Posts by: Felipe Azenha

This was the scene this afternoon on the corner of NE 56th Street and NE 2nd Avenue. The sidewalks on both sides of the streets were closed to pedestrians today. The CPWD has got to be effing kidding me right?  There is absolutely no consideration given to pedestrians here. Zero. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Nil. A complete embarrassment. The pictures speak for themselves.

Criminal

Unacceptable

This type of shoddy planning during CPWD projects seems to be par for the course. Transit Miami sources have informed us that the same half-assed effort is currently on display at the ongoing Coconut Grove/27th Avenue resurfacing project.

The pervasive anti-pedestrian/anti-cyclist culture at the CPWD needs to end. The time has come to  “Think Pedestrians and Bicycles”, not only cars.

Disgraceful.

This afternoon I witnessed a pedestrian get hit on Brickell Avenue and SW 14th Street.  As I was crossing with about 10 other pedestrians (we had the right of way with crosswalk signaling “Walk”) from the East to West side of Brickell Avenue in the south crosswalk.  A driver was attempting to turn left (south) onto Brickell from SW 14th Street. I watched in disbelief as the she turned and hit a pedestrian about 5 feet in front of me. She literally tried to “thread the needle” between the sea of pedestrians that were trying to cross the street.

I instinctively kicked her door in an attempt to warn her that she had just hit a pedestrian (I wasn’t sure if she realized she had just hit someone).  I admittedly lost my temper and started yelling at her as well.  I was in complete disbelief that she did not yield. I’m not sure how she could have missed all the pedestrians that were crossing. The guy she hit was about 6’2” and luckily for him he was OK. Here’s were the story gets interesting…

About 10 seconds after the pedestrian was hit a City of Miami Police officer (will remain nameless) pulls up and asks me for my ID and he told me I could be arrested because I was causing a disturbance. I told the officer that a car had just hit a pedestrian and then he proceeds to ask the pedestrian that was hit for his ID. I don’t think he ever asked the driver for her ID.

The pedestrian that was hit said he was OK and did not want to file an accident report. I asked the officer if he would issue a ticket for “failure to yield to a pedestrian” and he said, “No, I didn’t witness the accident.” I pointed out to him that there were 5 witnesses still at the scene, but he refused and he proceeded to threaten to charge me with Road Rage. There is clearly no will to enforce “failure to yield to pedestrian violations” even when there are witnesses. Very sad.

Did I overreact?  Probably, but at the end of the day there is no enforcement on Brickell Avenue for this type of infraction and I’m kind of tired of it. I see this crap day in and day out and nothing is being done to make things safer for pedestrians. This officer had no desire to investigate the accident any further or to file an accident report.

You can see video from this very same intersection which I posted a few months ago where hours before a cyclist was hit by a car. It’s just a matter of time before someone else gets hit here.

 

Last night I attended a meeting at Legion Park with representatives from the FEC and about 50 residents and business owners from the Upper East Side. Also present were Commissioner Sarnoff, a representative from the FDOT and a representative from the Port of Miami. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the upgrades to the FEC rail line which are currently underway and the establishment of a “quiet zone” from the port north to NE 71st Street. In order to qualify as a “quiet zone” the FEC will upgrade the rail crossings which will make blowing the train horn unnecessary. The FEC is also replacing the rail line with a quieter track in order to reconnect service to the Port of Miami in anticipation of the port expansion and dredging to accommodate the larger Panamax ships which are expected to significantly expand its cargo business.

Most resident where supportive of the FEC’s plans, but the conversation quickly turned to passenger rail. The majority of those in attendance wanted to know why passenger service was not moving forward. Commissioner Sarnoff was quick to point the finger at the Miami Dade County MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization). He mentioned that both the Broward and Palm Beach County MPOs had already passed resolutions in support of passenger rail service. The FDOT representative confirmed this as well and she actually made it sound like her department was on board with passenger rail service on the FEC. (I was very happy to hear that the FDOT was supportive).

Why can’t our Miami Dade County elected officials get their act together and actually do something that is in the public’s best interest for once? They need to stop playing politics and do what is best for the South Florida community. Last night’s meeting clearly showed that residents and businesses desire passenger rail. Providing passenger rail service on the FEC is really a no-brainer and will make the South Florida region more competitive. For some reason, that is beyond my understanding, our Miami Dade elected officials can’t seem to figure this one out.

Passenger rail is fundamental to our economic success. Young, talented and educated job seekers (as well as employers) are in search for cities that provide a better quality of life. They are not interested in spending countless hours commuting in bumper to bumper traffic. Passenger rail will spur development opportunities for real estate developers to break ground on walkable, mixed-use, transit oriented developments. This is progress, not futile road expansion projects that destroy communities rather than making them stronger.

Safety Issues for Pedestrians Along the FEC

Wendy Stephan, former president of the Buena Vista Homeowners Association, asked the FEC representative if they intended to make the area surrounding the tracks more pedestrian friendly. In particular she cited the area from NE 39th- 54th Street along Federal Highway which does not have any pedestrian crossings. She pointed out that people cross these tracks (including her mother-in-law in her pearls, lol) to get to the Publix and Biscayne Boulevard from Buena Vista and the surrounding neighborhoods because there aren’t any proper crossings for 15 blocks.

One of the FEC representatives then began to refer to the people crossing the tracks as “trespassers”. I took issue with his statement and I quickly pointed out to him that the FEC cannot possibly expect for people to walk 15 blocks out of their way just to cross the tracks to catch a bus on Biscayne Boulevard or purchase food at Publix. Further north we find the same problem from NE 62nd –NE 79th Street where we there is only one crossing at NE 71st Street which the FEC has asked the County to close, but the County so far has denied this request. Its worth mentioning that I see small children crossing the train tracks from Little Haiti every morning on their way to Morning Side Elementary School on NE 66th Street. There are numerous schools along the FEC corridor from downtown north to NE 79th Street and nearly not enough pedestrian crossings. An FEC representative basically said this was not their problem. Commissioner Sarnoff said his office would look into building bridges or tunnels for pedestrians to get across the tracks safely. Instead, I think we should look into at-grade pedestrian crossings (see below) rather then spending big bucks on tunnels or bridges which will most likely not be used by anyone besides drug addicts.

No need to be gimicky; we don't need bridges or tunnels to get across the rail line safely. Proper pedestrian rail crosswalks are less expensive and more effective.

How about an FEC Greenway?

Friend of Transit Miami Frank Rollason asked the FEC representative about their responsibility of being a good neighbor and properly maintaining the right of way (ROW). He pointed out that there were homeless people living on the FEC ROW, people using drugs as well has hiding stolen goods in the overgrown shrubbery. The FEC representative snubbed Frank and said, “We do maintain it”. (Yeah right).

I told the FEC representative that the FEC could be a good neighbor by including an FEC Greenway into their plans. An FEC Greenway would root out homelessness and drug use as joggers, walkers, parents with strollers and bicyclists would discourage undesirable activities with their presence. I was also snubbed by the FEC representative and was basically given a look that said “yeah right kid, good luck with that, looks like you are smoking crack with the crack heads on the FEC line, there is no chance we are putting a greenway on the FEC.”

Overall the meeting was very positive. The FEC and the City of Miami need to work together to find solutions to add more crossings for pedestrians. Pedestrians shouldn’t be forced to walk 15 blocks to cross the tracks. The City of Miami should also press the FEC to incorporate a greenway into their plans. A greenway would deter crime and improve the quality of life for everyone that lives near the train tracks. That being said, rail is the priority. The FEC has 100ft of ROW; if they can somehow safely squeeze in a 10-12 ft greenway they should.

Lastly, we must all write a quick email to our County Commissioners and tell them to stop playing politics with our future economic prosperity. We need local and commuter passenger rail service today, not in 15 years. You can find our recommendations for passenger rail service on the FEC here. Let’s make this happen South Florida!

Yesterday morning the construction zone at the intersection of SE 13th Street and Brickell Avenue was a pedestrian’s nightmare.  Pedestrians can’t see the crossing signal therefore they don’t know when they should cross. Once they do cross they are forced out of the crosswalk, around the construction zone and into traffic coming from three different directions. Really? This is the best we can do?

Click to enlarge: SE 13th Street and Brickell Avenue

Please send an email to Commissioner Mark Sarnoff and the FDOT district 6 Secretary Gus Pego and ask them and their families to join Transit Miami for lunch on Brickell Avenue. We will be happy to walk them through the pedestrian experience of the area.  Lunch is on us.

 

 

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the lack of initiative the CPWD showed during a recent resurfacing project on South Miami Avenue from SW 14th Street to SE 13th Street. After the CPWD finished resurfacing the intersection on SW14th Street they only replaced the one and only existing crosswalk instead of painting all 4 crosswalks at this intersection.  County Public Works Department Director Esther Calas responded to Transit Miami:

The Miami-Dade Public Works Department (PWD) had an ongoing drainage, milling and resurfacing and striping and signage project on South Miami Avenue, which was interrupted at the request of the neighborhood merchants with the City’s concurrence due to the Florida Department of Transportation reconstructing Brickell Avenue North of SE 15 Road. Although both projects had non-overlapping maintenance of traffic vehicular routing, the merchants were concerned with the combined traffic impacts.

When we halted our drainage project, only one block was completed, between S 13 Street/Coral Way and S 14 Street. The project began on that block because it had the worst roadway drainage conditions. As a part of work stoppage, the contractor only replaced the single crosswalk at 14 Street that was originally present. The City has offered to continue the drainage work on Miami Avenue in coordination with their drainage project for the intersecting neighborhood streets.

We agree that additional crosswalks will improve Miami Avenue. Therefore, in the interim before drainage work is reinitiated on Miami Avenue, we will resume our effort to stripe crosswalks, stopbars, bicycle lanes and shared use “Sharrow” markings along this corridor between S 15 Road and S 6 Street without further delay.

We appreciate your bringing these concerns to our attention.

We are happy to report that the CPWD not only painted three additional crosswalks at the South Miami Avenue and SW14 Street intersection, but also in the process added bike lanes on South Miami Avenue from SW 13th Street up to SW 15th Street.  The CPWD has also taken the extra step to add crosswalks at other intersections on South Miami Avenue. Needless to say we are extremely pleased, but there is still room for improvement. Please see the below photographs for our praise, critiques and suggestions for improvement.

Sweet!

Awesome!

Kick Ass!

Nice bike lane!

 

The SW 12th Street/SE1st Avenue/ South Miami Avenue intersection a complete clusterfuck (Pardon my French). Serious attention needs to be given here.

New zebra crosswak on SW 12th Street South Miami Avenue. I love zebra crosswalks. Every crosswalk in the urban core should be a zebra crosswalk.

The SW 12th Street/SE1st Avenue/ South Miami Avenue intersection gets a new zebra crosswalk. Did I mention how much I love zebra crosswalks?

The boys at the CPWD hard at work. Thank you gentlemen!

SE 11th Street and S. Miami Avenue. Not sure if CPWD is finished here, but this intersection must have four crosswalks. Let's give the CPWD the benefit of the doubt.

SE 11th Street and S. Miami Avenue. The new stop bar must extend the entire width of SE 11th Street. A second stop sign must also go up. The manager at Rosinella told me today that he has been managing this restaurant since 1998 and sees on average 5 accidents per year at this intersection. More must bee done to calm traffic on South Miami Avenue. Too many idiots speed down S. Miami Avenue on this stretch. Enforcement isn't the solution. We must design a complete street that discourages speeding.

 

SE 10th Avenue and S. Miami Ave. Looks like the CPWD is putting zebra crosswalks here too. I think the rain stopped them from finishing the job.

 

Mary Brickell Village. Is a raised mid-block zebra crosswalk to much to ask for? Probably. We can only dream.

SW 9th and S. Miami Ave. Hopefully the CPWD will put zebra crosswalks here as well. Please give them the benefit of the doubt, I don't think they're done yet!

Well done Ms. Calas and CPWD!  Your department singly handedly just made the Brickell area safer for those of us that walk and bike in the area.  Let’s make it even safer!

You can find the Bicycle/Pedestrian Mobility Plan For the Miami Downtown Development Authority Area here: http://bit.ly/rsVYEb. There are plenty of great ideas in this document. The Miami DDA has also developed a streetscape plan for South Miami Avenue. You can find the study here:http://www.miamidda.com/pdf/South%20Miami%20Avenue%20Master%20Plan%20FINAL%209-17-10.pdf

Please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email thanking her and her department for their effort thus far. (ecalas@miamidade.gov). 

The FDOT continues to turn a blind eye to all the crashes that we have documented in the Upper Eastside on Biscayne Boulevard over the past year. The below scene must have occurred in the past 24 hours or so on Biscayne Boulevard and 48th Street. Another day and another light pole on Biscayne comes crashing down as the FDOT does nothing to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for those of use that walk, bike, shop, use transit or drive on this street. When will the FDOT actually acknowledge that there is a fundamental design problem with the way Biscayne Boulevard was constructed and actually do something about it? With at least 9 accidents in the past year the evidence is very clear.  Are they waiting for some to die before they fix Biscayne? The design speed needs to be commensurate with the 35 mph speed limit. Currently the design speed is about 45 mph.

9th light pole this year; 2nd in four days

Debris field spreads out about 75 feet from point of impact. Speeding is clearly a problem.

 

The FDOT needs to stop playing with people’s lives. I have lived in the MiMo neighborhood for about a year and I am aware of at least 8 crashes involving motor vehicles taking out light poles/bus shelters/store fronts. I have documented most of them here.

Adding insult to injury our local elected officials, City Commissioner Sarnoff and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson along with the FDOT, have done nothing to address the design speed on Biscayne Boulevard. The design speed on this street throughout the Upper East Side is about 45 mph.  Although the speed limit is 35 mph it has become glaringly obvious that we have a speeding problem along this COMMERCIAL and RESIDENTIAL neighborhood.

A bus stop on a narrow sidewalk with cars flying by at 45+mph is a recipe for disaster.

Aside from a 1 day enforcement crackdown about a month ago on Biscayne and 45th  Street, our elected officials aren’t doing nearly enough to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for those of us that are walking, biking, or waiting for a bus.  Enforcement is not the solution. We need to design our roadways in order to achieve the speed we desire people to drive. In the case of Biscayne Boulevard the design speed should not exceed 35 mph.  The FDOT (and our elected officials) must stop practicing wishful thinking and begin designing roads that discourage speeding that don’t require enforcement. Properly designed streets enforce themselves. Biscayne Boulevard is essentially a highway that cuts through commercial and residential neighborhoods; there are also several schools in this area. I cannot think of a good reason for a 45 mph design speed. You can find recommendations to make Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian and business friendly here.

Commissioner Sarnoff has offered to pay for a $70,000 fence surrounding Belle Meade from the Quality of Life funds which will do nothing to improve the quality of life for anyone on the Upper East Side.  I’d rather see the $70,000 used to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for those of us that walk and do business on the Boulevard. Pedestrian and business friendliness go hand-in-hand.

Please send Commissioner Sarnoff an email and ask him what he plans to do about this very serious issue.  You could also send an email to County Commissioner Edmonson.

This situation is out of control and no one is being held accountable. The 8 documented crashes could have very easily involved 8 lost lives.

 

Source: Bicycle/Pedestrian Mobility Plan for the Miami Downtown Development Authority Area

 

Come join the ULI Southeast Florida Young Leaders of Miami-Dade County to network, meet new people and build invaluable relationships.

Attendees to include professionals in the real estate development, brokerage, management, planning, architectural, engineering, construction, legal, and public sectors. Learn about the Urban Land Institute’s Young Leaders Group and upcoming ULI events.

Non-members are encouraged to attend.

FREE for All! Registration required – One free drink and light appetizers will be provided.

 

Date and Time August 23 5:30-7:30

Location: Clarke’s

840 1St Street

Miami Beach, FL

 

Register Online:

District Council

Register by phone:

  • Call: 1-800-321-5011 between
    9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday;

Online registration for this event is closed, but you may still be able to register. Please call 800-321-5011 for more information.

Register by mail or fax:

  • Download a registration form
  • Fax to: 800-248-4585 (credit card payments only); or
  • Mail to: ULI, Department 304, Washington, D.C., 20055-0304 (for check or credit card payments).

 

 

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About 6 months ago the County Public Works Department spent about a month digging up South Miami Avenue from SW 14th Street to SE 13th Street. When it came time to resurface and restripe the roadway the CPWD only repainted the one and only crosswalk that existed rather then painting four crosswalks at South Miami Avenue and SW 14th Street intersection.

Nice crosswalk. How about crosswalks connecting all 4 corners?

I’m really struggling to understand the logic behind this one. The bucket of paint and the dirty paint brushes were already on site and they failed to paint 3 additional crosswalks? Lemme guess, just like the proposed cycletrack on Miami Avenue, we have to do some B.S. traffic study to see if crosswalks are appropriate and we have to wait until the school year begins to conduct this study right? We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and prove the obvious. There is always an excuse with the CPWD. Just do it and stop making excuses.

Pathetic

This is completely and utterly negligent on their behalf.  What is so difficult about painting 3 additional crosswalks when you’re already on the job site? This was a perfect opportunity to make this intersection more pedestrian-friendly and the CPWD blew it!

Redonkulous

Can someone please provide us with an explanation as to why the additional crosswalks were not stripped? If money is the problem  perhaps Commissioner Sarnoff should use the $70,000 from the Quality of Life funds he plans to put towards that worthless Belle Meade fence and instead use our tax dollars to make the Brickell area more pedestrian-friendly.

Shameful

Please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email asking her why three crosswalks were purposely left out of this project. (ecalas@miamidade.gov). 

 

Two weeks ago, Miami Today News quoted Brickell Area Association President Mr. Randy Olen as saying:

“Most Recently the Brickell Area Association joined the crusade to reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue.  Partially as a result of its joint efforts with the DDA and Commissioner Sarnoff’s office, the FDOT agreed to permanently lower the speed limit from 40 to 35 mph along the southern end of Brickell Avenue.”

In addition the transportation department conceded to the addition of crosswalks at several intersections as well as sharrow markings to encourage road sharing with cyclists.

Lastly, the department agreed that all of Brickell Avenue will now get modern fixtures that compliment the architecture of the neighborhood.”

 

We submitted the below response to the Editor of Miami News Today, unfortunately our letter was not published. So here you have it…

Dear Editor,

In last week’s article “Brickell Area Assoication events to look behind the headlines”, Mr. Brickell Area Association President Randy Olen correctly mentioned “the BAA joined the crusade to reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue partially as a result of its joint venture with the DDA and Commissioner Sarnoff’s office.” Although the concessions which were made by FDOT could not have been made possible without the support of the DDA and Commissioner Sarnoff, we think it is important to note that the “crusade” to reduce the speed limit and calm traffic on Brickell Avenue was initiated by Transit Miami and not the DDA or Commissioner Sarnoff’s office.

When Transit Miami caught wind of the resurfacing project in late July 2010 we took the initiative to meet with representatives from the FDOT to discuss the project. After discovering that the FDOT did not have any plans to improve safety for pedestrians or cyclists, Transit Miami began a grassroots campaign to make Brickell safer for everyone that lives, works and plays on Brickell. Working with the South Florida Bike Coalition and the Green Mobility Network we organized a coalition of stakeholders that included the Brickell Homeowners Association, the Brickell Area Association, Mayor Regaldo, Commissioner Sarnoff, the Miami DDA, and State Representative Luis Garcia. Thanks to the Transit Miami-led coalition, a conversation about pedestrian safety on Brickell Avenue has finally begun – but more can and should be done.

The FDOT is not doing nearly enough to promote a safer - and more beautiful - Brickell Avenue. Reducing the speed limit alone will not have the desired effect of speed reduction unless the roadway is designed to discourage speeding. In addition, while we applaud FDOT for adding 7 additional crosswalks to the project, this effort falls far short of the nearly twenty crossings that Transit Miami identified as currently missing from the one and a half mile stretch of roadway. Absent from the plans are any pedestrian crossings between SW 26 Road and 17 Road, while the median along the entire avenue is devoid of pedestrian amenity despite heavy pedestrian volumes and one of the highest residential population densities in the county.

Brickell Avenue is one of our premier streets – isn’t it time that we designed it that way?

Felipe Azenha

Writer, Transit Miami

Vice President South Florida Bike Coalition

 

Tony Garcia

Publisher, Transit Miami

Board of Directors, Green Mobility Network

 

 

The FDOT is in the midst of making improvements to the sidewalk on the SW corner of Brickell and SE 13th Street. This intersection is dangerous enough for pedestrians when it’s not under construction, but today the FDOT tried their hardest to make it as difficult as possible for those that walk on Brickell to cross the street safely. Not only did they simply close the sidewalk to pedestrians, the actually had the audacity to put up a “sidewalk closed, cross here” sign where there isn’t a crosswalk!

Cross Here? But there is no crosswalk...

The closest crosswalk on the north-west side of this intersection is three blocks away on SE 10th Street. Pedestrians should not have to walk 6 blocks in the hot, blistering sun just to get to the other side of the street. This is an embarrassment. There was no thought given to the needs of pedestrians during the planning stages of the project. None whatsoever.

 

Miami Today News is reporting that the FDOT’s two-year $16 million renovation effort of Biscayne Boulevard is coming to an end. The FDOT resurfaced the road, installed new drainage, and built new sidewalks and improved lighting and signage from NE 16 Street to NE 36th Street.

Enrique Tomayo, Senior Project Engineer for Tomayo Engineering had this to say about the reduced lane widths, wider green space between sidewalk and bigger sidewalks:

“That makes the corridor more pedestrian-friendly.”

What a joke. Other then the sidewalks I could not think of a more pedestrian-unfriendly design then the current design that FDOT selected.

This afternoon I rode my bicycle from NE 22nd Street up to NE 36th Street. In this 14-block stretch of roadway there are only 5 crosswalks. If the FDOT really wanted to make this high-density, commercial corridor pedestrian-friendly, they would have added a crosswalk at every intersection. A pedestrian should not have to walk four blocks just to get across the street.  If the FDOT actually expects pedestrians to walk four blocks just to cross the street they are living in la la land.

This entire project is an embarrassment. If the FDOT were truly concerned about economic development, pedestrians and cyclists they would have added on street parallel parking as well.  Not only do businesses on Biscayne Boulevard need accessible parking for their customers, but parallel parking also helps to calm traffic. When you calm traffic, you make the roadway more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

It is clear that the FDOT has one mission- To move cars as quickly as possible without regard to the needs of businesses, pedestrians and bicyclists.

I think we should rename Biscayne Boulevard to Biscayne Highway. This road is looking less like a Boulevard and more like a Highway. Take a look for yourselves…

Biscayne Boulevard or Biscayne Highway? There is nothing pedestrian-friendly about this roadway.

When will the FDOT learn to properly build a roadway that is safe for everyone? This project hasn’t even been completed and we already have to fix it. The same shitty roadway design was produced in the MiMo District.  When the MiMo BID Executive Committee meet with the FDOT they were told they would have to wait another 20 years to re-stripe Biscayne Bouleveard because that is when the project is up for review again. How many people will be injured or die and how many businesses will suffer during that time due to poor roadway design? Absolutely pathetic. Everyone is at the mercy of the FDOT and there is nothing we can do.  Very sad.

 
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