One local group is taking it to the streets to draw attention to greater Miami’s pedestrian safety issues. Local activist group Emerge Miami, in conjunction with the Green Mobility Network, is holding a walk and demonstration for pedestrian and cyclist safety and awareness this Saturday, October 20th in Coral Gables at 1 pm.
From the group’s website:
Why Walk for Pedestrian Safety?
Stepping out into the crosswalk is generally a tense and terrifying experience in Miami. Most drivers don’t even look to see if you are there, so you must either wait until they have turned or aggressively get in front of a car that might well run you over. People crossing with children, people who are disabled, and elderly people have an even worse time of it, since often our crosswalk signals are too short to enable people moving slowly to finish crossing the road.
If you’ve ever been a pedestrian you know this sensation. You also know the powerless feeling that comes with being one lone person against a large machine that can kill you, even if the driver isn’t trying to. Every single person driving a car has been a pedestrian at some point, but drivers here aren’t trained to respond to pedestrian’s right of way on crosswalks; its possible that that most pedestrians don’t know what rights they have to cross the road. Pedestrians and drivers need to be aware of when pedestrians have the right of way so that everyone is safe. Until everyone that uses the road is educated and respects everyone else’s rights to it, Florida will continue to lead the country in pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities. Miami-Dade County will continue to have the second highest rate of pedestrian and cyclist injury and death, and we will continue to have rides dedicated to fallen cyclists and angry newspaper editorials about another family struck down while on a sidewalk.
Lots of ink has been spilled on this topic, but now is the time for direct action. On October 20th, 2012, at 1:00 pm, pedestrians are invited to gather to Walk for Pedestrian Safety at Miracle Mile and Ponce De Leon, RSVP on Facebook or Meetup. We will legally make use of the crosswalks at this intersection for an hour, holding informational signs and educating drivers and other pedestrians about how to keep our crosswalks safe. We will be meeting at 12:45, by Starbucks on the corner of Ponce and Miracle Mile, to go over the rules of crossing the street legally. After the walk, we invite you to grab a late lunch at one of the local establishments to demonstrate that a safe and healthy pedestrian culture also promotes good business.
Join us as we work to improve the lives of everyone who lives in Miami; after all we are all pedestrians!
Just days after the Miami Herald published a letter (Brickell financial district pedestrians beware!) detailing one woman’s harrowing experiences walking in Brickell, and some feisty Transit Miami e-mails to local authorities, the Miami Police conducted a crosswalk detail in Brickell.
From Police Chief Miguel Orosa:
“On Oct 10, MPD conducted a crosswalk detail at SW 8 Street and Brickell Ave. The results of the detail were a total of 73 summons, 41 of which were for failing to yield right of way to pedestrians.”
I heard about the detail in the morning of October 10th, and went to personally thank the officers on duty, letting them know this was an important safety issue to the community. The officers left at about 9:15 AM, so 72 summons were doled out in a relatively short period of time.
This is the same intersection that the MPD conducted a similar operation on in May, netting nearly $10,000 in fines in just under one hour, and subsequently resulting in a front page news story in the Miami Herald. Prior to that detail, Transit Miami Films made this intersection famous in the video No Respect which drew the attention of local commissioners and police.
Transit Miami applauds this use of police resources, which is obviously a reasonable and productive use of their time given the commonplace lack of compliance of our traffic laws.
A Transit Miami tipster sent us these photos of Miami Police officers parking in the bicycle lane and sidewalk on South Miami Avenue in Brickell for an urgent emergency – a break at Smoothie King. Our source tells us that the cruisers even had their flashing lights on. This was taken at 5:30 pm on October 3rd, just as rush-hour reaches full swing and the motorists in Brickell are aggressive as ever, bullying their way through pedestrians in crosswalks on their march to I-95. Maybe they could be handing out some tickets and warnings instead?
At least they could keep one of Brickell’s only bicycle lanes clear while they enjoy their break.
Tell Miami Police Cheif Manuel Orosa (email@example.com) that this behavior is unacceptable, especially given the tragically high level of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities in Miami.
A few days after we published Leah Weston’s letter lambasting the Miami Trolley service for poor service and planning, the City of Miami responded with their side of the story. See below for the response.
Dear Ms. Weston,
Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback on your experience with the Miami Trolley. As a new service, the office of transportation is continually working to make the Miami Trolley a more convenient transportation alternative in the City. Please be assured that we are taking your comments into consideration and are working to resolve the problem. In the meantime, we would like to address your concerns with a brief response to your e-mail. Please read below.
1. The Trolley is completely unreliable.
The City of Miami is aware of the issue of inconsistent headways and is working on possible solutions. Traffic congestion, lane closures, and the opening of the Brickell Avenue Bridge impede vehicular traffic thus creating challenges to maintain consistent and reliable headways.
To rectify the issue, the City is working closely with Limousines of South Florida (LSF), the company contracted by the City to operate the trolleys, to resolve this problem. Drivers are required to maintain regular radio contact with the dispatcher to ensure proper spacing. When the trolleys begin to bunch, the drivers of the trailing vehicle are asked to wait at the next stop to establish proper spacing. This is a temporary solution as we hope to resolve the problem by introducing technology into the program as many other transit agencies do. For further information, please refer to the answer to question # 2.
2. Why is there no way to track the trolley…?
The City is working to establish GPS-based monitoring of the trolleys in the coming months. This technology will accomplish a number of things: First, City and LSF staff will track trolleys remotely, facilitating the identification and correction of vehicle bunching. Second, the GPS tracking will allow riders to access the trolley website to determine the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) at their stop.
3. Whoever designed the stops at Brickell Station lacks complete common sense.
The northbound and southbound trolleys overlap at the Brickell Metrorail station but have two separate stops. The ideal situation would be to have both stopping at the same location. The northbound has to stop closer to SW 10th Street to be able to make the turn under the Metrorail. Due to bus bay capacity issues, the City decided to move the southbound stop further south next to the Metromover station. At times, both routes arrive at the same time. We acknowledge that sometimes the southbound trolley stops at the northbound to drop off passengers. This should not happen as it creates confusion to the passengers waiting for their trolley. We will continue to remind the drivers that southbound vehicles must stop ONLY at the southbound location.
In addition, we are working closely with LSF to make use of the LED marquee signs in the front of each vehicle to have them clearly identified as northbound or southbound.
4. Finally, about a month ago, I dropped my work ID on a trolley.
When you contacted the City of Miami, we forwarded your query to LSF. Unfortunately, an LSF employee had destroyed your ID. This was a simple case of human error. We understand that LSF contacted you, and apologized. We also would like to apologize for the inconvenience this incident has caused you.
We appreciate your comments and please do not hesitate on contacting us with comments or concerns.
Carlos Cruz-Casas, P.E.|Assistant Transportation Coordinator
City of Miami – Office of the City Manager/Transportation
Transit Miami reader and Emerge Miami coordinator Leah Weston shared the following letter with us, containing some poignant feedback and observations from the new-ish Miami Trolley service in downtown Miami.
Sent to TrolleyInfo@Miami.gov
I am writing because I would like to make some comments about the Miami Trolley Service. While I am happy to have the mobility from my apartment on the south end of Brickell to the Metro station, I have observed a few issues over the past month and a half that I have been using it and felt like I should give my feedback.
(1) The trolley is completely unreliable. The signs say every 15 minutes, but that is just dead wrong. Oftentimes what will happen is that I will wait for 30 minutes and see two or three trolleys going the opposite direction pass me before one going in my direction shows up. The B bus follows almost THE EXACT SAME ROUTE and it is MUCH MORE reliable. I’d rather pay $1.25 to get somewhere on time than to stand around indefinitely, holding a huge pile of heavy books (I am a law student) and sweating profusely.
(2) Why is there no way to track the trolley like you can with the Metrorail and the Metrobus? If the purpose of public transportation is to be able to get around without a car, I need to be able to plan my trip.
(3) Whoever designed the stops at Brickell Station lacks complete common sense. There are two stops–one for Northbound, one for Southbound. However, the two stops are VERY far apart. That’s fine, except for the fact that there’s nowhere on the FRONT of the trolley that indicates which direction the oncoming trolley is going. Both the North and Southbound trollies stop at the Northbound stop to let people off. I personally have to go Southbound in the afternoon when I arrive home. If I think a Southbound trolley is coming, but it turns out to be a Northbound trolley, I have to run back and forth like an idiot with a 20 pound pile of books. Also, there have been a number of occasions where I think a trolley is heading my direction, but it turns out not to be and, in turn, I miss the B bus back home and have to wait another 15-40 minutes (whenever the next trolley decides to come). Long story short: A 20 minute commute home turns into an hour commute. Might as well drive my car for that kind of efficiency.
(4) Finally, about a month ago, I dropped my work ID on a trolley. Shortly after this happened, I promptly wrote an e-mail inquiring about my ID. About a week later, I got a phone call from someone at your office, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner, but that they had shred my ID. That ID also happened to contain a $50 monthly student Metro pass which I had paid in full and which was nonrefundable. While I understand the policy, there are a few problems with this scenario: Why don’t you have someone regularly checking your e-mail account? Why doesn’t the fact that my name and the name of the judge I was working for appeared on the front of the ID merit a little bit of investigation? The woman on the phone also told me she would “see what she could do” about my Metro pass. Why did she never follow up with me?
I’m sorry for the lengthy diatribe, but I thought you should be aware that your service is sub-par and needs improvement. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what I have written.
What has your experience been with the Miami trolleys?
What can we learn from the Miami of the past?
With some extra ‘indoor time’ over the past few days due to tropical storm Isaac (when I wasn’t bike riding or taking photos of the devastation), I spent a good deal of time looking at old photos of Miami on FloridaMemory.com. It’s fascinating to observe the evolution of Miami and it’s environs; how some areas drastically transformed while others stay remarkably similar though the years. What’s also captured here is the insidious destruction the automobile wrought on downtown Miami through the 50′s and 60′s after the streetcars were town out, historic buildings were razed and parking lots sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rainfall.
I’ve been posting a few photos on our Facebook page, but without further adieu, here is a collection of my favorites.
Which are yours?
Brickell Green Space, the grassroots movement for increased public space and parkland in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood released some exiting new renderings of their proposed space.
Brickell Green Space is a project headed up by Mark Schrieber to raise awareness and garner public support for a park in Brickell. Through the project’s website, supporters can sign an online campaign, which already has over 500 signatures.
From the project’s website:
The proposed Miami River park location aligns with several previous published master plans and studies. The City of Miami Parks Master Plan, created back in 2007, identified the need for a neighborhood park between Mary Brickell Village and the Miami River. In order to help illustrate our concept better two local Miami landscape architecture firms, WalkLAUD and TrudStudio, recently teamed up to create a conceptual design for this riverfront location.
The website also lists a series of compelling reasons why this site should be converted into a park.
- As undeveloped land has all but disappeared from the urban core of Miami, Brickell stands to lose the most from rampant overdevelopment.
- With the highest residential density in Miami, Brickell has a lower parkland per 1,000 residents than the City average, which is already amongst the lowest in the USA for cities of it’s size.
- If Miami doesn’t fill this critical need for more public space, the neighborhood’s livability and quality of life will decrease. This could result in disinvestment and reduced appeal for residents and business to invest in the Brickell and Downtown areas.
Currently, the project aims to generate awareness and add signatures to their movement through social media channels (on Facebook and Twitter) and events held at local businesses. An ultimate goal of the project would be to have a developer buy the space and adopt their plans for a park as a means of protecting and enhancing their neighborhood investments in other properties. Swire Properties, who is developing the massive Brickell Citi Centre across the street from this site, is perhaps the most obvious player that comes to mind.
For more information, check our www.BrickellGreenSpace.com.
Thanks to Ruben van Hooidonk who sent us this picture of epic bicycle lane blockage during his bike commute on the Rickenbacker Causeway this morning. This picture was taken on Virginia Key in front of Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, just after the Miami Seaquarium.
At the last Miami-Dade County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting, the police revealed that they have used helicopter surveillance to document the behavior of cyclists on the Rickenbacker. Perhaps they should keep their choppers on the ground and pay attention to the bike lane instead if they are seriously concerned about safety for all road users.
Latest Flap Highlights the Need for City-Wide Tree Ordinance
Thanks to Brickell resident and photographer Claudio Lovo, for bringing attention to a potential arborcide of 23 mature trees in the heart of Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. Lovo noticed that an application for tree removal had been filed by the ‘Point View Association’ for the removal of nearly all the large shade trees along the west side of Brickell Bay Drive between 14th and 15th street. Shortly thereafter, he tweeted out a call to action for Brickell residents to thwart the unnecessary tree removal.
Here is a .pdf file with pictures of each tree slated for destruction, and a map of the area. It’s a stunning amount of tree cover and valuable shade that would be lost in an instant if the permit is approved.
For some background, it appears that the Point View Association, which is a condominium board made up of a few older-construction condo buildings along Brickell Bay Drive, collected enough signatures to formally file a request for the tree removal. According to Lovo, owners of lower-floor units are upset that the trees obstruct their views of the bay. I spoke to a few local residents leaving the buildings who speculated another reason is that the leaves blow into the swimming pool areas of the condominiums, causing an inconvenience to the maintenance crews.
Regardless, both arguments are utterly irrelevant as the presumably healthy trees reside on public property belonging to all residents of the City of Miami. I’m no arborist, but leaves periodically falling from trees is not an abnormal phenomenon. Perhaps the trees could use some simple pruning, which is normal maintenance for trees of this size.
I sent an e-mail and called the Public Works department (who were very helpful in sending me the background material). But in case my e-mail was not clear enough, I posted another message below.
The Next Steps
The permit application will go before the Historical and Environmental Preservation Board Meeting scheduled for September 4th at Miami City Hall. However, it’s imperative to voice your opposition before August 16th, which is the end of the posting period.
If you would like to protest this proposed application for tree removal, you must supply the following information:
1) The location of the project and or project name (#12-209 – Brickell Bay Drive between SE 15 Road and SE 14 Street)
2) Your contact information: name, address, phone number, and e-mail address
3) The reason that you are protesting
You can transmit this information in any one (1) of the following ways:
1) Via E-mail: e-mail Regina Hagger (RHagger@miamigov.com) before midnight on August 16, 2012. Please be sure to “reply to all” of the parties in the Cc: field. (firstname.lastname@example.org, jsantana @miamigov.com, srevuelta @miamigov.com)
2) Via United States Mail: send a Certified Letter, with a Return Receipt via US Postal Service to:
City of Miami Public Works Department, 444 SW 2nd Avenue, 8th Floor, Miami FL 33130, ATTN: Regina L. Hagger. Note: the letter must be post marked by August 16, 2012. Any letter received with a postmark after August 16, 2012 will not be considered. We do allow 2 business days after the posting end date for the mail to be delivered to The City via the Postal Service.
3) Via Telephone: Call Regina Hagger at the City of Miami Public Works Department (305) 416-1749. I will take your protest over the phone. If you receive my voice mail – please leave a clear message with your name, phone number and reason for protest. I will call you back to let you know that your protest has been received.
4) In Person: You may come to the City of Miami Public Works Department. We are located at The Miami Riverside Center – 444 SW 2nd Avenue, 8th Floor, Miami FL 33130. You can ask for me and I will give you a protest form to fill out in person OR you can ask for a Protest Form from the Receptionist at the Public Works Reception Desk. Our business hours are Monday through Friday 8 am – 5 pm.
It is really easy to get fired up about sudden small injustices when they pop up. What is harder is the sustained effort, the continual attention. But that is what it takes, especially when you’re moving as fast as we are these days, and we’ve veered off in some important directions as much as we have.
Today’s flash in the pan effort to save 22 Olive Trees along Brickell Bay Dr is of importance and value, but it is simply a symptom of a larger problem: The City’s Tree Ordinance and its general attitude towards trees and landscaping, and the importance of these things in the overall picture.
As the Urban Paradise Guild urges us,
“Protesting the removal before it becomes fait acompli is essential.”
In other words, without an over-arching tree ordinance (like Washington D.C’s for example) or Tree Ordinance Committee, today’s Brickell tree kerfuffle is tomorrow’s Coconut Grove battle or Friday’s Belle Meade tiff.
This is an important issue we should work together on in the near future. For the short term, it’s important we win the task and hand defeat this senseless destruction in Brickell.
The City of Miami actually has a plan for this street to create an attractive public space for people along Biscayne Bay. The details are in the planning stages, but tentatively it calls for removing the long row on-street parking, expand the sidewalk, planting shade trees and potentially including a buffered bike lane.
Douglas Thompson, a landscape architect and his wife, Ebru Ozer, a professor of landscape architecture at FIU, created the rendering below as an alternate long-term vision for Brickell Bay Drive. (Read more about the idea on Miami Urbanist – Envisioning Brickell Bay Park)
When a passerby spotted me posting the sign to the tree, she said, ‘Be careful, putting things on trees is illegal.”
I replied, “I’d rather get a ticket for putting something on a tree than having no trees left at all.”
Update (8/16/2012 2:10pm)
City of Miami District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff via Twitter: ”The City Manager confirmed this morning that the application to remove the trees on Brickell Bay Dr. has been withdrawn. No tree removal.”
After this past Saturday’s ArtWalk in Wynwood, the movement for a temporary street closure became more relevant than ever.
Over on the campaign’s Facebook page, supporters have been sending in pictures and video from Saturday’s event, highlighting the obvious and sometimes scary conflict between people and vehicles on NW 2nd Avenue in the Wynwood Arts District.
During one particularly chaotic moment, a parade of glowing stilt-walkers made their way down NW 2nd Avenue, drawing the attention of onlookers and the ire of police. Predictably, the illuminated troupe drew a curious crowd which promptly filled the street. Idling cars were surrounded by a phalanx of smartphone photographers as the motorists tried to nudge their way though the crowd.
All the while, I was standing beside Officer Simmons from the Miami Police Department, discussing the need for temporary street closures, to which she was in complete agreement. Officer Simmons continued to take detailed notes to present to her commander about the situation on NW 2nd Avenue and suggest a temporary street closure to vehicles.
One major concern for the Miami Police officers I spoke with was the very real problem of delayed response times for an emergency in the most congested areas. Citing the road was virtually ‘impassable’, this is a significant public safety hazard that trumps any other benefit of the campaign. Street art and sustainable transportation are just fringe benefits when we are discussing the well-being and safety of the general public.
Don’t think for a moment the safety concerns are overblown. At ArtWalk in Los Angeles almost exactly a year ago, a toddler was struck and killed by motorist that jumped the curb while attempting to park next to a crowded sidewalk. If the possibility of that scenario re-playing exists anywhere, it’s Miami, where motorists seem to incessantly launch their vehicles off the pavement daily. The LA incident sparked a successful ‘open streets’ petition, but let’s not wait for tragedy to play out in Miami.
There is overwhelming support from most local business owners for the campaign, though not all are on board. Some have a mentality that ‘it won’t benefit me’. It’s time to put the petty selfishness aside and support open streets to ensure public safety and foster the successful evolution and success of Wynwood’s ArtWalk.
We are still targeting September – next ArtWalk – for an open street event along a small section of NW 2nd Avenue. We’ll continue to keep you posted via Facebook on any developments or ‘calls to action’.
If you have pictures from ArtWalk, upload them to our Facebook page or send to Craig@TransitMiami.com.
On a day where a person on a bicycle was struck and seriously injured on the Rickenbacker Causeway (again), this certainly isn’t what you want to see from the agency responsible for patrolling it – Miami-Dade County Police cruisers blocking the bicycle lane and the sidewalk. (South Miami Ave. and 11th st in Brickell)
On Saturday, July 28, come down to Government Center in downtown Miami to celebrate the arrival of the new Orange Metrorail Line – a direct link from the Miami International Airport to Downtown Miami, and all of the other new ways to get around Miami’s urban core. The Downtown Development Association is sponsoring the party at 111 NW 1 St. from 1-4pm with live music, free food, pedi-cab races and the chance to get your picture taken with a lemur monkey from Jungle Island.
With the opening of the Orange Line, Miami will (at last!) join a relatively small list of American cities with rail connections to their downtown areas. Though in this recent USA Today report, many more American cities are planning rail connections as planners realize that simply building more parking lots and enlarging roadways aren’t sustainable practices.
This celebration is about more than just the new Metrorail link. In the past few months, Miami has seen a relative explosion in transportation options for people downtown, including Cars2Go, the Miami Trolley, MonkeyShuttle, Tropical Pedicabs and the Miami Water Taxi.
Check out this video explaining the “Idaho Stop” law that allows cyclists to yield at some intersections, rather then coming to a complete stop. It’s been on the books for the past 27 years in that state.
The Oregon legislature is considering passage of a law that would allow bicycle riders to treat stop signs as yield signs. These “rolling stops” would allow bike riders to preserve some of the momentum they depend upon for efficient travel, just so long as they don’t infringe on the safety and rights of others.
The law is based on one that’s been successful in Idaho for the last 27 years, so it’s come to be known as the “Idaho Stop” law.
I’ve long contended that if a person on a bicycle is expected to come to a full stop at every single intersection no matter the circumstances, it’s the equivalent of a car driver putting their vehicle into ‘park’ and turning off the ignition before continuing through.
Aaron Bialick at SF Streetsblog weighs in with a powerful argument supporting “Idaho Stop” law in California.
The stop sign law in effect in almost every state has a fundamental flaw: It assumes that bicycles are just like cars, creating the unrealistic expectation that someone on a bike should make a full stop at every stop sign, even when there are plainly no cars or pedestrians nearby.
The problem with this is that it effectively criminalizes the way that people naturally negotiate stop sign intersections on a bike: by slowing, checking for traffic, and being prepared to yield to others. Try the experiment a million times, and you’ll get the same results: everyone, including SF police officers (and probably the lawmakers themselves), will negotiate this way.
The reason behind this is, basically, that operating a 30-pound bicycle is quite different from driving a multi-ton, motorized vehicle. A bicycle doesn’t encase the user in a bulky metal frame that hinders vision. Bicycles can also stop on a dime compared to cars. It’s for these reasons that when driving a car, the care needed to avoid a crash is drastically higher.
To reflect this reality, Idaho amended its stop sign law to allow bicycle riders to treat stop signs as yield signs. This means that while a bicycle rider still can’t blow through stop signs or violate anyone’s right-of-way — which is dangerous and should be enforced — they are allowed to slow down, check for traffic, and proceed legally. The law has clarified expectations between road users, and, as the above video (produced by Spencer Boomhower in support of an effort in Oregon to pass an Idaho-style law) notes, it has a 30-year track record.
Would you support an “Idaho Law” in Florida?
Transit Miami announces campaign for temporary street closures during Wynwood’s ’2nd Saturday’ ArtWalk.
The Second Saturday of each month in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District has rapidly become the ‘must-do’ activity in Miami. For one night a month, NW 2nd Avenue from NW 20th street to NW 29th street becomes a lively festival of art, food trucks, community and celebration – drawing thousands of visitors and growing with each passing month.
But what should be a leisurely, fun and safe stroll through galleries and exhibits of the emerging neighborhood has become a competition of sorts – thousands of pedestrians jockeying for space on narrow, overcrowded sidewalks while a row of constantly idling motorized traffic sits in NW 2nd Avenue. As people spill off the sidewalks and into the street, the conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian are exacerbated. ArtWalk is less about “walking” then it is about delicately squeezing between rows of parked and traffic-clogged vehicles to make your way through the event.
If Wynwood is known for it’s street art, then it’s time we put the art in the street.
Only 8 feet of pavement width is dedicated for thousands people on NW 2nd Ave (sidewalks) while nearly 40 feet is reserved for idling and parked motorized vehicles (street).
Imagine the possibilities if NW 2nd Avenue was closed to motor vehicles and opened for people during this once-a-month event? People, art and vendors can fill the streets. Parents and children can walk and cross safely. The neighborhood sounds will be of music and energy, rather than exhaust-spewing engines.
Transit Miami calls for a partnership between the City of Miami and local Wynwood business owners to arrange for a temporary street closure to motor vehicles to enhance the event’s potential and safety. Yes it will cost some money, but given the event’s popularity and overwhelming crowds, it’s a justifiable expenditure to ensure the long-term prosperity of ArtWalk.
To join the movement to put the walk into ArtWalk, join our Facebook group here or leave your name and e-mail in the comment section below.
A recent open streets event in Hamilton, Ontario
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