Posts by: Felipe Azenha

I just finished reading the 2010 Emerging Trends in Real Estate.  Now in its 31st year, this report is jointly produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). This is the first time I have read this report, but I am very impressed. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers webpage this report:

is the oldest, most highly regarded annual industry outlook for the real estate and land use industry and includes interviews and survey responses from more than 900 leading real estate experts, including investors, developers, property company representatives, lenders, brokers and consultants.”

The report is downright bearish on real estate development for 2010.The report goes on the say that real estate developers are “largely dead” and that “builders can leave on long sabbaticals”. They don’t foresee construction picking up until 2012, but when it does, most construction will be focused on urban infill development.

This is great news for those of us that believe that our cities are our future. Below are some of my favorite excerpts from this report:

Next generation projects will orient to infill, urbanizing suburbs, and transit-oriented development. Smaller housing units-close to mass transit, work and 24 hour amenities-gain favor over large houses on big lots at the suburban edge.  People will continue to see greater convenience and want to reduce energy expenses, shorter commutes and smaller heating bills make up for high infill real estate costs.” (Page 12)

Infill vs. Suburbs. Road congestion, higher energy costs, and climate change concerns combine to alter people’s thinking about where they decide to live and work.  ‘It’s a fundamental shift.’ The lifestyle cost-of-living equation starts to swing away more dramatically from bigger houses on bigger lots at the suburban edge to great convenience and efficiencies gained from infill housing closer to work. These homes maybe more expensive on a price-per-pound basis, but reduced driving costs and lower heating/cooling bills provide offsets. And time saved avoiding traffic hassles moderates stress and enhances productivity. ‘Two-hour commutes reach a tipping point with higher energy costs’ and ‘near-in suburbs will do well especially if they link to business cores by mass transportation.” (Page 32)

Investors tend to favor the following:

  • Global gateway markets on East and West coasts- featuring international airports, ports and major commercial centers.
  • Cities and urbanizing infill suburbs with 24-hour attributes-upscale, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, convenient office, retail, entertainment, and recreation districts; mass transit alternatives to driving; good schools (public and/private); and relatively safe streets.
  • Brainpower centers-places that offer dynamic combination of colleges and universities, high paying industries-high tech, biotech, finance, and health cars (medical centers drug companies)- and government offices.” (Page 27)

Denver metro area wins points for building out its light-rail network, encouraging transit –oriented mixed-use projects around stations.” (Page 35)

So what does this mean for Miami’s future?

  • We should hold the Urban Development Boundary, this report confirms that 2 hour commutes are out of vogue.
  • Miami 21 should be implemented immediately and not delayed any further.
  • A large scale light rail system, including Baylink, is long overdue
  • If Miami wants to become a competitive city we need to diversify our economy as much as possible in order to become a brainpower center. A service economy based predominantly on tourism will not attract educated people seeking high paying jobs.

For those of you that will be able to attend, please be sure to ask FDOT if they feel like the new bike lanes on the MacArthur Causeway are safe.  Ask them if they would feel comfortable if their children rode in this bike lane. A completely unprotected bicycle lane on a major highway, that starts and ends abruptly, is not safe nor is it a very good idea. The minimum standard that was applied to the MacArthur Causeway bike lanes are better suited for a road that has a design speed of 25 mph, not 70 mph.

From FDOT:

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District Six, will conduct a public information meeting about a roadway project on State Road (S.R.) A1A / 5th Street / MacArthur Causeway from West Avenue to Collins Avenue on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Miami Beach Police Athletic League, 999 11th Street, Miami Beach, FL.

The proposed scope of work includes: repaving of the road; replacement of damaged sidewalks, curbs and gutters; reconstruction of pedestrian ramps; median closure at Euclid Avenue to improve safety conditions; addition of bicycle lanes; minor signalization improvements; and new signs and pavement markings.

Graphic displays of the project will be showcased at this meeting and FDOT representatives will be available to discuss the project and answer questions. Please contact Marta Rodriguez, Public Information Specialist, if you have any questions about this project at 305-470-5203 or by email at marta.rodriguez@dot.state.fl.us.

Dear City of Coral Gables Commissioners, Manager, & Public Works Department:

I am writing to voice my concern that the City Beautiful is not doing enough to serve the growing demand for simple bicycle and pedestrian improvements. I would like to make you aware that Miami-Dade County has monies currently allocated for striping existing county roads adding bike lanes at no cost to the municipality. Coral Gables should be taking advantage of this FREE money and infrastructure improvements. Specifically, Alhambra Drive should be considered to connect UM to Downtown and Miller Road for students.

Additionally, Miami-Dade County is resurfacing Sunset Drive and Coral Way from Red Road eastward. These county projects could easily add bicycle lanes and reduce vehicle speeds on these residential roads by reducing the lane widths to 11′ with a 4′ bike lane. This would not require the removal of any trees or change the character of the roadway while making these routes safer for cyclists and vehicles. Again these improvements would not cost the city. Please coordinate with Commissioner Gimenez (Sunset Dr) and Commissioner Sosa (Coral Way) offices.

Lastly, FDOT is reconstructing Bird Road and Red Road. Florida State Law requires that FDOT add pedestrian ADA improvements and bicycle improvements. The city should be requesting FDOT add bicycle lanes for safety purposes. Again vehicle lanes can be slightly shrunk and a few extra feet of pavement would allow bicycle lanes. Again this would not cost the city. Please contact District 6 FDOT and request bicycle lanes be added.

These 7 projects would add over 10 miles of bicycle lanes and more than quadruple the existing bicycle infrastructure in Coral Gables for free. This would provide safer roads for all commuters, take vehicle traffic and greenhouse gases off the roads, provide recreational routes to see our many city treasures and move Coral Gables Bicycle Master Plan forward into implementation. The Manager should request in writing to the responsible agencies immediately.

I would be happy to meet with anyone individually to discuss these routes, contacts, or organizing a bicycle action committee of residents and cyclists. This could be an offshoot of the city’s “Green” efforts. Thank-you for your immediate attention as many of these projects are beginning construction and the County money is only available now.

Alex Adams
Coral Gables

Tagged with:
 

If you aren’t already, please become a Transit Miami facebook fan.  We post all our articles on facebook and also post articles from other sources that Transit Miami readers may find interesting.  Please spread the word about Transit Miami and thanks for all your support!

Tagged with:
 

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.

Tagged with:
 

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.

Tagged with:
 

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.

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.