Multiple facets of our community are abuzz with transportation- and mobility-related talk.
Now we’ve got yet another transportation-/mobility-related event scheduled for a week after the summit, on June 12. It seems the transportation debate in greater Miami is really heating up . . .
The Good Government Initiative (GGI) at the University of Miami is hosting a luncheon called “Can We Conquer Congestion? Mobility for 21st Century“.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
11:30am – registration | 12:00pm — lunch | 12:30pm — conversation
Northern Trust | 700 Brickell Avenue | Miami, Florida 33131
For your Average-José, there’s some good news and bad news. It’s always best to serve the bad news first:
Bad News: This is NOT a free event, which is something that would generally, under most circumstances, discourage me from posting here on TransitMiami. There’s an elaborate fee schedule for various types of groups:
- $35 — Individual Ticket (standard/default)
- $30 — GGI Member
- $50 — GGI Contributor (Individual Ticket + $15 donation)
- $500 — Sponsor Table for 10
- $20 — Student / Concerned Citizen
Good News: The Good Government Initiative has graciously agreed to offer readers of TransitMiami a special registration discount of $5, hence the reason it’s being posted. Thank you Good Government Initiative — sincerely!
That’s right! Just as you always hoped and knew it would, your TransitMiami readership is finally beginning to pay off! To get your crisp Abraham Lincoln knocked-off the registration price, be sure to enter the following promo code into the electronic form when registering as a “Student / Concerned Citizen” ($20): TRANSITMIAMI .
After the $5 discount, that $15 bucks will cover your lunch (hey, lunch!) and presence at the discussion. Note: the actual level of participation permitted by the public in this “discussion” is to yet to be determined/witnessed. . . . Read on for the justification of my admittedly skeptical disposition . . .
The more ambiguous news — toward which you should be correspondingly ambivalent — is that an event titled “Can We Conquer Congestion? Mobility for 21st Century” is featuring the Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), Mr. Javier Rodriguez, as one of its main speakers (?!).
Let’s be clear here: TransitMiami has absolutely nothing against Mr. Rodriguez on a personal level.
Professionally, though, we do take issue with the agency whose reigns he controls: MDX.
Around here, MDX holds the un-honorably earned reputation of being one of the main progenitors of suburban sprawl and endless highway construction. It’s these forces that underlie congestion and diminish quality of life in our community. MDX is a tenacious antagonist of true urban mobility in the Miami of the 21st century.
So, please understand that our dissemination of this event comes with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism, probably even an unfortunate hint of cynicism too.
On the other hand, though, there’s also going to be representation by some organizations whose missions and and on-the-ground operations actually reflect the pursuit of our community’s well-being.
Other speakers include the likes of former Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Ms. Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of The Good Government Initiative, as well as people like Ms. Anamarie Garces de Marcilla, Executive Director of Urban Health Solutions and current chair of the Consortium for Healthier Miami-Dade’s Health & Built Environment Committee.
[***Full disclosure: this author serves on, and is a supporter of, that volunteer committee.***]
Other anticipated speakers include Mr. Joe Giulietti, Executive Director, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (the agency which manages Tri-Rail) and Mr. Mark Lesniak, Executive Director of Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association.
So, if you have the time and the $15 bucks to spare for lunch where people will be talking about transportation and mobility, go for it! And don’t forget to tell them that TransitMiami sent you with that promo code.
Let’s just hope that after sharing all of these critical — but well-intentioned — sentiments, the kind folks from GGI still uphold their $5 discount to TransitMiami readers! After years of your blood, sweat, and tears, TM readers, you definitely deserve it!
Written by Peter Smith
Two summers ago, I attended a presentation on mobility at the Department of Transportation’s new headquarters in Navy Yard. My then-boss, Mariia Zimmerman, was speaking on our nation’s preparedness to deal with an aging population in an auto-centric culture, and she gave a startling statistic: eighty-five percent of Baby Boomers live in communities where the car is the only viable means of transportation – walking included – and when asked how they intend to complete activities of daily living – grocery shopping, doctors appointments, church services – when they’re no longer able to drive, nearly all of them chose a single response: my children will drive me. That. Is. Insane. It’s also really poor planning, but first and foremost it’s insane.
I was reminded of this mind-blowing stat this week when my parents moved from my childhood home in one of Baltimore’s shoulder-to-shoulder brick row neighborhoods to a mid-century planned community. Their new home is in the Village of Cross Keys, the first planned community ever built by James Rouse, the man who coined the term “urban renewal.” Past the community’s guard tower, the tree-lined residential streets, named for great Baltimore planners like Edward Bouton and Frederick Law Olmstead, abut shops and restaurants. There’s a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a hotel. It’s just outside of downtown, but feels like a small hamlet. It sounds like a great place to retire, and indeed, it is marketed as an ideal community for active retirees.
The Village of Cross Keys, for all its amenities though, is not without its shortcomings. For instance, it lacks a grocery store… and a pharmacy… and a church and synagogue… and a school. Cross Keys has also been sold as a great place to raise a family, which is even more bewildering. The closest bus stop is outside the community’s fence over a half-mile from the residential heart along roads that sometimes have sidewalks, but sometimes don’t. In short, its boutique shops and chic cafes may make it a great place for retirees to waste lazy afternoons, but they don’t necessarily make it a great place to grow old, or even a great place to just live.
As a society, we’re becoming increasingly aware, thanks to the efforts of the First Lady and others to tackle childhood obesity, of the challenges that our nation’s children face from un-walkable communities; less than five percent of American children now live in a community where they can walk or bike to school. We’re far less conscious, however, of the challenges presented to the older generations, those who will in time be unable to drive and will therefore more than anyone else benefit from walkable, not to mention inter-generational, neighborhoods.
Miami has its share of America’s aging population as well as its share of un-walkable communities. I set out to discover just how big the problem is that Miami will face; how many older Miamians live in communities that will increasingly fail to meet their needs as they grow older? To do this, I looked at population data from Miami-Dade’s 77 inhabited zip codes and stood it up against each zip code’s ratings from WalkScore.
A quick caveat – WalkScore is not a perfect measure of walkability by any means, but validation studies confirm that it’s pretty much as good a measurement as anyone has ever devised. If anything, many of its shortcomings, such as its failure to consider lack of sidewalks or hostile road environments, would mean scores in places like Miami are likely higher than they should be, but as you’ll see, Miami’s scores aren’t very high as it is.
WalkScore assigns a score to any address in the United States and elsewhere that is representative of the area’s walkability. It measures walkability by proximity to amenities, such as groceries, restaurants, parks, schools, etc. The final score falls along a scale of 0-100, which corresponds to the following five walkability categories:
- Walker’s Paradise (90-100): Daily errands do not require a car.
- Very Walkable (70-89): Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
- Somewhat Walkable (50-69): Some amenities are within walking distance.
- Car-Dependent (25-49): A few amenities are within walking distance.
- Car-Dependent (0-24): All errands require a car.
Ideally, any individual, especially older Americans would be able to walk to at least the most basic necessities, but as it turns out, for many that’s not the case. There are 463,940 people in Miami-Dade County who are age 60 or older and a full one-third of them live in areas where almost nothing is accessible without a car. Here’s a pie chart with the county-wide breakdown:
One of the first things that you probably noted was that the percentage of older Miamians living in areas categorized as a “Walker’s Paradise” is zero. That’s because there is no zip code in Dade County that tops the required score threshold of 90; the highest is a respectable 85, achieved by zip codes in Coconut Grove and Little Havana. Once you get over the shock, or not, that Miami is no Walker’s Paradise, you’ll see that about 70 percent of the county’s older residents live in areas where approximately half or more of basic needs cannot be accomplished on foot.
The median WalkScore for older Miamians is 57, which is solidly in the lower-middle share of the Somewhat Walkable category. To give a sense of what a “somewhat walkable” community is like, consider zip code 33186, which includes the area where the Florida Turnpike intersects with Kendall Avenue and has a WalkScore rating of 60. It’s home to just shy of 10,000 Miamians age 60 and older. From a typical house inside the sub-development just off the Turnpike at Kendall Avenue, it’s over a mile roundtrip for groceries, and a mile-and-a-half for a cup of coffee or a trip to the park. The closest bus stop is a half-mile away. For an older person in the hot Miami sun, distances like those can be pretty isolating.
Now, consider that 52.4% of Miamians age 60 and over live in areas that are even less walkable than that. Indeed, nearly 40,000 older Miamians live in communities with a WalkScore of five or less. That’s a small city’s worth of people who cannot travel to any meaningful destination without a car and for whom the inability to drive would mean the inability to remain even minimally self-sufficient.
Anyone has who has lived with an aging relative can relate that perhaps the hardest part of getting old is coming to terms with the loss of independence and self-sufficiency. It’s also no secret that maintaining that independence and self-sufficiency can be the key to maintaining happiness and mental health long into old age. For the Baby Boomers in particular, for whom freedom and independence are central to the generation’s identity, addressing the mobility challenges presented by Miami’s built environment is critical. When answering surveys, Boomers may be amenable to the idea that they will relinquish all freedom of mobility to their children, but the reality will likely mirror other generations’ reluctance to forego independence.
Baby Boomers represent the largest generational cohort in the United States and they comprise twenty percent of Miami-Dade residents. Thanks to advances in health science, Boomers are expected to live longer than any other generation in human history so far, but current predictions are that they won’t necessarily be any healthier into old age than preceding generations.
Older people, for both health and financial reasons, are far less likely to be able to drive. And even if they can legally drive, we may wish to encourage another means of transportation. A study out of Carnegie Mellon and AAA found that drivers age 75 to 84 had similar driving safety records as teenagers with a year or less of driving experience. Once an individual reaches 85 years, his or her vehicular fatality rates jumps to nearly four times that of teenagers.
Now, consider how many Americans will reach those ages. According to projections by the U.S. Social Security Administration, the life expectancy of a man who turns 65 today is 83 years old; for a woman, her life expentancy is 85. And those are just the averages, so roughly half of people will live even longer. One out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past 90 years, and one in ten will see 95 years and beyond. What all this amounts to is that the number of Americans, in both raw numbers and as a percentage of the total population, who are unable to drive because of their age will likely grow over the coming decades.
Demographic tides travel slowly through history. If you look closely, you can see them coming from far and away, and if you plan accordingly, you can subvert their sometimes catastrophic legacies. We can see now with clarity that Miami, like much of America, is on the edge of a quality of life pitfall. Absent descisive, purposeful action, a greater share of Miamians will face isolation and dependence than at any other moment in our city’s history.
Whether we solve this issue by making all communities more walkable or by making walkable communities more affordable and accessible is for discussion, but what is unavoidable is the track that we’ve placed ourselves on. It’s a track to a problem that requires solutions that amount to more than developing “lifestyle communities” that define walkable as “100 feet from a Talbot’s, but 1.5 miles from a Publix.” Solutions must encourage neighborhoods where Miamians can live their lives by car if they choose, but continue to live their lives on foot when driving is no longer possible. Otherwise, be prepared to free up some time every Saturday to take Abuela to the foot doctor.
May is National Bike Month. Biking is seeing a nationwide resurgence due to aggressive policies aimed to promote cycling, and as cities and towns in South Florida join the fold by increasing bike infrastructure, now is a particularly good time to bike in the Miami area. If you have a bike that needs a tune up or have been thinking about buying a two-wheeler for a while May is the perfect month to do so!
The bike is up there with man’s greatest inventions. It extends the range one can travel considerably, all while burning no fuel and providing excellent cardiovascular and exercise benefits. In urban traffic conditions, the bike is comparable with cars and public transportation on short/medium trips. One can usually bike around 5 miles in half an hour, which compares quite well with driving that distance under normal traffic conditions, and certainly with taking public transportation (particularly when having to walk to and wait for the bus).
All buses in Miami Dade and Broward County are outfitted with bike extensions. This opens up the possibility of using the bicycle as part of a multimodal trip. If you take multiple rides on your commute, consider biking to replace part of the trip, saving time, money, and enjoying the many exercise benefits of riding.
Of course, going from theory to practice can take some work, so here are some things to consider before hitting the road.
Things you’ll need to bike on the road:
A helmet: it’s not required for those older than 16, it’s usually not comfortable, but it is worth it. Most serious injuries and bike fatalities can be prevented by the simple use of a helmet.
Lights: White for the front, red for the back. Try to get removable ones so they don’t get stolen.
Bell: A loud bell will come in handy, particularly if you are biking on a mixture of roads and sidewalks.
In most places, these common sense accessories are legally required.
If you have never biked in traffic there are easy ways to ease into it. Always stay on the right side of the road. While riding your bike you are legally considered a car and need to obey all traffic laws, stop signs, and lights. Take advantage of the grid and bike down calmer less trafficked streets where possible. Familiarize yourself with the areas in which you want to bike and test out different routes.
One of the frustrating things about biking in the area is that most good bike lanes come to an end at major thoroughfares or ends of towns. But, with a few exceptions, most municipalities in South Florida allow for biking on the sidewalk. Google maps now has an option for bike directions, and smartphone users can use maps to figure out where they are and see which minor trafficked and low speed-limit streets they can take to reach their destinations.
If you don’t have a bike, you can take advantage of low-cost subscriptions to cycle hires like DecoBike in Miami Beach, and B-cycles in Broward County. I would still suggest taking a helmet with you if you plan to use one on the road. These bike systems also make use of smartphone GSP apps, with the deco bike app allowing you to see where you can rent/return bikes. The beauty of this is the short utility trip to the grocery store or other quick stop that would be too short for a car trip but a bit too far to walk. The bike serves as a great equalizer between walking and transit. So if you have been thinking of exercising, cutting down on car/transportation costs, and see the bike as an option I highly suggest giving it a try during this National Bike Month.
Wednesday, May 29 — 6:00pm
Avenue D Jazz and Blues Lounge
8 S. Miami Avenue
[Avenue D is another relatively new downtown bar/lounge representing bar owners' understanding of TOD better than politicians. By far the best way to get there is via the Metromover. Just get off at the Miami Avenue station using the northwest stairway. Avenue D is immediately below the station.]
A panel of of transportation planners and advocates will be on-hand to moderate and stimulate the discussion, including Kelly Cooper, Strategic Planner at the Miami-Dade County Office of the Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT), the primary entity organizing the Summit. At least one official Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) should be present too.
One can also expect to hear commentary from Marta Viciedo, primary organizer of the successful Purple Line | U + Transit pop-up transit station which recently attracted a lot of attention to our community’s public transportation lacuna. TransitMiami alumnus Tony Garcia will also be present, representing his Move Miami-Dade transportation reform initiative.
We confess that here at TransitMiami we very rarely provide reminders for the many events we post. Here’s one posted a couple weeks back that especially warrants a reminder. Save the date: June 6!!!
To register for the event, please visit the registration website at:
The Summit is scheduled to take place at:
Miami-Dade College – Wolfson Campus
Chapman Conference Center 3210
300 NE 2 Ave
Miami FL 33132-2296
There are going to be four break-out sessions in total, with attendees having to choose between one of two topics for the morning and the afternoon sessions. The two morning topics participants have to choose from are as follows (taken directly from the registration website):
Morning Session Topics
Morning Session A: Innovative Financing Opportunities: Transportation projects utilize a wide variety of revenue and funding from federal, state, local, and private sources. With funding for planning and projects becoming increasingly tighter, transportation agencies are employing innovative strategies to finance capital costs.
Morning Session B: State-of-the-Art Transit Technologies and Mode Choice: A key transportation issue for our community is weighing the trade-offs among the various fixed route alternatives. Discover solutions that offer diverse ways to efficiently develop Miami-Dade’s transportation network through ways including bus rapid transit, rail systems, system design, automated guide-ways, etc.
Afternoon Session Topics
Afternoon Session C: Establishing Public Private Partnerships: Understand the importance of new partnership efforts between the private sector and the various levels of government in the state. Also hear about innovative programs in several states and share your experiences.
Afternoon Session D: Corridor and Priorities Planning: The planning and development of multi-modal corridors — “the next big thing project” — starts with consensus among many stakeholders in a region, including the walking, riding, and driving public, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations. Prioritization involves many considerations ranging from design and construction of infrastructure to community values in areas such as mobility needs and desired land uses. These themes cut across bus (bus rapid transit, exclusive bus lanes, etc.) and rail systems (underground, elevated, and surface alignments), as well as stations, etc.
The County seems to be taking this event quite seriously too. This could be it, folks! This could be the year that we start to build a broad, diverse, determined coalition of the progressive to finally push for an environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and economically vibrant set of mobility solutions. It’s time we brought Miami into the 21st century. This Summit could be our chance!
Needless to say, then, our community needs your participation!
To register for the event, please visit the registration website at:
The Summit is scheduled to take place at:
Miami-Dade College – Wolfson Campus
Chapman Conference Center 3210
300 NE 2 Ave
Miami FL 33132-2296
For the future of Miami, let’s make this event bigger and more momentous than any of us could hope . . .
Local politicians are finally beginning to get on-board with bicycle and pedestrian justice!
The smarter ones are beginning to realize that the remainder of their political careers will be determined by their commitment to active transportation and livable urbanism here in greater Miami.
Tuesday, May 21 — 9:15am
Board of County Commissioners Meeting
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center
10950 SW 211 Street
Cutler Bay, Florida 33189
Forty years since the publication of a visionary transportation planning document, the shortcomings of Miami-Dade County’s transportation reality suggest that we lost our vision somewhere along the highway, literally.
TransitMiami invites you to take brief trip through time . . .
The year is 1973. The Dade County Public Works Department has just released its State Transportation Programs Proposal for Dade County 1973-74.
In it, a chapter titled Mass Transit (pp. 72-98) makes declarations of a new “beginning on development of a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County”, in which “non-highway elements” are stressed to be at least part of the solution to Dade County’s burgeoning population and economy.
Indeed, there seems to be a fundamentally new consciousness — dare I say, a paradigm shift — reorienting the urban planning and public policy realms away from highways and toward mass transit.
The beginning of that Mass Transit chapter reads:
Metropolitan Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation in recent years have become increasingly active in planning the improvement of mass transit facilities. With less emphasis on highways alone, programming efforts have been broadened to multi-modal transportation facilities, including airports, seaports, rapid transit, terminals for truck, rail and bus companies, as well as the highway and street system that serves them and provides local traffic needs.
There’s a sense that perhaps the mid-20th century notion of highways being the transportation panacea has finally begun to lose potency. A more holistic, more enlightened view has apparently begun to gain traction, one which posits that transportation corridors and corresponding land-uses perform best when designed to serve the myriad means and purposes of mobility, as well as the urban environment’s diversity of functions.
Here are some of the major mass transit proposals from the report:
- 53.7 miles of high-speed transit served by 54 stations,
- bus routes operating on expressways and arterial streets,
- feeder bus routes to complement other bus routes and rapid transit,
- mini-systems at selected transit terminals to provide local circulation and link traffic generating areas with rapid transit.
Fast-forward 40 years into the future. The year is 2013.
FDOT and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) — and the construction, automobile, and petroleum lobbies — actively and aggressively seek to expand highways.
Tax payers are being charged $560,000,000 (that’s right: more than half a billion!) for the highway expansion mega-project at the SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway) and SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway) Interchange.
Real estate developers eager to cash-in on building single-family cookie-cutter homes along the urban periphery in the west and south of the County lobby to transgress the Urban Development Boundary (UDB). Residential sprawl continues to lower the quality of life on the edges of the city.
Eager to keep its agency coffers growing, MDX writes hyperbolic reports emphasizing inflated demographic growth projections on these suburban outskirts, thereby seeking to further justify its southwestward expansion of SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway). MDX advocates for expanding tolled highways in order to generate increased revenues aimed at the perpetual expansion of highways in greater Miami.
Those same city-destroying developers-of-sprawl back MDX — as do all others in the broader network of profiteers — because they perceive as far too lucrative to forego the opportunity to cash-in on pushing the boundary of Miami further into the Everglades and into our fresh water supplies.
Even on roads that have long exhausted their traditional function as “highways”, MDX pursues measures to retrofit them so as to restore their obsolete highway-performing characteristics. This is epitomized by MDX’s “US-1 Express Lanes”, whereby the agency hopes to reduce the dedicated South Dade busways to accommodate new tolled arterial travel lanes for private motorists, as well as, most notoriously, create elevated overpasses (that is, create more “HIGH-ways”).
Meanwhile, our mere 23-station elevated heavy-rail Metrorail system traverses a very linear (and thus limited), virtually-non-networked 25 miles, including the recently added, yet long-overdue, Miami International Airport / Orange Line extension. This is literally less than half the of the 54 stations and 53.7 miles of rail network envisioned in the planning document from 40 years earlier.
Planned expansions to the Metrorail intended to create a true network have been scrapped due to a lack of political will to secure dedicated funding sources, along with an over-abundance of administrative incompetence and corruption.
After decades of false starts, broken promises, gross mismanagement of public funds, and outright political apathy, the time is now to regain the vision put forth four decades ago. The time is now to withdraw ourselves from our toxic addiction to the 20th century model of single-occupancy vehicles congested on highways. We must stop supporting those who seek to destroy our collective public spaces for personal gain through the incessant construction of highways.
The time of the highway is over. The time for “a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County” is now.
Has Miami-Dade County lost its vision for public transit over the last 40 years? — most definitely. However, one can find solace in the fact that this is not the Miami of 1973, nor of ’83, ’93, or ’03. We are no longer the Miami of the past.
This is the Miami of 2013. This is our time. It is up to us to set forward — and bring to fruition — the vision for the Miami of 2053 . . . and beyond.
Ladies and gentlemen: We present to you an important, visionary opportunity to support the creation of not only the first private railway network linking Miami and Orlando via the All Aboard Florida initiative, but also a recreational trail along that same 230-mile stretch!
All Aboard Florida is the ambitious project intended to link Miami and the greater Southeast Florida region with Orlando and the greater Central Florida region. It’s something we at TransitMiami are particularly excited about, and, frankly, you should be too!
What’s even more exciting, though, is the vision being advanced by the non-profit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. With our (meaning the people’s) support, Rails-to-Trails hopes to make a small but significant modification to the All Aboard Florida railway plan: ADD A TRAIL!
That’s right, along with connecting Miami to Orlando with a much-needed railway, why not add a multi-use trail connecting these nodes (and everything in between) too?!
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is asking for our help in this regard with the following message:
Imagine traveling from Miami to Orlando by rail-trail!
It could happen, thanks to a new rail expansion project called All Aboard Florida. But your voice is needed to make sure rail-trail opportunities are included in the plan.
All Aboard Florida is a proposed rail connection between Miami and Orlando. This rail line will be America’s first privately built, privately maintained inter-city rail services since the creation of Amtrak.
The best part is that the 230-mile rail corridor also provides an excellent opportunity for trails alongside the railway.
Right now, the FRA is in the early stages preparing an environmental impact study of All Aboard Florida — and they’re accepting public comments through Wednesday, May 15. It’s the perfect time for you to speak out for the inclusion of rail-trails in the plan!
The window for submitting public commentary on this possibility is about to be closed, so be sure to submit your message of support for the addition of a trail alongside the All Aboard Florida railway as soon as possible.
Here we go again… A few weeks ago there was another crash on Brickell Avenue and SW 15th Road. This is the sixth incident in about 3 years that I have seen debris from crashes at the exact same location. I’m not sure what FDOT and the city of Miami are waiting for, but apparently nothing will be done here until someone is killed. Sadly this will likely happen within the next three years.
The Echo Brickell project has just been announced and construction will begin soon at the very exact location where all these crashes have occurred. This project will have 175 units with retail on the ground floor. If the design of the road remains the same, we should expect a nasty accident with a lot of injuries once the project is completed. FDOT and the city of Miami have been put on notice. If nothing is done immediately both will have blood on their hands.
You can also send an email to FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to see if they plan to do anything to address the design speed on Brickell Avenue. I think it is evident that we have a problem here.
Is the optimal place for bicyclists really between speeding traffic and swinging car doors or is bicycle planning in most cities still just an afterthought? Can it really be the case that major arterial roadways planned for reconstruction like Alton Road in Miami Beach which are between 100′ and 120′ really have no room for bicycles?
The plan for Alton Road which the City of Miami Beach approved is still the wrong one but neighborhood organizations are not accepting that the plan is set in stone until the concrete is poured and dry.
Though Miami Beach is in the top 10 cities in the nation for biking to work according to the US Census, a perfect storm of Department of Transportation heavy-handedness, local bureaucratic impassivity, and ineptitude on the part of elected representatives has led to a hugely expensive design no one endorses. Alton Road, expected to become a showpiece of island multi-modalism, will instead become a wide-lane, high-speed, completely-congested Department of Transportation boondoggle say residents. If Miami Beach can’t get a multi-modal design with its committed and educated pedestrian and cycling advocates is there any hope for the rest of the country?
Thousands of major arterials around the country are in the process of reconstruction right now as the first roadways of the Highway Act of 1956 are being rebuilt. And despite the amazing strides made in a few exceptional places, the default design on the traffic engineer’s books is still the wrong one. The difference now is that residents know better. This is making the job of elected officials who have always trusted the DOT very difficult. Something’s got to give.
Residents are available to discuss this important issue further.
On Facebook: Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition.
On the web:
Miami Beach Resident and Urban Planner
May 1st “news release” from the Florida Department of Transportation & Florida Turnpike Enterprise:
Florida’s Turnpike will host open house Tuesday, May 14, to discuss proposed widening project in Miami-Dade County
The Florida Department of Transportation, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, will host a public information meeting/open house to discuss the project development and environment study for the proposed widening of Florida’s Turnpike from Campbell Drive (Exit 2) to U.S. 1 (Exit 12) in Miami-Dade County.
The informal open house meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at Miami-Dade College Homestead Campus, Building F, 500 College Terrace, Homestead, Florida 33030.
The public is invited to attend and express their views concerning the location and conceptual design, as well as the social, economic and environmental effects of the proposed improvements. Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise representatives will be available to discuss the project and answer questions.
The proposed 11-mile project will add roadway capacity to meet existing and future travel demand for the year 2040. [Really?]
For more information or to provide comments about this project, please contact Project Manager Henry Pinzon at email@example.com or 1-800-749-PIKE, ext. 3802.
Your participation is needed, Miami-Dade County!
- Do we wish to use our tax dollars to further expand (tolled) highways?
- How is FDOT deriving its population growth and land-use change projections for 2040?
- Do we wish to expand highways to accommodate, intensify, and accelerate the already rampant suburban sprawl in the southern parts of Miami-Dade County?
The following is an urgent update by Brickell resident Mark Batey on the crash that killed a pedestrian in Brickell on March 23rd. This crash happened in nearly the same exact spot where a female jogger was seriously injured on the sidewalk by a speeding driver in October.
“Miamians, please share this update. 4 weeks ago Ana Mares was killed in a hit and run in Brickell Bay Drive. I have been in touch with her sister, who is becoming desperate at the lack of progress in this case. Her family is beginning to receive the medical bills, which are huge, and apparently the person whose car hit Ana has no insurance.
The owner of the vehicle is named as Joy Terry Lee Clayton. She lives at 21455 87 court SW Miami Dade, and works at the legal department of University of Miami. She has got a lawyer and is saying that although the car that hit Ana is hers, she was not driving it herself!
Ana Mares was hit with such force that she was thrown 65 feet. Her sister is convinced she was already dead at the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, the person who did this is still driving around the streets of Miami.
The black Mazda shown in the video is apparently not the actual one that hit Ana. The one that hit Ana has some lighter colored panels (either for effect, or because work was being done on the car).
If you have any information, the lead detective can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share and let’s help get justice for Ana, who, by the way, was a cancer survivor.
Editors Note: We’ve been appalled at the lack of media coverage or official police, city, or elected official communication in response to this fatal crash. Brickell is the densest residential neighborhood south of New York City. This senseless death has not been given the attention it deserves. It’s reasonable to believe there were more witnesses that would come forward. Meanwhile, this criminal is still on the lose, driving around Miami. Please contact the Miami detective above if you have any information.
This just reinforces our call for Brickell Bay Drive to be given a ‘road diet’ to reduce the travel lanes to 2, and including a buffered bicycle lane with on-street curbside parking. This would dramatically improve safety conditions for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists while having minimal impact on vehicle traffic flow. In other words, make Brickell Bay Drive a Complete Street to better accommodate all users of this road. Brickell has undergone a transformation but our streets are still stuck in the past, making merely going about your daily business a dangerous endeavor. Our suggested reconfiguration of Brickell Bay Drive can be done with a few cans of paint – seems worth it for a road with such an atrocious safety record lately.
Also, please sign on to the “Stay on the Scene” initiative to strengthen Florida’s hit and run laws in response to the crash that killed cyclist Aaron Cohen on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Our friends at All Aboard Florida (AAF) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announce a series of Public Scoping Meetings/Open Houses concerning the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of constructing and operating an intercity passenger rail service linking Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. The same content will presented at each meeting.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel – Milan Ballroom
5445 Forbes Place
Orlando, FL 32812
Monday, May 6, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Culmer Center – Multipurpose Room
1600 NW 3rd Ave.
Miami, FL 33136
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Gaines Park Community Center – Addie Greene Hall East
1505 N. Australian Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Thursday, May 9, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Havert L. Fenn Center – Room 5
2000 Virginia Ave.
Fort Pierce, FL 34982
A pedestrian bridge above US-1 at the University MetroRail station was recently approved by Miami-Dade County and is currently moving closer to an agreement. Though a state and federally funded project of $6 million, the University Centre mall owner has raised some concerns and is refusing to allow the county to build the bridge on its property. The bridge to channel university students, middle school students, metrorail riders, and others to the popular strip mall has been in the works for several years, joining the other existing US-1 overpasses. The Pedestrian Safety Access Committee formed with the long-term goal to build the pedestrian bridge in direct response to 3 student fatalities at the intersection since 1990, along with several accidents.
Looking at this situation at face value, this project makes perfect sense: people are dying on the intersection, so take the people off the intersection. But I challenge you to stand back and examine the bigger picture of crossing US-1 at this intersection and every other one in Coral Gables, South Miami, and beyond. Is the problem uniquely at this intersection, or along the entire stretch of the fast-moving, 6-lane highway? Due to very high speeds, awkward street-level pedestrian crossings, unbuffered and narrow sidewalks, and poor street lighting, I think we can agree that this stretch is hostile to non-motorists. Michelle Simmon, public involvement coordinator for Miami-Dade Transit stated back in 2007 that ‘the main purpose of the long-term bridge project is to encourage pedestrian safety while making the Coral Gables community more “walkable.” Yes, ‘channeling’ pedestrians into a bridge does have the potential of keeping pedestrians safe, but does it encourage walkability?
Pedestrian Convenience. A walkable community is possible when the built environment is convenient to the pedestrian, bicyclist, student, parent with baby stroller, etc. Making decisions that inhibit pedestrian convenience such as narrowing sidewalks, reducing crosswalks, ‘forcing’ people to go up and over a street – then these decisions make the built environment inconvenient and therefore, less walkable. But if we redesign the street to discourage speeding, add wider sidewalks buffered from vehicular traffic, pedestrian street lighting, and common-sense street-level crossings (and using a lot less than the $6 million) we could achieve both safety and walkability for all road users.
Neighborhood Unity. Instead of creating a street that welcomes its neighbors, we are making decisions (like numerous pedestrian bridges) that add up toward creating an automobile sewer. This is the root of the problem, and the reason for these vehicular deaths in the first place – we are literally trying to put a highway into the middle of a community. Why are we surprised that pedestrians, students, children are trying to cross the street in their own neighborhood? Instead of encouraging to further dissect this area, we need to consider the potential to transform this massive right-of-way into the safe neighborhood center the university, middle school, and residents deserve.
Traffic Priorities. The problem in this dangerous intersection is not the pedestrians, but the unobservant drivers. But who are we punishing? the pedestrians. And who are we prioritizing for dominion over the street even more? the drivers, observant or not. A walkable neighborhood is not void of cars, drivers, and traffic, but rather re-prioritizes its road space to accommodate a full range of transportation choices. Slowing traffic down does not guarantee more congestion either. In fact, some of the most efficient roads in the world are in slow-speed, walkable environments. By humanizing the thoroughfare with better street-level crossings, lighting, wider sidewalks, street trees, narrower traffic lanes, and even on-street parking, we can effectively slow traffic, and persuade drivers to be more alert, attentive, and vigilant, fostering a safer atmosphere for all.
If building this University Station pedestrian bridge could save just one life, then yes, its construction is more than worth it. But what’s next in encouraging safety and walkability? Are we going to continue constructing pedestrian bridges at every intersection over Dixie Highway – and with whose funds? And does that leave the people who will still cross at street level with a more dangerous thoroughfare? I challenge this community, the Pedestrian Safety Access Committee, Miami-Dade County, FDOT, and others involved to improve the pedestrian experience on the street level. In many ways the easiest solution is to build the pedestrian bridge. However, six million dollars can provide a lot of funding for this community if our residents and leaders are brave enough to tackle the root of the problem. We should not take these deaths lightly, but we do need to consider the full range of options to improve the safety, convenience, and value of the US-1 corridor. Just as Michelle Simmon from Miami-Dade Transit stated, “A livable community has to be a safe community.” By humanizing this dangerous, dissecting thoroughfare, we can not only save lives, but also our community.
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