water.

Each station had two or three MDX staff members (or staff from one of MDX’s contracted consultant firms, e.g., Stantec) on-hand to solicit residents’ thoughts and provide (typically diversionary) responses to their questions.

Staff were generally friendly. All good salespeople are.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plan to the  inquiring public.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

My underlying concern is that when I asked even the simplest of questions, or when my questions were apparently perceived as not ‘softball’ enough, I persistently got some variant of the following response: “Oh, this project is just in the planning stage. It’s way too early to be making those considerations.”

A couple of basic questions to which I received no real response.

  • Considering all alternatives, from the least to the most expansive, what is MDX estimating the costs of this highway expansion to be?
  • Considering all alternatives, how much does MDX consider the total cost of the tolls to be from the southwest to downtown Miami?

Any response that wasn’t overly deflective still didn’t register as sufficient justification for a new highway. For example:

  • Me: If the underlying problem is that nearly all of Miami’s suburbanites commute from the west to the east, why would people want to lengthen their commute by driving farther west, just to ultimately go east again?
  • MDX (paraphrased): Well . . . some people already go west onto Krome [SW 177th] Avenue to go back east again.
  • Me: Yes, a handful do, but Krome Avenue is currently set to be widened by FDOT, and that will accommodate the relatively few who do.
  • MDX (paraphrased): Yes, that’s true; Krome is to be widened; but we need to look into whether widening Krome will be enough.
  • Me: . . . 

MDX was clearly more concerned with selling its message than informing the people of that highway’s impact on their quality of life.

That message is clear: “Miami: You need another highway at the far edge of the city, either along, or somewhere beyond, the Urban Development Boundary.”

While MDX staff weren’t eager to give out any information that could jeopardize their chances of advancing their highway “dream”, they were eager to give out free Sunpass receptors (electronic toll collection devices). The way MDX sees it, we’ll be needing them.

MDX is eager to distribute as many free Sunpass electronic toll collection devices as possible. For MDX, more tolls = more highway expansion = more need to exist.

MDX is eager to distribute as many free Sunpasses. For MDX, more tolls = more highway expansion = more need to exist.

Many attendees, myself included, made their opposition to the project known via the comment cards distributed by the agency.

More public commentary will be needed to stop MDX from realizing its highway dream.

More public commentary will be needed to stop MDX from realizing its highway dream.

More public commentary will be needed to stop MDX from realizing its highway dream.

Be sure to have your voice heard while the project is still in the study stage.

Still, more voices will be needed to stop MDX from moving forward with its plans to build more highways in Miami, further constraining our city’s ability to liberate itself from its dependence on automobiles.

What: Second Public Meeting on South Bayshore Drive Improvement Project

Where: Miami City Hall Chambers, 3500 Pan American Drive

When: Monday, September 15, 2014, 6 pm

Scope: Widening and reconstruction of roadway with drainage improvements, traffic signalization, designated bike lanes and landscape improvements from Mercy Way to Darwin Street.

2nd Public Meeting - S. Bayshore Drive 9.15.14-page-001

These are some basic facts about the project. To give some more context, the following may be helpful. It should be clear that this meeting is an important one to attend if you care about improvements to the bike / ped infrastructure in the area. The City of Miami has an opportunity to get a lot of things right this time around – let’s see whether they live up to the challenge.

The project concerns an area that forms part of the connection between Coconut Grove and the Brickell / downtown area. Given that there really is no safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to get from Coconut Grove to Brickell / downtown or the Key Biscayne bridge, it is important that the City of Miami get this project right. The route suffers from a large number of commuters that use it in the morning and the evening instead of US 1. There will likely be discussions about the extent to which level of service not being sacrificed in order to create a safe streetscape. If that doesn’t happen, it would be a pleasant surprise. If it does, it is no longer an acceptable argument, especially given the high risks for pedestrians and cyclists in the third most dangerous metropolitan area in a highly used corridor by pedestrians and cyclists.

Make your voice heard and ask or demand (whatever you prefer) that the entire project receive contiguous bike lanes and sidewalks, the latter of which (ideally some parts of the bike lane as well) is not at grade with the road so as to avoid crashes that have in the past almost cost a jogger his life.

 

Via CNBC

 

From the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) website:

Visitors who arrive to PAMM by Metromover on September 1 will receive FREE museum admission. A PAMM visitors services staff member will be at Museum Park Station with museum passes, good for Monday, September 1, 2014, only.

In observance of Labor Day, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will offer free exhibition tours at 11:30am and 2:30pm. The tours are led by trained museum guides and last 45 minutes.

Click to enlarge:

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At last year’s Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) Transportation Summit, Maurice Ferré, former City of Miami Mayor and current Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) Chair, pointed to a map of his agency’s current and future projects and declared that it was MDX’s “dream” — yes, that’s a quote — to realize the proliferating highway vision embodied by that map.

A major feature of MDX’s so-called dream includes expanding the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) down through the far southwest reaches of Miami-Dade County. One of the competing versions of the dream would put the newly expanded tolled highway along the Miami-Dade County urban development boundary (UDB).

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Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in 2013. Source: Miami Geographic / Matthew Toro. 2014.

Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in 2013. Source: Miami Geographic. 2014.

Tolled highways are generally great, as they create an economic disincentive to single-occupant automobile use. People often respond to the price triggers of tolled highways by turning to more affordable, more accessible public transportation (bus, train, etc.), active mobility (biking, walking, etc.), and alternative mobility (car-pooling, short-distance car-sharing (Car2Go), real-time ride-sharing (Uber, Lyft), etc.) options.

In the metropolitan context of Miami-Dade County, though, these options are either underdeveloped or are just now getting started in earnest.

The Metrorail system, for instance, serves a very limited corridor.

Metrorail System 1-Mile Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. Miami Geographic. 2014.

Metrorail System 1-Mile Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. Miami Geographic. 2014.

An extensive bus system traverses most major arterial roads moving north-south and east-west, but buses carry a stigma of being either unreliable or unpleasant, or both.

Miamians are increasingly realizing that cycling and walking to their destinations isn’t as hard as our automobile-dominated culture would have us otherwise believe. Still, we’re many years away from realizing the active mobility utopia Miami has the potential to be.

In light of this shortage of viable mobility alternatives, then, one might think that the toll revenues generated by Miami’s highway dystopia would be directed toward investment in better public transportation infrastructure and streetscape amenities (e.g., wider sidewalks, proper bike lanes, etc.).

The problem with MDX, though, is that the toll monies it collects are used for increased highway development and an unwarranted expansion of roadway jurisdiction, not for the sorts of investments that would move greater Miami away from its automobile dependence.

As one of many cases in point: MDX is actively seeking to convert the only bus route in Miami-Dade County even remotely resembling true bus rapid transit, the South Miami-Dade Busway, into a highway falling under its jurisdiction, complete with overpasses and all.

Dumping more money into highways is tantamount to our community collectively signing a 50-100-year contract of servitude to stop-and-go highway hell. And that’s not to mention all of the broader economic and environmental ramifications: subsidizing the air-choking, global warming oil and gas industries; the financial crisis-inducing, and obesity-encouraging single-family real estate sprawl sector; the deforestation-promoting rubber sector in the tropics; the list goes on.

Miamians don’t have to accept this fate, though. We don’t have to sign away our city to this chain of corporate profiteers who refuse to adapt to the innovations in transportation infrastructure and human life demanded by 21st century urbanism.

The very first “Open House: Public Kick-off Meeting” for MDX’s Southwest Highway Expansion “dream” will be held in less than two weeks. This is Miami’s first real opportunity to voice its concerns about the project’s short-, medium-, and long-term impacts.

At the risk of sounding (even more?) cynical, I dare posit that these sorts of meetings are intended primarily to fulfill certain state and federal requirements to maintain minimum transparency levels, as well as to offer just enough opportunity for public input so that any future complaints made when the real impacts of such projects are felt can be expediently dismissed with the standard bureaucratic “We offered the public the chance to speak, and no such concerns were brought up then.” By then, it’s simply too little, too late.

The point is that the time to speak is now — during this preliminary Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study — not when this study materializes into an actionable plan and the construction crews are out there at the edge of the Everglades laying out a new highway.

Don’t let MDX’s highway dream become Miami’s prolonged highway nightmare. Be there and speak up!

 

MDX SR 836 / Dolphin Expressway Southwest Extension

Open House Public Kickoff Meeting

Thursday, September 4, 2014

6:00pm – 9:00pm

Miami Baptist Church

14955 SW 88th Street

Miami, FL 33196

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.38.42 AMClick on this link to send Miami Commissioners an email to voice your support for this parking exemption.

Minimum parking requirements are killing good urban development in Miami. Luckily, there has been a push to eliminate parking requirements for small urban buildings (<10,000 sq ft) in recent months.  This is a good first step in the right direction if Miami really aspires to become a walkable and less autocentric city.

Minimum parking requirements perpetuate more automobile use and it also makes housing less affordable since the cost of building and maintaining required parking is passed on to renters and buyers. A few months ago Zillow released a housing report  that cited Miami as the 2nd most expensive city for renters.  The average Miami resident spends 43.2% of their income on rent.

Combine expensive housing with lack of public transit and minimum parking requirements that only serve to perpetuate the use of the automobile; its no wonder why Miami is one of the most expensive car dominated cities in the US.

Eliminating parking requirements would do the following things:

1) Allows small developers to choose how many parking spaces are needed based on what fits and what buyers or tenants want.
2) Replaces parking with denser development that generates more property and sales tax for the county and city.
3) Allows small property owners to keep their property and develop themselves.
4) Levels the playing field for small Miami property owners.
5) Allows for the creation of more walkable and denser urban neighborhoods.

Below are the details for the reduced parking requirements that are being sought for small urban buildings.  This is currently being advocated for at the commission level, so stay tuned for the resolution.

The proposed text for T4, T5, and T6 is underlined below.  The non-underlined text already exists in Miami 21, a TOD/transit corridor parking reduction that does not apply within 500 ft of single-family/duplex areas (T3).  The proposed text does not change that, it does not apply within 500 feet of T3.  Below is a map of where the proposed text would apply: orange areas around rail stations, purple areas along transit corridors, but not yellow areas within 500 ft of T3.  

“Parking ratio may be reduced within 1/2 mile radius of TOD or within 1/4 mile radius of a Transit Corridor by thirty percent (30%) by process of Waiver, or by one hundred percent (100%) for any Structure that has a Floor Area of ten thousand (10,000) square feet or less, except when site is within 500 feet of T3.”

Let’s hope City of Miami Commissioners can come to their senses and eliminate parking requirements entirely, not just for small urban buildings.

Click on this link to send Miami Commissioners an email to voice your support for this parking exemption.

 

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Cyclists will meet at Government Center at 6:30 p.m. and take off around 7

CM PO POCriticalMassRules-thumb-400x400

 

 

Come prepared to get your TOD on…

Click here to register

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By: Harry Emilio Gottlieb 

How many more cyclists need to be sliced and diced on
cheese grater surface before FDOT is motivated
to improve safety with nonslip bike lane?

`

So you wake up this morning and decide to great the day with an enjoyable and healthy bike ride. You determine today’s destination and plot your rout. It will to take you over the Miami River and Intercoastal. There is light traffic, the wind is in your favor and there is enough cloud coverage to make it comfortable. You have ridden across that drawbridge many times before. But this time it will be just a little different. A few hours ago there was dew in the air or perhaps a drizzle of rain. The moisture has mixed with the fuel residue from cars, trucks and boats. The surface of the metal grate at the crest of the drawbridge is now covered in a slippery film that may be a challenge to most cyclists, especially those on Road and TriBikes, out for a bit of exercise. All of a sudden you sense something is very wrong. Your bike is sliding and perhaps even fishtailing. Your priority is now to keep calm, your deal with the new tense situation, adrenaline is kicking in. Your immediate goal is to avoid falling on the “Cheese Grater”. You pray there is no car, truck or bus behind you and will somehow safely reach the solid road ASAP.

Needless to say some cyclists have not been so lucky. They were unable to control the slippery surface and crashed upon the metal grate. Some have received the worst road rash of their bike riding lives and others have experienced fractured ribs, wrists and collarbones. Rising up from the terrible fall one tends to quickly inventory the quantity of healthy fingers remaining in one piece.

There have been numerous cases of cyclists slipping and falling on our drawbridges. Many have been seriously hurt, endured pain, suffering, costly medical bills and damaged or totaled bikes.

So you may ask…
Why hasn’t FDOT taken steps to make drawbridges safer for all cyclists?
Why have they not installed designated bike lanes?
Why have they not installed a no-slip surface?
Why is there not a sign that advises bridge users of whom to contact when an issue arises?

FDOT has not seen a need to do so, because they claim they have no record of anyone reporting a drawbridge cycling accident. The fact is that many cyclists just pick themselves up, go home or seek medical treatment on their own. Unless the accident is very serious in which case the paramedics will be called and a report is filed.

Transit Miami inquired with its readers about their drawbridge concerns and suggested solutions. These include the use of anti-slip metal plates or the filling in of the space with solid material (weight considerations will certainly be an issue). This information was shared with Broward and Miami New Times and they also championed the issue.

Now it is up to the local FDOT office to recognize the need to “Do The Right Thing” and improve the safety of our drawbridges. Its sister office in Broward has previously installed a smaller diameter metal grate in a designated bike lane on the A1A drawbridge just north of Commercial Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale as have other agencies around the country.

IMG_0636        IMG_0634

Photos courtesy of Yamile Castella. 

Another solution would be to designate a bike lane with paint and fill in the dangerous grates with concrete or rubber.

Your help is required to help improve drawbridge safety. Share your concerns and suggestion with TransitMiami in the comments below and while you’re at it, let FDOT personnel know what you think of their inaction. Just as important, report serious accidents to police so that FDOT can no longer claim that they are unaware of doing the right thing, which should be utterly uncontroversial.

Ride safely, especially over drawbridges.

 

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