Posts by: Craig Chester

Yesterday afternoon, a serious car crash on Brickell Bay Drive by the Four Ambassadors Condo Building sent an SUV flying onto the sidewalk and a young woman to the hospital. Transit Miami reader and eyewitness Mark Batey sent us this report:

Having witnessed the aftermath of yet another accident on Brickell Bay Drive, I decided enough was enough and went online to try to find some statistics and contacts. I came across your site TransitMiami.com which is great. The crash was about the third such accident I have seen on almost the very same part of Brickell Bay Drive in the last 6 months or so. It followed the same pattern, according to information from another eye-witness in my building.

Apparently a black vehicle was traveling “way too fast” from south to north on Brickell Bay Drive. It lost control, hit a parked car which was propelled straight into a pedestrian and the pedestrian was knocked to the ground. The attached image is a blurred one out of respect for the pedestrian – a young lady who just happened to be passing by wearing running clothes.

What the photo shows is the black car on its side, the other vehicle fully mounted on the pavement from the impact, and the poor young lady lying on her back, bleeding and with serious injuries. I was alerted to the crash by the sound of the impact and the screams of the young lady which I will never forget.

A few months ago, I was walking by that same spot and saw the aftermath of an almost identical accident, this time with an older lady lying badly injured on the ground. Shortly after today’s crash I watched another lady walking by pushing a baby in a stroller. She has no idea how lucky she was.

From my vantage point I have a perfect view of the chaos of Brickell Bay Drive. It makes my blood boil when I see drivers driving straight by pedestrians on the pedestrian crossing – often at high speed.

I read the posts and comments about the traffic situation on Brickell Avenue and, having lived here for 8 years, and being a frequent pedestrian on Brickell, I can only agree with what I read. It is nothing short of a disgrace.

I would welcome your advice about the best way to make my voice heard on this issue.

Regards,

Mark

Thank you for the excellent report Mark. We agree that even though Brickell Avenue itself receives the brunt of the criticism, the surrounding roads are equally as deplorable for pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists. Brickell Bay drive from SE 8th Street south is in desperate need of traffic calming and enhanced pedestrian and cyclist measures. With 4 lanes of traffic here, vehicle speeds are often completely inappropriate for a dense residential neighborhood. We recommend a ‘road diet‘, reducing the road to two travel lanes and use the reclaimed space for a buffered bicycle lane. (Brickell Bay Drive at 14th street goes back to two lanes and traffic seems to flow just fine).

How many more people out for an evening jog have to be maimed by motorists until some serious action is taken?

Street level view of the aftermath after the jogger had been taken to the hospital.

Update: Reddit has an active thread on this crash. One eyewitness reported: “I was across the street when this accident happened. The black SUV hit the woman jogger and her lower leg snapped. I watched her look down and start screaming. I called 911 then bailed, that s*** was freaking me out.”

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The following is an article from Elsa Roberts from Emerge Miami.

“What are you doing?”
“Thanks.”
“I almost get hit every time I cross the street with my daughter.”
“Get a job!”
“Thank you for doing this.”

These are just a few of the comments we heard in 40 minutes walking the crosswalk for pedestrian safety in Coral Gables on October 20. One older gentleman complained that he doesn’t feel safe crossing the street and said that he couldn’t sprint out of a car’s way anymore – he is 77. Another woman crossing with her children thanked us and proceeded to explain to her daughter why we were demonstrating for safer streets.

Motorist reactions were mixed. There were many instances of driver misbehavior and disrespect. Several drivers illegally blocked the intersection trying to turn left after their green arrow was gone and many making right turns came within inches of our legs; angrily demanding with their vehicles that we yield our space. The strangest comment we received was from a woman in an SUV trying to make a right turn while we were lawfully crossing the street, she rolled down her window, stared into our faces and our signs urging drivers to take care and reminding them that we are all pedestrians, and shouted angrily, “Why don’t you get a job!” Three of us looked at her and simply stated, “We have jobs.” “In fact, we’re here on a Saturday, raising awareness about an issue that kills and injures hundreds of people in Miami every year.”

Unfortunately, too many people care more about getting to a destination a little quicker than they do about looking both ways and yielding to pedestrians, and that is why Miami is the 4th most dangerous city in the U.S. for pedestrians and cyclists; a dishonor shared by three other metropolitan areas, all located in Florida (the Orlando-Kissimmee area is 1st, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 2nd, and Jacksonville is 3rd). Our cities are not designed to facilitate safe travel for pedestrians, an issue that has repeatedly been brought before the FDOT multiple times (see TransitMiami’s archive), but which they are reluctant to acknowledge as a problem.

This is an issue that will only be solved by repeatedly bringing it into the public eye. Each time a pedestrian or cyclist is injured or killed, the public must cry out and encourage media coverage. We must continue with walks like this to engage the community in Miami; together we can raise awareness and make our streets safer. We will be planning another Walk for Safety in December. Stay tuned to details!

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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.”

The daily pedestrian battlefield in Brickell.

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.

2 police cruisers blocking the bike lane with lights on? Must be an emergency unfolding nearby!

Nope. Just a smoothie break across the street.

Tell Miami Police Cheif Manuel Orosa (manuel.orosa@miami-police.org) that this behavior is unacceptable, especially given the tragically high level of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities in Miami.

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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.

Regards,

Carlos Cruz-Casas, P.E.|Assistant Transportation Coordinator
City of Miami – Office of the City Manager/Transportation

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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.

The new diesel-powered, rubber-tire, retro-kitschy busses.

Sent to TrolleyInfo@Miami.gov

Good morning,

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.

Thank you,

Leah Weston

Miami, FL

What has your experience been with the Miami trolleys?

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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?

Staff and crew of the Florida East Coast Railway by the streamliner “Henry M. Flagler” in 1939. The Railey-Milam hardware store in the background was founded in 1902 and was a prominent Miami business for decades.

Downtown on East Flagler Street. December 20, 1935. Notice the streetcar, and the Ritz Hotel (building still stands) in the background. Credit: Fishbaugh, W. A.

View of the Brickell family home at Brickell Point on the Miami River in 1898. Today, this site is home to the Icon condominiums, Viceroy Hotel and Miami Circle park. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Gentlemen in the Coral Gables streetcar during its first day – April 30, 1925. Mayor of Miami, E.C. Romph is at the controls. Credit: Fishbaugh, W.A.

City officials inspecting the “STOP” sign on N.E. 2nd Street at Biscayne Blvd. December 9, 1926. (They haven’t given road safety the same level of attention since) Credit: Fishbaugh, W. A.

Trolley car 109 eastbound on 5th Street, Miami Beach. Station doubled as the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. 1921 Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Part of the “Dirty Dozen” in the old Royal Palm Hotel garden. Downtown Miami, 1916. Were these guys the first Miami hipsters? I don’t know who the ‘Dirty Dozen’ were, but one of them is sporting a massive chainring on his single-speed steed! Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Classic picture from 1927 of a Coral Gables express trolley on Flagler Street, with another following close behind. These trains used to speed down Coral Way at speeds of close to 75 mph, connecting downtown with Miracle Mile in under 12 minutes. Credit: Gleason Waite.

Miami’s first Critical Mass? Bicycles on Biscayne Boulevard, 1948. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

New diesel locomotives, downtown Miami. 1938. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

People at the bandshell in Bayfront Park enjoying an evening concert. downtown Miami, 193-. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Young women making fun of sign at beach requiring full bathing suits – Miami Beach. July 4, 1934. Credit: Gleason Waite

Soldiers performing training exercises on the beach during WWII – Miami Beach, sometime between 1939-1945. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Motorcycle cop directing traffic on County Causeway (now MacArthur) – Miami Beach, Florida. Nice to know speed limits were actually enforced once upon a time on this roadway.

Brickell Avenue, looking north. Photographed on September 25, 1947. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Uh oh. Here comes the construction of 1-95, plowing it’s way through downtown….forever transforming the city. Looking east from Flagler street. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Egads! Bayfront parking lagoon for First National Bank, downtown Miami in 1962. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Aerial view of downtown Miami and Bayfront Park in 1963. Look at all the ‘missing teeth’ in the streetscape – aka parking lots. Many of the buildings razed in this era would today be considered ‘historic’ and thus, lovable and worth caring about. Check out a forested Claughton Island (Brickell Key) in the distance.

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Enjoy the latest  from Transit Miami Films – the final stretch of my bike ride home from downtown Miami to South Miami Avenue in Brickell.

Turn your speakers up, have a great weekend and get out and ride, Miami!

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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.

Rendering for the proposed space along the Miami River. Currently, the lot is vacant with no immediate development plans.

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.

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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.

Busses using the bicycle lane as parking on the dangerous Rickenbacker Causeway.

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.

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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.

These 2 perfectly healthy black olive trees, along with 21 others including crepe myrtles, could be gone because they ‘block views’.

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.

“These trees are part of the public realm – that space between private buildings. By allowing them to be removed out of the interests of a few, you deprive the many, allowing forces to act out of balance.” – Karja Hansen

City of Miami District 2 Commissioner Sarnoff is adamantly opposed to the tree removal, and posted the formal ways to protest via his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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.

On Brickell Bay Drive near 15th Street, if you would like to go sign it.

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.

Here’s how:

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. (eestevez@ci.miami.fl.us, 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.

The Future

Today’s impassioned response to the potential tree destruction highlights a larger issue. As Karja Hansen of the Barrio Workshop explains on her Tumblr blog,

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)

Final Thought
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.

Patience wearing thin and tensions running hotter.

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.

A motorist nudges though the crowd. Lookout! Too much space for cars, not enough for people.

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.

Join the movement at our Facebook Page, follow @WalkWynwood on Twitter and use the hashtag #WalkWynwood to continue the conversation!

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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)

Photo via @MiamiBikeReport

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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.

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