Posts by: Community Commentary

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

 

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.

 

By: Eli Stiers, Esq. and Leah Weston, J.D.

We were disappointed by dismissive statements of Miami-Dade County Commissioner and Chair of the Finance Committee, Esteban Bovo, at the recent public meeting on the County’s annual budget.  Bovo’s comments have been memorialized in a YouTube video posted by Ms. Weston.  In response to a request that the Commission prioritize funding for better public transit, Commissioner Bovo displayed an outdated perspective that is out of sync with the needs of our ever-growing community.

While acknowledging his own frustration with the paucity of our transit options, compared to cities like Paris and Washington, D.C., Commissioner Bovo lamented that living without better access to transit is a “sad reality about Miami.”  We could not agree more. We further contend that lack of better public transit is preventing Miami from joining the roster of world-class cities.

Where we strongly disagree with Commissioner Bovo is with his indifference to the status quo.  His statements that Miami’s “car culture” is “in our DNA,” and that it would be difficult for people to leave their cars and “stand in the hot sun” to wait for a bus are problematic.  We think that Miamians choose to sit in cars for hours on crowded interstates because they lack other options.  Indeed, when the only option is to wait for a bus in the Miami heat, most will choose a car.  Those who cannot afford a car, on the other hand, are left to cope with our chronically underfunded and underperforming transit system.

Commissioner Bovo’s comprehension of how transit inadequacies affect immigrants and retirees is similarly flawed.  The Commissioner dubiously claimed that immigrants and retirees come to Miami seeking the freedom of the open road after leaving other parts of the world that usually have better transit options than we have in Miami.  To the contrary, immigrants and retirees, frequently of low and moderate incomes, are more dependent on transit than any other demographic.  This is bad news for Miami – an area recently documented by the Center for Housing Policy to be the least affordable place in the country for middle-to-lower income families, due to combined housing and transportation costs, which account for a whopping 72% of income!

Offer the public something better, like an expanded Metrorail service that truly links our community, and our guess is that many Miamians will abandon the stress of the daily commute on I-95, US-1, 826, and 836 for the comfort of an air-conditioned train car, and the chance to read a book, answer e-mails, or take a nap on the way to work or school. It is not a “small segment” asking for better transit in our community. To the contrary, Miamians are desperate for better transit. Don’t blame the culture and concede defeat—find a way to move this city forward.

In his final comments on the video, Commissioner Bovo segued into a discussion about road construction, undoubtedly to allocate more millions from the budget for an ever-expanding morass of highways, which are antiquated and overcrowded from the moment they are opened.  This kind of thinking is outdated, and this method of addressing transportation in our rapidly-expanding metro area is unsustainable.

We agree with the Commissioner: our transit woes stem from a lack of leadership and vision for our community.  We are frustrated, however, that despite recognizing the problem, and being uniquely situated to address it, he seems unwilling to fix it.  We challenge Commissioner Bovo and the rest of the County Commission (who also make up the majority of the MPO Board) to change their thinking about public transit in the County.  With better leadership and vision, Miami-Dade County can have a real mass transit system in Commissioner Bovo’s lifetime, contrary to his belief.  As an elected official, you cannot throw hands up and claim that the dreadful status quo will never change.  You must be the impetus for that change.

Eli Stiers is a Miami attorney with Aronovitz Law, Director of Safe Streets Miami, and Board Member with Green Mobility Network.

Leah Weston in a founding Board Member of TrAC and a recent graduate of UM School of Law who is currently studying for the Florida Bar.

 

IMG_2460

 

Just when you thought the pedestrian experience on Brickell Ave couldn’t get any worse, it has! The city is installing some new car-centric billboards on the sidewalks of Brickell Ave.  We already had a number of them and now we are getting more. These billboards unnecessarily block the already narrow and dangerous sidewalks of Brickell Ave. As you will note from these pictures, the billboards are being installed right in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking pedestrians and bicyclists, and making for even more hazardous conditions. They could have been installed parallel (instead of perpendicular) and as far back as possible, but I imagine that would not cater to the cars stuck in traffic. Not only are they an obstacle and unsightly, they are dangerous. Someone is going to be seriously injured as a result of these billboards. Just yesterday I witnessed a lady with a stroller walking around one of these billboards, having to move so close to the street that her stroller was within inches of passing cars. Those who approved these sidewalk billboards must not walk regularly on Brickell Ave.  These advertisements are evidence of the car-centric culture and general disregard for pedestrians in the city of Miami. No amount of revenue is worth the inconvenience and hazards they billboards pose. I hope that our Brickell area representative in the city, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, will do all in his power to remove (or at least move) these billboards so that our sidewalks are safer for the increasing number of residents, workers, and visitors that walk our streets.

Carlos Abril

IMG_2445

 

 

 

 

bike1

A grant opportunity is available and we thought of YOU! Do you want to help cultivate more young cyclists and teach children how to maintain, ride and enjoy a bike!? Click on the following link to learn more about the Rails-to-Trails and UHP South Florida Earn-a-Bike Grant opportunity. Feel free to forward this opportunity to any organization that you think might be interested. In the meantime, thank you for helping create more biking opportunities in South Florida!
Click here to fill out the form: Rails-to-Trails “Earn-a-Bike” RFQ

 

We received the following press release.  Hope to see some of you this Thursday.

Miami’s new Transit Action Committee — or TrAC for short — a citizen-organized political action committee, is proud to announce its formation and official launch this week.

TrAC was founded in response to the lack of political will in Miami behind transit improvement, resulting in limited transit options, inadequate bus and rail systems, unsafe bike and pedestrian infrastructure. TrAC seeks to shift how voters in Miami think about development, traffic, and growth — moving away from a car-centric mentality toward a long-term vision for a city planned and designed for people and communities.
 
On Thursday, September 5th at 6 pm, TrAC will officially kick off with a launch party at Blackbird Ordinary. Guest speakers include & speakers Katy Sorenson, President & CEO of the Good Government Initiative, and Carol Coletta, new Vice President for Community & National Initiatives at Knight Foundation.
 
The party is free to attend, and contributions to help launch TrAC are welcomed. Contributions can be made online here: www.tracmiami.org/contribute.
 
The first organization of its kind in Miami, TrAC, a non-partisan committee, will support candidates, elected officials, and policy initiatives dedicated to improving the quality and safety of our transit and planning choices, as well as the expansion and growth of our public transportation options.
 
————-
TrAC believes the development of transportation options is key to Miami’s future growth and viability.  Improved mobility options will in turn benefit a variety of factors: access, opportunity, environment, quality of life, health, community growth, economic development and the building of social capital. TrAC envisions a city where transportation is based on choice and convenience; where residents are not encumbered under one dominant and limited mobility option, but instead enjoy ‘Freedom in Movement’.

Microsoft Word - TrAC Launch Party Flyer_Final.docx

 

Dear Transit Miami  -

I was scratching around some MIC and Miami Central Station documents and came upon a curious piece of information: FDOT is negotiating with MDX to assume the governance of Miami Central Station. I find it curious that MDX, a road-building entity, would be charged with governing Miami Central Station – shouldn’t those responsibilities fall to Miami-Dade Transit or, given the regional implications, to SFRTA? I can see MDX running the Car Rental Center, after all  it’s sole purpose is to feed tourists onto MDX’s adjacent highways, the 112 and 836 – undermining the metrorail link to the airport and any longer-term plans for a direct rapid transit link to Miami Beach, but Central Station? Give me a break!

What’s most curious about the arrangement between FDOT and MDX is the transfer of a an 8 acre property east of Central Station for “Joint Development.” I didn’t realize MDX was now looking to jump into Miami’s crowded development market. Doesn’t this parcel seem ripe for Transit-Oriented Development? Shouldn’t a Public Private Partnership be the first alternative? I think so. MDX will apparently develop the property to help “offset” the costs of operating Central Station (as if their toll revenue couldn’t be spared in the first place) and will include a possible mix of Hotel, Conference Center, Office, Retail, oh – and parking, of course. 

Let’s not forget too that MDX had developed concepts for a future SR 836/ SR 112 connector and had floated the idea of a “Central Corridor” Highway that would be built above Tri-Rail.

Best,

Another Concerned Citizen against MDX’s Overreaches  

 

 

FYI, here is some information on an issue that Transit Miami has covered in the past.

The contract for the widening of SW 157th Ave. from SW 184 St. to SW 152 St., an unneeded development on the Urban Development Boundary, is surely going to be approved at the meetings July 17 of the CITT Project and Financial Review Committee (4 p.m. 10th Floor CITT Conference Room, 111 NW 1 Street) and of the full CITT (6 p.m., Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners’ Chambers).

Tomorrow, in the citizens’ comment time of the Project and Financial Review Committee, I intend to raise questions related to the Urban Development Boundary and environmental issues.

Once again the supporting documents for this contract make no mention that the entire road segment in question is bordered on its western side by the UDB and agricultural land.

However, while the current road is within the UDB, a portion of the expanded road will be outside to the west of the current UDB.  Does all this intended construction outside the UDB require special legal approval to move the UDB westward or to permit this intrusion within the area projected by the UDB?

Are there any plans to mitigate the environmental impact of the construction and of the completed widened road?

And a third question: If the contractor needs new hiring, will the contractor be complying with the Miami-Dade First Source Ordinance requiring receipt and consideration of qualified applications provided by South Florida Workforce?

 

Sincerely,

Theodore Wilde, former CITT member

 

ped safety little havana

Everyone knows that Miami has a serious problem with pedestrian injuries and fatalities; not a week goes by without reading an article about another pedestrian struck by a car. Miami is the 4th most dangerous city for pedestrians and cyclists in the Country right now.

This must change!

We live in one of the most beautiful, perfect climates in the world, yet stepping out our doors for a walk can be fatal. With Emerge Miami, I began organizing walks for pedestrian safety last year in response to this ongoing crisis. The concept is simple, during the time that pedestrians are legally allowed to enter the crosswalk, we have people with educational signs and statistics about pedestrians injuries and fatalities walk back and forth through the crosswalk. We also have educational materials to hand drivers and pedestrians.

Our next walk is in Little Havana on June 29th, a lovely neighborhood that should be safe and walkable, yet speeding cars and infrequent crosswalks make it a extremely dangerous for walkers, especially the many more elderly residents who live there.

As part of our walk we are asking that pedestrians who have been injured, and their families, to come out and join our walk to help put a personal face on this epidemic of injury and death.

For more information or to get involved please contact Elsa Roberts at eroberts@mtu.edu. To RSVP to the event go to Meetup or Facebook.

Tagged with:
 

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.

alton

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?

8701885064_8c8e3cd237

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.

Click here to visit the official website for the initiative.

On Facebook: Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition.

On the web:

Thanks,
Jason King
Miami Beach Resident and Urban Planner

1The following is a guest post by Matthew González, a pedestrian, cyclist, and in-denial vegetarian who blogs his adventures at mgregueiro.com. He formerly worked in Miami with Teach For America and now lives in Spain doing research as a Fulbright Fellow. He launched mgregueiro.com as a place to discuss great ideas with the many great minds hiding throughout the wrinkles and corners of the interwebs. Check out his blog, or follow him at @mgregueiro to join the conversation.

2

In 2010, 4,280 pedestrians and 618 cyclists were killed by motor vehicles in the United States. The most dangerous state? Florida, with 4.40 pedalcyclist fatalities per million population. Though some states have worked to lower this number by painting bike lanes and posting “Share The Road” signs, it is time American cities move from this temporary solution to a more permanent one: designing streets that serve motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

The problem with “Share The Road” signs is that they pin cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians against each other by making them responsible for outcomes, i.e., when a cyclist gets hit by a car it must be the cyclist’s or motorist’s fault. This thinking, however, doesn’t go deep enough and will not bring the much needed solutions.

These fatalities are caused by a systemic failure of our city infrastructure to provide safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. Legislators must understand that “Share The Road” signs are no more than construction signs: they represent the need for work to be done on our city’s roads, not the outcome. Cycling and jogging/running are the two most popular outdoor activities among Americans and it is time our city infrastructure reflect it.

3
The History of “Share The Road”

Living in cities designed for and around the car, it is easy to forget that walking and cycling predate the automobile as primary modes of transportation. In fact, crosswalks and bike lanes were a consequence of automobile companies lobbying for changes in street design to make traveling by automobile more practical and lessen the hatred of motorists. (For a brief history on this shift in city design, check out this great TEDx talk by Mikael Colville-Andersen: Bicycle Culture by Design)

By the early 1960s, cyclists had lost the battle for America’s streets: roads were for motorists. But in 1967, cyclists won a major victory with the creation of the first modern bike lane in Davis, California. And twenty years later, the now iconic “Share The Road” sign was adopted by the North Carolina Board of Transportation – now the Department of Transportation Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation (A tip of the helmet to the Tar Heel state).

Unfortunately, more than twenty years later, cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians are still fighting to share the road. And looking at the number of pedestrian and cycling deaths caused by motorist each year, pedestrians and cyclists are losing.

washington_dc_cycle_track

Looking Past “Share The Road”

The solution to these unnecessary deaths is no secret. Denmark and The Netherlands boast the highest number of cyclists per capita. According to a 2011 study published in Injury Prevention, “27% of Dutch trips are by bicycle, 55% are women, and the bicyclist injury rate is 0.14 injured/million km. In the USA, 0.5% of commuters bicycle to work, only 24% of adult cyclists are women, and the injury rate of bicyclists is at least 26 times greater than in the Netherlands.”(Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street)

What is the difference between the US and these countries? Our streets.

The Netherlands has more than 1,800 miles of cycle tracks: bicycle paths that are separated from the street by a physical barrier. Meanwhile American cyclists are still fighting for bike lanes, that are easily ignored by motorist.

To bring an end to these unnecessary deaths, America’s cities need complete streets: roads designed to serve the needs of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. This approach to city infrastructure is not imaginary, it has proven itself to be successful in The Netherlands, Denmark, and many other nations. Moreover, looking at the drastic paradigm shift that swept the nation after the car, it is clear that the US can again change the way our cities approach road design.

Tagged with:
 

Plusurbia-PortSideMiami-1

A team of urban designers and architects, led by Miami based firm PlusUrbia*, were among the finalists for their design concept of ‘Port-Side’, Miami’s World Trade Center’s future commercial destination.

The team developed a concept coined “Port-Side Miami” to become the city’s new commercial district on the west end of the Port’s Dodge Island, which was designated by the “PortMiami 2035 master plan” to be developed into office space, retail, restaurants and a number of high-end hotels.

Plusurbia-PortSideMiami-2

In an invitation-only RFQ for a master plan, the designers were given a set of parameters that dictated an intricate solution by means of phasing the project over time in order to minimize the effect on the port’s functions and to retain the existing buildings until the last phase. In addition, PlusUrbia’s team, following the RFQ’s guidelines, refrained to design specific buildings and maintained a generic/volumetric look to the design with the intention of later engaging other architects to provide the architecture.

Endowed with a privileged location, the site affords its buildings with outstanding views of Miami, Key Biscayne and South Beach. As such, Port-Side was designed to become a key upscale destination for residents and visitors alike, including retail, office and hotels that would provide round the clock activity as well as supporting one of the busiest cruise ship and cargo terminals in the US. The project aimed to transform Port Miami into an anchor for South Florida as well as setting a new standard for waterfront development.

The master plan’s building disposition was designed to emphasize its iconic nature while using downtown Miami’s scale and intensity as reference. Port-Side’s master plan is envisioned as an immediate extension of downtown while maintaining its identifiable urban island feel.

The proposal would become a destination by simply its physical attributes, engaging the water’s edge in a variety of ways (pedestrian and vehicular promenades, plazas and waterfront parks) supported by shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants on the water.

The new district retrofits and extends existing infrastructure (Caribbean Way) as its pedestrian and bicycle access extending the City of Miami’s plans for its river-walk that connects the river to Bayside Marketplace, Bayfront Park and proposed future plans that may possibly include other means of public transportation.

 

*PlusUrbia Design in collaboration with GSHstudio, OskiStudio and studioLFA

 

This article was written by Peter Smith

Tuesday marked the culmination of the Carnival season, celebrated as Mardi Gras in the French-speaking world and Carnival in the rest of Continental Europe and throughout Latin America. Our Brazilian neighbors throw the world’s largest Carnival celebrations and other festivals dotting the Caribbean are an impressive show, to be sure. It would make sense then for Miami, home to so many Brazilians, Jamaicans, Trinis, Colombians, etc., to have a noteworthy Carnival celebration of our own. But we don’t. Instead, we take our cues from the rest of the United States and the Anglo world in being among the only places in the West, save for New Orleans and a few Midwest locales, not joining in on the party.

Admittedly, there are enviably grandiose Carnival celebrations in London and Toronto, but these were re-imported by Trinidadian and Jamaican immigrants. I say “re-imported,” of course, because the English-speaking world used to celebrate a variation of Carnival along with the rest of the Christian world. So what happened to our party?

Dating back to the 12th century, towns in the British Isles celebrated Shrove Tuesday on the final day of Shrovetide just before the start of the Lenten season. The word “shrove” is the past-tense of “shrive,” meaning to confess. Christians prepared for Lent by engaging in one final round of indulgence and succumbing to temptation before confessing their sins on the eve of Ash Wednesday. Shrove Tuesday is actually still celebrated today in much of the English-speaking world, but in a form much different than its original tradition. Today, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday and is celebrated with a pancake dinner, often in church basements or around dining room tables.

There used to be more to Shrove Tuesday than just pancakes, however. There used to be street festivals, music, dancing, and drinking, all centered around a mob football match held in the village streets and town squares. These festivities date back as far as the 1100s and, although they evolved independently from the Carnival traditions of Continental Europe, they closely resembled those celebrations. After all, if you’re preparing for forty days of fasting, abstinence, sacrifice, and penance, how else would you spend your final days of freedom if not by engaging in lecherous debauchery?

All the fun came to a halt in 1835 when the British Parliament passed the Highway Act. The Highway Act prohibited, among other things, playing football on public highways. In today’s context, this seems like a fair request: don’t play soccer on the highway, but it carried a slightly different meaning in those days. Highways referred to any public roads, of which there may have only been one or two in smaller towns. Highways almost always went straight through a town’s center and sometimes even included the village square. Playing football on public highways was quite common, as common as playing in a public park is today. Public highways were also likely the only space available to accommodate the large mob football matches and their accompanying festivities that characterized the Shrovetide season.

So when the Highway Act of 1835 banned football on public highways, it effectively also killed Shrove Tuesday.

The Highway Act became the law of the land in England, Scotland, Wales and all of Ireland. It also took effect in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. A decade after its passage, the Great Famine struck in Ireland, prompting nearly four million Irish to immigrate to the United States. They did not bring with them their Shrovetide traditions, which had been destroyed years earlier by the Highway Act, and so, as Irish culture shaped American life in the second half of the nineteenth century, there was no tradition of Shrovetide or Carnival or Mardi Gras left to build on. It never took hold in the United States.

There is still a smattering of nostalgia-laden Shrovetide celebrations throughout England, and they’re mostly in small villages so remote that public highways did not reach them in 1835. They’re a world away from Miami, but they offer an insight into what Carnival in Miami may have looked like if the Highway Act had not killed Shrovetide in the English-speaking world. To be fair, they probably by now would have been remolded in the image of Latin American Carnival. But instead, when immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean transformed Miami beginning in the 1950s, the new arrivals found no Shrove Tuesday here to mold.

Miami is billed as the Gateway to Latin America and the Capital of Latin America. It is a bilingual city: Spanish and English, often in that order. Yet, we do not participate in the single most important date on the social calendar of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking world.

Perhaps the new settlers of Miami will one day establish a Carnival tradition here or maybe those of us already here will finally say that enough is enough and we want in on the fun too. Until then, when your friends and families are sharing Carnival photos from around the world on Twitter and Instagram, remember to quietly curse the British Parliament and their Highway Act for our absence from what clearly looks to be a very fun time.

 

This just in from a very reliable Transit Miami tipster:

Just tried to cross here and had to dodge 2 cop cars blocking crosswalks and ramps. Strollers did not have a chance. Typical horrifying scenario but made worse by the police. There looked to be a minor fender bender north of 9th. No need for any crosswalks to be blocked especially at this already hectic area.

There was an officer near and I pointed out a stroller trying to maneuver the curb and cop car scenario and suggested it was dangerous to have a car there. Maybe they could move off the ramp area or help strollers and elderly by directing traffic since there seemed to be an inordinate number of officers there. I counted at least 9. She proceeded to scream at me. Calling me stupid at one point even. I calmly walked away and she continued to berate me. Asking my age for some reason and threatening to arrest me for interfering with her investigation. Ridiculous. Her info is below. I took pics but wished I had filmed the officer go nuts.  It would go viral I am sure. Not sure if you can or should do anything with this info but here it is. http://cops.heraldtribune.com/Officer/Details/52406

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 1.19.07 PM

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 1.19.30 PM

 

 

This post was submitted to us this morning by Patricia Peña.

Dadeland mall is probably one of the biggest landmarks that Miami has, right next to South Beach and the Triple A (well, at least in my opinion). When it first opened in the 80s, it was the beginning of Miami’s eternal love with suburban sprawl, which has resulted in Kendall, a place that most Miamians have a love/hate relationship with. You can’t wait to get out of Kendall, but you’ll rep it until the day you die, in true Miami style! Sunset Knights, wha what?! Sorry, that was a momentary lapse…

Back to Dadeland. In the last few years, they have tried to revitalize the area, rebrand it as Downtown Dadeland (it’s unincorporated Miami-Dade, let’s not kid ourselves) and try to make it into a small, bustling metropolis with multi-use buildings, restaurants and shops. And try as they might, it just isn’t happening. When my husband and I moved to the area about five years ago, we did so because my job at the time offered me a free monthly pass to the Metro-Rail, so we became a one car family and I was thrilled with the idea that I could walk to Target or Publix to get what we needed whenever he was away at work with the car. I got one of those little carts that you see old people walking around with. A lady at work offered to bedazzle it. It was fabulous, don’t judge me. So here I go, all excited to get my groceries. And then…. BAM!! I encountered Kendall Drive. Now, for those of you that are not familiar with this lovely thoroughfare, it’s a pedestrian’s worst nightmare. Think of George in the episode of Seinfeld when he gets the Frogger machine.

The Dadeland area has the potential of being a truly amazing area to live, work and play in. It’s flanked by two, count ‘em: two, Metro Rail stops. There are apartments galore, some that are still mostly empty, the mall is currently undergoing a massive renovation to add more restaurants. And yet, you can’t get anywhere walking without saying five Hail Mary’s, two Our Father’s and crossing yourself the entire time. I’ve seen old ladies, moms with strollers, dad’s dragging kids and tourists all trying to cross unscathed. As expected, this is a three-lane road, that feeds into the Palmetto (don’t even get me started on that disaster!) and speeding is not only rampant, it’s expected! Now, we all know that reducing the number of lanes will in turn reduce the speed, increase walkability, and increase traffic into stores, etcetera. But, I’m a simple woman, I don’t ask for much. I know that that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. So I’m asking for smaller things. You know what I would like? I would like a crossing light that lasts more than 10 seconds. I can’t even get halfway before the flashing hand stops! I would like the streetlights to be synchronized in a way that makes sense, so people can feel safe crossing from their hotel to the mall. I know if it makes sense, we don’t do it here in Miami-Dade County. But once, just once, can we try? South Miami did it, and look how great it’s working out for them. I would just like to be able to go the Target at the Dadeland station, without fearing for my life and getting honked at every five seconds (which is more to do with the fabulous drivers we have here, but that’s another topic for another time). Seriously, I’m not asking for much, just some good old fashioned common sense and to think of the people that are outside of the metal boxes, who are worth just as much as the ones inside. That and world peace. Oh, and some Louboutins!

Tagged with:
 
This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.