Posts by: Felipe Azenha

I’m a big fan of red light cameras, but I’m not a fan of putting them in the middle of the sidewalk. Not much consideration was given to people with disabilities or parents with strollers when they stuck this pole on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive. We shouldn’t place a large red light camera pole in the middle of a sidewalk. The Transit Miami Eye is looking at the details.

New red light camera pole placed in the middle of the sidewalk on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive.

You can read more about the red light cameras on Miami Beach here.

Traffic going to and on the Rickenbacker Causeway this weekend was dreadful. Cars were backed up about a mile on the I-95 and there was bumper to bumper traffic all the way past the roundabout on South Miami Avenue and SE 15th Street. A friend of mine told me it took him more than an hour to drive the 6 miles from Crandon Park to Brickell Avenue.

Traffic backed up on SE 15th Street

Bumper to bumper on South Miami Avenue

Miami Police Department trying to do their best.

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The Old Cutler Road bike path is in shambles.  Below is a fire hydrant that has been placed in the middle of bike path. There are dozens of other obstacles that cyclists need to avoid on this path. The Old Cutler Road bike path is long overdue for a makeover. Root rot, dangerous intersections, poor placement of signs, and oncoming cars are just a few other examples of obstacles that cyclists need to avoid when riding here.

Fire hydrant in the middle of the Old Cutler Road bicycle path.

This afternoon I stopped by Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove to check out the new fitness area which was completed in January. Take a look at the pictures below; I think you’ll agree that the $24,500 investment has paid itself off already. The fitness area was packed with people of all ages. Again congratulations to Commissioner Mark Sarnoff, for allocating quality-of-life funds for this initiative. The fitness area is undeniably making our community healthier.

Kennedy Park Fitness Area

Kennedy Park Fitness Area

Children and adults getting fitter

Children and adults getting fitter

No pain, no gain.

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Today was my first day back on my road bike since the fatal accident on Bear Cut Bridge nearly three months ago. I don’t think I could have picked a worse day to ride my bicycle on the Rickenbacker Causeway; the Sony Erickson women’s semi-finals.

Here’s what I observed this morning:

  • Hundreds of people riding bicycles
  • Average speed of cars 45-50mph
  • About 10 cars doing at least 65 mph
  • A motorcycle doing about 75 mph
  • A police car (department will remain nameless) overtake another car in the right hand lane while encroaching the bike lane going about 70 mph before the Rickenbacker Bridge. This was a non-emergency, illegal pass; the police cruiser did not have lights on.
  • At least 5-6 cars cut me off as they accelerate in order to overtake me so they could make a right hand turn.
  • A cyclist riding against traffic
  • Safety cones encroaching the bicycle lane rather than encroaching or being placed  in the travel lanes to calm down traffic

It’s been nearly 6 months since FDOT completed its auto-centric resurfacing project on Coral Way. Our readers may recall that I did a thorough analysis on the poor quality of the bike lanes which were striped on Coral Way. We were told that FDOT would go back and re-stripe the bike lanes correctly as they should have done in the first place. Well, it’s been 6 months and we’re still waiting…

Yesterday I was driving down this section of roadway and noticed all the cars overtaking me as they cruised in excess of 50 mph. This roadway has 14ft lanes which only encourages cars to speed. As I’m driving down the street I noticed a woman pushing her husband in a wheel chair while trying to cross Coral Way in front of the St. Sophia Church on Coral Way and SW 24th Road.  Unfortunately, this vulnerable couple doesn’t have safe options to cross Coral Way. The closest crosswalk to them is one block away on SW 25th Street. The next closest crosswalk is 10 blocks away on SW 15th Street. To make matter worse, the crosswalk on SW 15th Street is on a treacherous curve, making it very dangerous for even a healthy individual like myself to cross.

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

This signature FDOT project is just another fine example of their auto-centric mantra. The time is now to begin designing complete streets for all users.

Last night my wife and I took the Metromover from the 10th Street Station in Brickell to the Omni Station to check out Mama Mia at the Adrienne Arshet Center. As is usually the case when we ride the Metromover, we had to help several people make sense of the Metromover.

Transit needs to be user-friendly in order for it to work well.  Unfortunately we make it difficult on ourselves when we can’t keep the Metromover maps consistent. The maps at Metromover stations are clearly marked with 3 distinct colors (blue, orange, pink); each color distinguishes the three different routes (Omni, Brickell, and Inner loop).

Metromover station maps are clearly marked with 3 distinct colors (blue, orange, pink) for each route

However, once you enter the Metromover car the colors of the map change completely. The easily distinguishable blue, orange, and pink routes become less discernible shades of grayish/blue. I can’t think of a good reason why we have two different maps; we need to have one easily understood map, not two.

 Maps in the Metromover cars are use different colors; the grayish/blue colors that are less discernable for the transit user.

Maps in the Metromover cars use different colors than station maps; the grayish/blue colors are less discernible for the transit user.

One of our readers, TM Reader, suggested identifying each of the Metromover cars more clearly too.  I’d like to take this good idea a step further. The Metromover cars should be painted blue, orange, or pink to reflect the color of each route.  This would make transit easy to use.

Enough is enough. Cyclists in South Florida are sick and tired of FDOT’s antics. FDOT chooses not to include or even consider bicycle lanes in most of their resurfacing projects in District 6.  Last night about 35 cyclists attended an open house in which FDOT told the attendees that bicycle lanes would not be included in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project; so much for public participation.

Yesterday the newly energized South Florida Bicycle Coalition announced they would seek legal action if FDOT does not include bike lanes in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project without the required design exception, traffic and impact studies.

Well done South Florida Bicycle Coalition!  Keep up the great work!

Our expectation is that FDOT should design a complete street that includes sidewalks, bike lanes, narrower traffic lanes, lower speed limits and additional traffic calming devices. We will no longer tolerate shoddy FDOT workmanship such as the bike lanes on Coral Way and the MacArthur Causeway. FDOT has a responsibility to provide safe bicycle infrastructure that exceeds their abysmally low minimum design standards.

It should be noted that this is a MAJOR route for cyclists traveling east/west.  Trinity County Pineland Park and three elementary schools sit on Sunset Drive.  These attributes make this stretch of roadway the perfect candidate for a complete streets initiative by FDOT.

Today I received this email from Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera that stated in part:

As far as the Citywide Bicycle Lane Master Plan completed in December of 2004 by Marlin Engineering, I plan on formally requesting that we start the first phase of it. If you recall, the first phase was re-stripping a number of existing roads. Stay tuned…”

This is the kind of leadership that we need. This is a good first step Commissioner Cabrera. Keep up the good work!

Until recently Miami had never really given bicycling much consideration. During the past year or so the bicycling movement has gained momentum here. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved by the Miami commissioners, bicycle lanes are slowly popping up and we see more and more cyclists on the road everyday. This is certainly a good thing; however I’m a little concerned about the quality of some of our bicycle lanes on roads were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph.

For example, here in Miami we have had several bicycle lanes placed on roadways were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph and we can even find unprotected bicycles lanes placed adjacent to roadways were the design speed is closer to 50-65 mph. The probability of death or serious injury to a vulnerable cyclist increases substantially as motor vehicle speeds increase. Therefore before painting unprotected bicycle lanes, we need to make sure that the speed of traffic does not exceed 35-40 mph.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So this got me thinking, perhaps the best way to bring cycling into the mainstream in cities that are not accustomed to cycling would be to create a bicycle network which designates specific roads as high priority routes for cyclists. Cities would focus spending and market these high priority routes; they could be called Urban Bicycle Networks. Marketing is key and fundamental to the Urban Bicycles Network’s success; it would be seen as sexy and cool and would be a matter of pride for a city.

The high priority routes would serve as the backbone to a city’s Urban Bicycle Network. Once a city designates the high priority routes, speeding fines within it would double much like in a road construction work zone. Of course, there would need to be clear markers so that motorists and bicyclists are aware of the special conditions that prevail within the road they are traveling on. The Urban Bicycle Network would not be expensive to implement and 50% of the total fines from moving violations within it would be reallocated back in to the network to make improvements and for maintenance.

I’m not sure if what I am suggesting is legal, but I’m trying to think out of the box here. The doubling of speeding fines within the Urban Bicycle Network would quickly educate motorists about the cyclist’s right to be on the road, reduce the speed of traffic and cyclists would be encouraged to use those roads which are safest for them.

Mr. R.K Smith, 88, with his 1953 Schwinn Cruiser

In my never-ending quest to add a truly vintage bicycle to my collection, this morning I stopped by a garage sale in Coconut Grove while on my morning bike ride. There out of the corner of my eye I spotted a 1953 Schwinn cruiser owned by Mr. R.K. Smith. Mr. Smith, a World War II veteran, purchased this beauty in Coconut Grove that very same year. Mr. Smith informed me that he rides his Schwinn Cruiser everyday for about a mile and a half to the Coconut Grove Library; this Halloween he will be 89 years old.

Mr. Smith is an inspiration to me.  I sure hope that when I am 88 I am still healthy, enjoying life and riding a bicycle everyday. When designing bicycle infrastructure we need to consider all users. We would be a much healthier society if everyone who reaches the age of Mr. Smith were still on two wheels.

Mr. Smith told me that a lot of people have offered to purchase his bike. He won’t sell it; and rightfully so.  She’s been with him for the past 57 years. It’s a beautiful bike which needs to remain with its owner. Thank you for serving our country Sir and being an inspiration to all cyclists.

Leave your car at home and roll to school on two wheels. All the cool kids are doing it!

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Bus stop replaced again for the 4th time in the past year and a half

As reported a couple of weeks ago, the bus stop on Brickell and 15th Street was taken out for the 3rd or 4th time in the past year and a half by a speeding vehicle. Apparently the last accident involved a motorcycle which burned the bus stop to a crisp.  Last week the bus stop was replaced yet again.

Photo: http://twitpic.com/16yem5

Damaged bus stop on Brickell Avenue and 15th Street

Although we keep replacing the bus stop, the fundamental issue of speeding on Brickell Avenue isn’t being dealt with.  How many more times does this bus stop need to be flattened before the City of Miami addresses the underlying cause of these accidents? A short term solution would be to move the bus stop to a less dangerous location; the current location is on a very treacherous curve.

Given the history of the bus stop, it’s only a matter of time before this happens again. Hopefully no one will be injured when it does occur.

Photo: SFBC

Transit Miami’s very own Kathryn Moore has been appointed Executive Director of the South Florida Bicycle Coalition. Kathryn is an excellent choice for the Executive Director position. She was instrumental in coordinating Bike Miami Days and she was awarded the Young Professional of the Year by the Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals. Her experience and enthusiasm for cycling will undeniably be an asset for the SFBC.  The SFBC is in good hands with Kathryn. Congratulations Kathryn!

In other news, the SFBC coalition just returned from Washington D.C. where they attended the annual National Bike Summit. Kathryn along with SFBC President Jeffrey Lynne were in D.C. rubbing elbows with the who’s who in the cycling world.  You can rest assured that the SFBC is energized and ready to make South Florida safer for all cyclists.

Soon you will be able to join the SFBC as a member. Please check back with us for more details or check out the SFBC blog.  The word on the livable streets is that the SFBC will be a holding a fundraiser with plenty of alcohol! What can be better than talking about bikes over some booze?

Friend of Transit Miami Dana Weinstein recently wrote an editorial for the Miami Herald to commemorate Bike Month. Although Dina commutes with her two children to school on bicycles, she does not suggest that inexperienced cyclists/parents follow her lead. She says, “It really takes someone with almost a death wish to walk or bike”.

Part of me agrees with Dina.  Ever since Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway in January, I have come to view bicycling as a dangerous activity.

I love biking; it is part of who I am. I used to be fearless and after my stint in the Peace Corps I biked with 2 friends from Guatemala to Panama. Bicycling brings me great joy, but I no longer feel safe biking in Miami. What I feel is vulnerable. This is particularly true on our causeways, where bicycle lanes are placed next to cars which are moving at 45-75mph without any sort of hard or soft barrier to protect cyclists (i.e. Rickenbacker Causeway and MacArthur Causeway).  When I do bike now, I choose roads where the design speed of the roadway does not exceed 25-30 mph.  Even when bike lanes are present, such as the Coral Way bike lanes, I do not use them because cars are moving at 45-50mph. I prefer taking a side street were traffic moves slower.

Perhaps I am just getting old. Or perhaps now that I am married I am aware of the tremendous loss I would leave behind if I suffered the same fate as Christophe Le Canne. But the lack of proper bicycle infrastructure in Miami has been forcing me recently to drive my bicycle up to Oleta River State Park so that I may get the exercise I enjoy.  I feel defeated that I have been relegated to biking in a park.

In the interest of full disclosure, I still ride my bike (in my suit) to work everyday. Although it is only about 6 blocks away I have way too many close calls on a regular basis.

Is this the way we must live? My hope is that we can develop streets for all users in South Florida.

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