Posts by: Felipe Azenha

Can Miami Develop Now with Less Parking

From Miami Urbanist:

Miami’s excessively high minimum parking requirements can prevent a great project from moving forward. A developer may have a brilliant idea for a site, but if he or she cannot accommodate parking within the footprint of the site the project will likely not break ground. The sad truth is that parking dictates development in Miami and minimum parking requirements have a significant negative impact on the development of our city.

Livable Places gives a great summary of the problems created with minimum parking requirements.  Below you will also find some of their suggested “Smart” solutions for dealing with parking.

The Problems with Minimum Parking Requirements

Creates excess parking
Minimum parking requirements are usually set arbitrarily by city planners from standardized transportation planning manuals, which typically measure parking and trip generation rates in suburban areas at peak periods with ample free parking and no public transit. These parking standards can cause an oversupply of parking – taking up valuable land and lowering the price of parking below cost.

Promotes automobile use
Providing plentiful and free parking encourages automobile use and discourages walking, cycling and transit use. Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA recognized as a leading scholar on parking issues, compares minimum parking requirements that mandate excessive off-street parking to “fertility drugs for cars.” By generating more car trips, inefficient parking requirements contribute to increased air pollution and reduced physical activity.

Increases the cost of development
Requiring developers to provide large amounts of off-street parking significantly adds to the cost of new development, especially in urban areas where land costs are high. These costs are typically passed to consumers, through higher housing prices and rents. 

Average development cost of parking (excluding land)

Type of parking facility

Cost/space

Surface lot $2,000
Multi-level above ground $10,000
Subterranean $20,000

 

“Smart” Solutions for Dealing with Parking

Reduce minimum parking standards
Urban planners need to re-examine parking demand in urban areas where land and parking costs are higher, and transportation alternatives exist. Reducing minimum parking requirements will help to create more livable communities by reducing the abundant supply of free parking and encouraging transit use.

Establish maximum parking requirements near major transit stops
In areas well served by transit, planners should consider the use of maximum parking requirements to limit the amount of off-street parking built. These requirements prevent auto-oriented uses from occupying land near rail and bus stations, and encourage the creation of transit-oriented districts, or transit villages.

Unbundle the cost of parking in residential projects
Typically, the cost of parking is included in the home price or rent of a condominium or apartment. Unbundling the cost of parking from housing costs allows off-street parking to be priced in response to the actual demand for parking, and lets consumers pay the cost of their transportation choices.

Shared parking
Shared parking is an effective tool for reducing the number of parking spaces needed for a project or neighborhood. Shared parking strategies can be implemented within a new mixed-use development, through simple agreements between adjacent, or through a parking management district. Parking districts can also encourage pedestrian activity by encouraging people to park once and walk from destination to destination.

Car Sharing
Car sharing programs allow many individuals to share access to a vehicle. Located within a housing development, car sharing can lower the average household vehicle ownership rate, reducing the demand for parking. Several car sharing companies are starting to partner with housing developers to include car sharing programs within their new developments.

Thankfully ULI will host an event on July 19th to discuss this very important issue that  affects all of us and the future development of our city. Please forward this event notice to your city commissioners and your developer friends. It’s really important that they attend this event. Click here to signup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Transit Dave in response to Metrorail to FIU: Transit in the start-up city:

“Don’t Forget that the orange line was supposed to link MIA, FIU and Miami Dade College North Campus as well. Johnny Remigo, The PTP alone raises upwards of 175 Mil a year. It is an adequate funding source, if we had politicians who were committed to delivering the transit system the voters wanted when we voted for the PTP. Alas, 11 years later, we’re still waiting. As has been written on this forum by others including me, we won’t have a reform of the PTP until we have reform at the county government level. The shame of it is that we could have another 20 or 30 miles of Metrorail built or under construction if we had the local leadership to go along with honest management of the PTP funds.”

We could not have said it any better Transit Dave. You can read more about Miami’s embarrassing lack of leadership- “Miam’s Lack of Leadership

 

Written by Peter Smith

Writing in the Pacific Standard, geographer Jim Russell made a claim that would have been unthinkable to most a year ago. “Portland is dying,” he wrote, and “Pittsburgh is thriving.” The economy of Portland, Oregon, the darling of the creative class-fueled urban renaissance, has stagnated from its inability to create jobs and tackle high unemployment. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, a poster case for Rust Belt decline, even as it hosted the 2009 G-20 Summit, has notched employment records month after month. The difference, Russell notes, essentially boils down to this: Carnegie Mellon University.

It’s a tale of talent attraction versus talent creation. Portland doesn’t create much of its own talent; it has to attract it from elsewhere, and in that regard, it must compete with San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Chicago, and LA. It’s a losing battle. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, home of Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, and Duquesne, pumps out more talent than it can accommodate. Many may not remain in Pittsburgh - a few may even end up in Portland - but many will stay. Their ties to the area are too strong to break, and they’re the ones who are fueling the comeback. The tag line of Russell’s blog, Burgh Diaspora, poses the following challenge, “Since education makes a person more likely to leave your region, how do you justify your investment in human capital?” Asked another way, how do you get your best and brightest to stay? How do you prevent a brain drain? It’s a question Miami is familiar with. Miami is currently fighting a brain drain while simultaneously seeking to cultivate a start-up, entrepreneurial culture.

On the West Coast, San Diego offers an answer. In the 1990s, when city officials set out to expand the city’s light rail network, the Trolley, for the first time in nearly twenty years, they considered a novel approach. None of the city’s major universities were connected to the transit system, so planners sought to remedy that. The blue line, which opened in 2005, has stops at the University of San Diego and San Diego State University. The silver line, which is gearing up to break ground in a year, will link UCSD to the system. In total, nearly 60,000 students from top universities who had no transit access a decade ago will be connected to the Trolley.

One rationale for this approach is that it cultivates transit ridership. College students tend to be flexible and open to trying new things, and experience shows that if we can acclimate students to using transit during their college years, they’ll be much more likely to use transit at other times in their lives.

Perhaps more importantly, and more germane to our purpose here, transit builds and reinforces the bonds that individuals have with their cities. It also connects people and ideas with each other in ways that other forms of transportation struggle to do. The premise underlying San Diego’s planning decisions is that transit links its riders to the city’s residents, its cultural offerings, and its business communities. It creates bonds between individuals and their city, and builds the social capital that encourages students to put down roots and thrive. Pittsburgh is succeeding because life at Carnegie Mellon is so entwined with life at Pitt and Duquesne and the rest of downtown Pittsburgh and its business community that by the time students graduate they’re already so connected to business opportunities and to entrepreneurial peers and to the city itself that it becomes easy and natural to stay put. San Diego is on the way to accomplishing the same phenomenon by building social and professional connections through building physical transportation infrastructure.

Turning to Miami, our city deserves some credit for having the foresight to build Metrorail to UM. Much has changed since 1985, though, and UM is not the only major university in South Florida anymore. FIU is now the seventh largest university in the United States. It enrolls over 50,000 students and is approved to expand to 63,000 in the coming years. It is roughly five times larger than UM by enrollment. It has all the hallmarks of a world-class institute of higher education: a medical school, a law school, a top-ranked business school, and all the traditional liberal arts and sciences that standard fare at the best schools. There’s still one common feature that it does not share with other great universities in major metropolitan areas: a transit connection.

San Diego may have been the first city in recent years to map its transit system around universities, but it’s not alone. Nearly all mass transit system expansions in the United States over the past decade have included new stops serving universities. Here’s a sample:

Phoenix: In 2008, service began on Phoenix’s METRO light rail system. It connects downtown Phoenix with Arizona State University. ASU is the largest university in the United States at 63,000 students and is the model that newer large public research universities, like FIU, follow.

Denver: No city in the United States has expanded its transit system in recent years as much as Denver. Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) has opened five new light rail lines since 2002, bringing the total number of lines in operation to six. Under RTD’s $6.5 billion FasTracks initiative, the system will add as many as six new light rail and commuter rail lines, in addition to extensions of existing lines, between 2013 and 2016. Every one of the system’s lines serves the city’s Auraria campus, a multi-school mega-campus that houses the University of Colorado-Denver, Metropolitan State University, and the Community College of Denver. Approximately 60,000 students, nearly one-fifth of all Colorado college students, attend classes on the Auraria campus. In 2006, RTD began service on the E, F, and H lines, which also connects with the University of Denver and its more than 11,000 students. FasTracks will ultimately include a commuter rail line, as well, connecting to the University of Colorado at Boulder and its nearly 30,000 students. Under FasTrack’s highly praised $1.67 billion predecessor, T-REX (Transportation Expansion), RTD succeeded in connecting downtown Denver and its Auraria campus with the Denver Tech Center, the region’s second largest employment center and home to many technology and finance firms.

Minneapolis: In late 2010, Minneapolis’s METRO began work on the system’s second light rail line, the Green Line. The Green Line will connect the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul. The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is the nation’s sixth-largest university with nearly 52,000 students. The Green Line is currently under construction and service is expected to begin in 2014. It will have two stations on the University of Minnesota campus.

Seattle: In 2009, Seattle opened the first leg of the Central Link light rail system. Before service even began, the city’s Sound Transit started construction on the University Link extension. The University Link will connect the University of Washington with downtown Seattle. The University of Washington is one of the largest universities in the nation with approximately 43,000 students. The University Link will open for service in 2016.

Houston: When Houston’s METRO opened its first light rail line in 2004, it placed the line’s northern terminus at University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and sent the line straight through Rice University and the Texas Medical Center. UHD is the University of Houston system’s second largest campus with nearly 13,000 students. Rice University is home to over 6,000 students. Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, is home to academic branches, including three medical schools, from countless universities, including Baylor University, Rice University, the University of Texas, and the University of Houston, among others. In total, approximately 49,000 students study at the Texas Medical Center. METRO broke ground on a second light rail line, the Purple Line, in 2009. The Purple Line, which will begin service in 2014, will have three stations serving the University of Houston’s (UH) main campus and one station serving the campus of Texas Southern University (TSU). The University of Houston is home to over 40,000 students and Texas Southern University enrolls over 10,000 students. In addition to the Purple Line, METRO is also planning the University/Blue Line, which will connect UH and TSU with the southern end of downtown, near Rice University and the Texas Medical Center. The University/Blue Line will have two stations serving TSU and two stations serving UH. In total, in excess of 100,000 students in Houston who did not have transit access a decade ago, will have transit links to the rest of the city.

Charlotte: Construction on Charlotte Area Transit System’s LYNX light rail extension to the Blue Line will begin in January 2014. The extension will connect the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to the Blue Line through Uptown Charlotte. UNC Charlotte enrolls over 26,000 students. The Blue Line extension is expected to begin service in 2017.

These examples do not just show that cities are expanding their transit systems to reach their universities; they show that cities are making it a priority to do so. Nearly every transit expansion of the past decade in the United States has included a link to a college or university. The advantages are substantial. College students are among the most likely to use and benefit from mass transit. Transit also helps in answering the question, how can cities encourage their best and brightest to put down roots and keep their talents at home? It is difficult the overestimate the role that transit can play in cementing bonds between citizens and the places they call home. A survey by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for example, found that transit riders were as much as twice as likely as non-transit riders to say that they felt a “strong connection” with their city. Transit is the physical infrastructure that connects citizens with each other, with business opportunities, and with cultural amenities. These things make people more productive and happier, and therefore more likely to stick around.

Miami is part of a shrinking ring of cities with transit systems that do not connect with the region’s major universities. FIU is part of a shrinking ring of major urban universities lacking transit connections with their regions’ employment and cultural centers. The revived expansion plans from the early 2000s to extend Metrorail out to FIU once again seem to have fizzled out. As a city struggling to tackle a brain drain while working to build a sustainable economy, Miami must find better ways to leverage its anchor institutions to produce, retain, and cultivate human capital. Arguably, perhaps no institution is more prolific in these respects than FIU. FIU graduates over 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students every year and has over 200,000 alumni, over half of which live in South Florida. Yet FIU’s main campus is geographically isolated just a few miles from downtown. It sits trapped between three highways – 836, 826, and the Turnpike – that cut it off from every major employment and cultural center in South Florida. Students, as weak as the excuse may be, routinely miss class because of traffic and parking difficulties, and students often schedule classes to avoid 8th Street rush hour. We know that long commutes in traffic make us less productive, less creative, less healthy, and less happy. We know that highways have an historical legacy as insurmountable barriers that block the spread of ideas and prosperity. If we’re serious about developing Miami’s twenty-first century economy, we must better connect the city’s economic engines and human capital centers – FIU, UM, downtown, Brickell, Wynwood, etc. One component to this must include improving the physical infrastructure connections that link these sites, which means Metrorail expansion must be returned to the region’s agenda. Without the bonds between people and their city that transit ridership helps build, as it has in places like Pittsburg and San Diego, Miami’s highly skilled residents will continue to be likely to leave for greener pastures. And unless we are able to keep our best and brightest here and leverage their talents, Miami’s vision for a thriving twenty-first century economy will remain off in the distance just down the track.

 

Looks like we finally have a developer in the 305 that understands the importance of mobility options for urban dwellers. Newgard Development Group will soon begin construction of Centro in downtown Miami and they are marketing the building to potential buyers as a project that provides transportation choices for future residents. Not only will Centro be located in the heart of downtown, just blocks away from premium transit, but the developer has partnered with car2go to provide a car-share service at the building’s doorstep. In addition, Centro will have a bike share program for its residents as well.

 

Centro

 

Harvey Hernandez, Chairman and Managing Director, of the Newgard Development Group is clearly thinking out of the box and understands the importance of offering transportation options to urbanites. Last week  I sat down with Mr. Hernandez to discuss his new project. Below is the interview I did with him for Miami Urbanist.

Newgard Development Group Chairman and Managing Director Harvey Hernandez sat down with me to discuss his two Miami projects that are currently under development in Brickell and Downtown. BrickellHouse is under construction and Centro will break ground later this year in the heart of Downtown Miami. The partners of Newgard Development Group have spent 15 years in the South Florida real estate market. Founded by Harvey Hernandez, Newgard’s management team brings 40 years of combined experience in development, design and construction. Newgard’s approach to development includes innovative luxury buildings in desirable, centrally located neighborhoods, pedestrian-oriented lifestyles with cutting-edge amenities.

Miami Urbanist: Miami and Orlando will soon be connected by rail thanks to All Aboard Florida. Hopefully, commuter rail will soon follow. What opportunities do you see for transit-oriented development in South Florida?

Harvey Hernandez: We see great opportunity here. One of the main reasons we chose the Centro site was its proximity to transit.  We believe in density and that having premium transit within walking distance is an attractive alternative to the car. Our consumers don’t necessarily own two cars; many are able to live comfortably with one or no car. In fact we have teamed up with car2go and they will have a designated Parkspot hub on the ground floor of our building.

Miami Urbanist: What are the strongest characteristics of the Centro site?

Harvey Hernandez: It’s in the middle of everything! It’s close to Brickell and within walking distance of mass transit.  Whole Foods and Brickell CityCentre will soon open a couple of blocks from Centro.

Miami Urbanist: Please explain the parking situation at Centro, there seems to be a few misconceptions about parking.

Harvey Hernandez: Zoning allows us to provide parking offsite; therefore we don’t have to build parking. The parking garage is within 100 yards of Centro. We have entered into an agreement with the Miami Parking Authority to provide parking. We also provide 24-hour valet service and there is always the car2go hub at our doorstep.

Miami Urbanist: Has the parking situation discouraged people from buying at Centro?

Harvey Hernandez: We don’t see it at all. The buyers are coming from all segments of the market; whether they are young professionals, retirees, or 2nd home consumers they have one thing in common—less reliance on the car. All of our buyers want the urban living experience—they want to walk to restaurants, bars, the arts and other amenities.  Many of our buyers are coming from suburbia; they don’t want to deal with long drives and the cost associated with maintaining a car.

Miami Urbanist: There is also a bike share component to Centro, would you please elaborate on this?

Continue reading »

 

My neighbors and I have been trying for several months to get the County and the City to do something about the out-of-control speeding problem on our street, but sadly the County and City have been dragging their feet and nothing has been done to address this very serious issue. Meanwhile drivers continue to speed on this residential street, at times hitting speeds of nearly 50mph.

Last week, the “Cone Fairy” swopped into Belle Meade in the middle of the night, and placed three traffic cones on NE 76th Street in an attempt to calm traffic on my street. Apparently the Cone Fairy is also sick and tired of the lack of progress by the County and City and she has taken it upon herself to place cones in the middle of the street in order to calm traffic. It appears that a small minority of my neighbors are not pleased with the cones nor do they seem to think that speeding is enough of a concern to properly address this very important issue.

A couple of weeks ago the Belle Meade HOA decided to take a vote on what to do:

This is the direction they choose to take:

1.       Continue on-going process to have stamped asphalt (brick look) to all the crosswalks presently in Belle Meade.  This will add some aesthetics to the streetscape plus make the crosswalks more prominently visible to vehicle operators.

2.       Further pursue the installation of stop signs on 76th Street at NE 7th Court – both east and west bound – in an effort to slow traffic as it makes its way between 7thand 8th Avenues.  The County recently conducted a traffic study of this location to determine the eligibility for these signs and concluded that they were not warranted based on traffic flow.  Those in attendance last night requested that the HOA Board pursue the installation anyway through the political process based upon wanting to slow traffic.  The next step is to contact our County Commissioner, Edmonson, since traffic signage is under the county and get direction from her on how we should proceed.

3.       Initiate a public awareness/education program in Belle Meade to bring attention to the increased number of children in our neighborhood and the need to obey all the traffic regulations when driving through the neighborhood.

Yesterday my neighbor, Jenny Page sent the below email to Commissioner Edmonson and Commissioner Sarnoff in a desperate attempt to get the County and City to do something.

Dear Mr. Sarnoff,

I am a voter and we met one day at our house for a campaign visit.  We were delighted to meet you in person and believe you have done well by Miami and particularly in Belle Meade. I am writing to ask you if you could help make our neighborhood safer by installing 2 stop signs on the intersection where we live, at NE 76th Street and 7th Court.  I am attached a visual map illustrating the exact location and surrounding families.

This is one of the only intersections in Belle Meade without a stop sign and people are speeding like crazy - like 40-50mph sometimes - up and down 76th because of it.  As you probably know it is the street with the guard gate and so many cars are using this street.  There are other, quieter streets/intersections with stop signs so it seems odd that there would not be one here.

Our neighborhood has met about this but there is some discord about what to do, many expensive options came about like a traffic circle, raised sidewalks etc.

It seems to me that a simple stop sign would at least slow drivers down.  This option is inexpensive and causes little inconvenience.

We live right on the NE corner of this intersection and within the 2 blocks of 76th that are affected by the speeders are at least 5 dogs, and 12 children.  The constant speeding of cars puts all people walking, biking, playing in our neighborhood in jeopardy.

Please advise if this is a possibility and what our block could do to move this concern forward.

Jenny Page

 

 Dear Ms. Edmonson and Staff,

I am a voter and taxpayer residing on NE 76th Street in Belle Meade.  We send our kids to the lovely public Morningside K-8 Academy and love the fact that we can walk there.  Though on our street we experience excessive speeding which makes it more dangerous than it has to be.

I am writing to ask you if you could help make our neighborhood safer by installing 2 stop signs on the intersection where we live, at NE 76th Street and 7th Court.  I am attached a visual map illustrating the exact location and surrounding families with kids and grandkids.

This is one of the only intersections in Belle Meade without a stop sign and people are speeding like crazy - like 40-50mph sometimes - up and down 76th because of it.  This is the entrance/exit street for the neighborhood and so many cars are using this street.  There are other, quieter streets/intersections with stop signs so it seems odd that there would not be one here, where there is the most traffic.

Our neighborhood has met about this but there is some discord about what we can do, many expensive options came about like a traffic circle, raised sidewalks etc.

It seems to me that a simple stop sign would at least slow drivers down.  This option is inexpensive and causes little inconvenience and the tradeoff for a safer community is important.

We live right on the NE corner of this intersection and within the 2 blocks of 76th that are affected by the speeders are at least 5 dogs, and 12 children.  The constant speeding of cars puts all people walking, biking, playing in our neighborhood in jeopardy.

Please advise if this is a possibility and what our block could do to move this concern forward.

Many thanks for all your help with our Miami Community!

Jenny Page

 

We here are Transit Miami have been advocating for raised crosswalks, raised intersections or a speed tables. Although we don’t think a stop sign is the ideal solution to calm traffic in the long term, at this point we are willing to compromise with a stop sign if the County were to allow it.

Raised Crosswalk

Raised Crosswalk

Raised intersection

Raised intersection

Speed table. Not to be confused with speed bumps.

Speed table. Not to be confused with speed bumps.

As for the stamped brick crosswalks, it is a complete waste of money and will not calm traffic. I really hope the city does not agree to waste more money on silly infective urban planning in Belle Meade. Urban planning by majority rule clearly has not worked thus far: i.e. the Belle Meade fence. (see video below)

Stamped brick crosswalks will not calm traffic.

Stamped brick crosswalks will not calm traffic.

This  leads me to ask a question- Why isn’t the City of Miami Planning Department involved in any of these decisions? This department has some wonderful professionals. Instead the city’s Capital Improvement Projects Department and the County Public Works Department is involved in all of these decisions.

Something needs to give and City and County need to stop dragging their feet asap before a child is killed in my neighborhood.

If something isn’t done asap I have a feeling that the Cone Fairy will be back with a vengeance.  After all she is just looking out for children, parents with strollers, cyclists and pets. It’s really a shame that some of my neighbors can’t appreciate the  good intentions of the Cone Fairy.

 

 

Microsoft Word - MPath-HappyHour-Flyer.docx

 

Date: May 23, 2013
Time: 5-7pm
Location: Titanic Restaurant and Brewery, 5813 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33146

Ride your bike or walk to Titanic Brewery and get drink specials and free appetizers! Bike valet will be provided by Green Mobility Network. Click here to RSVP:http://urbanhp.wufoo.com/forms/may-is-for-mpath-happy-hour-rsvp/

 

Written by Peter Smith

Two summers ago, I attended a presentation on mobility at the Department of Transportation’s new headquarters in Navy Yard. My then-boss, Mariia Zimmerman, was speaking on our nation’s preparedness to deal with an aging population in an auto-centric culture, and she gave a startling statistic: eighty-five percent of Baby Boomers live in communities where the car is the only viable means of transportation - walking included - and when asked how they intend to complete activities of daily living - grocery shopping, doctors appointments, church services - when they’re no longer able to drive, nearly all of them chose a single response: my children will drive me. That. Is. Insane. It’s also really poor planning, but first and foremost it’s insane.

I was reminded of this mind-blowing stat this week when my parents moved from my childhood home in one of Baltimore’s shoulder-to-shoulder brick row neighborhoods to a mid-century planned community. Their new home is in the Village of Cross Keys, the first planned community ever built by James Rouse, the man who coined the term “urban renewal.” Past the community’s guard tower, the tree-lined residential streets, named for great Baltimore planners like Edward Bouton and Frederick Law Olmstead, abut shops and restaurants. There’s a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a hotel. It’s just outside of downtown, but feels like a small hamlet. It sounds like a great place to retire, and indeed, it is marketed as an ideal community for active retirees.

The Village of Cross Keys, for all its amenities though, is not without its shortcomings. For instance, it lacks a grocery store… and a pharmacy… and a church and synagogue… and a school. Cross Keys has also been sold as a great place to raise a family, which is even more bewildering. The closest bus stop is outside the community’s fence over a half-mile from the residential heart along roads that sometimes have sidewalks, but sometimes don’t. In short, its boutique shops and chic cafes may make it a great place for retirees to waste lazy afternoons, but they don’t necessarily make it a great place to grow old, or even a great place to just live.

As a society, we’re becoming increasingly aware, thanks to the efforts of the First Lady and others to tackle childhood obesity, of the challenges that our nation’s children face from un-walkable communities; less than five percent of American children now live in a community where they can walk or bike to school. We’re far less conscious, however, of the challenges presented to the older generations, those who will in time be unable to drive and will therefore more than anyone else benefit from walkable, not to mention inter-generational, neighborhoods.

Miami has its share of America’s aging population as well as its share of un-walkable communities. I set out to discover just how big the problem is that Miami will face; how many older Miamians live in communities that will increasingly fail to meet their needs as they grow older? To do this, I looked at population data from Miami-Dade’s 77 inhabited zip codes and stood it up against each zip code’s ratings from WalkScore.

A quick caveat - WalkScore is not a perfect measure of walkability by any means, but validation studies confirm that it’s pretty much as good a measurement as anyone has ever devised. If anything, many of its shortcomings, such as its failure to consider lack of sidewalks or hostile road environments, would mean scores in places like Miami are likely higher than they should be, but as you’ll see, Miami’s scores aren’t very high as it is.

WalkScore assigns a score to any address in the United States and elsewhere that is representative of the area’s walkability. It measures walkability by proximity to amenities, such as groceries, restaurants, parks, schools, etc. The final score falls along a scale of 0-100, which corresponds to the following five walkability categories:

  • Walker’s Paradise (90-100): Daily errands do not require a car.
  • Very Walkable (70-89): Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
  • Somewhat Walkable (50-69): Some amenities are within walking distance.
  • Car-Dependent (25-49): A few amenities are within walking distance.
  • Car-Dependent (0-24): All errands require a car.

Ideally, any individual, especially older Americans would be able to walk to at least the most basic necessities, but as it turns out, for many that’s not the case. There are 463,940 people in Miami-Dade County who are age 60 or older and a full one-third of them live in areas where almost nothing is accessible without a car. Here’s a pie chart with the county-wide breakdown:

 

Untitled1

 

One of the first things that you probably noted was that the percentage of older Miamians living in areas categorized as a “Walker’s Paradise” is zero. That’s because there is no zip code in Dade County that tops the required score threshold of 90; the highest is a respectable 85, achieved by zip codes in Coconut Grove and Little Havana. Once you get over the shock, or not, that Miami is no Walker’s Paradise, you’ll see that about 70 percent of the county’s older residents live in areas where approximately half or more of basic needs cannot be accomplished on foot.

The median WalkScore for older Miamians is 57, which is solidly in the lower-middle share of the Somewhat Walkable category. To give a sense of what a “somewhat walkable” community is like, consider zip code 33186, which includes the area where the Florida Turnpike intersects with Kendall Avenue and has a WalkScore rating of 60. It’s home to just shy of 10,000 Miamians age 60 and older. From a typical house inside the sub-development just off the Turnpike at Kendall Avenue, it’s over a mile roundtrip for groceries, and a mile-and-a-half for a cup of coffee or a trip to the park. The closest bus stop is a half-mile away. For an older person in the hot Miami sun, distances like those can be pretty isolating.

Now, consider that 52.4% of Miamians age 60 and over live in areas that are even less walkable than that. Indeed, nearly 40,000 older Miamians live in communities with a WalkScore of five or less. That’s a small city’s worth of people who cannot travel to any meaningful destination without a car and for whom the inability to drive would mean the inability to remain even minimally self-sufficient.

Anyone has who has lived with an aging relative can relate that perhaps the hardest part of getting old is coming to terms with the loss of independence and self-sufficiency. It’s also no secret that maintaining that independence and self-sufficiency can be the key to maintaining happiness and mental health long into old age. For the Baby Boomers in particular, for whom freedom and independence are central to the generation’s identity, addressing the mobility challenges presented by Miami’s built environment is critical. When answering surveys, Boomers may be amenable to the idea that they will relinquish all freedom of mobility to their children, but the reality will likely mirror other generations’ reluctance to forego independence.

Baby Boomers represent the largest generational cohort in the United States and they comprise twenty percent of Miami-Dade residents. Thanks to advances in health science, Boomers are expected to live longer than any other generation in human history so far, but current predictions are that they won’t necessarily be any healthier into old age than preceding generations.

Older people, for both health and financial reasons, are far less likely to be able to drive. And even if they can legally drive, we may wish to encourage another means of transportation. A study out of Carnegie Mellon and AAA found that drivers age 75 to 84 had similar driving safety records as teenagers with a year or less of driving experience. Once an individual reaches 85 years, his or her vehicular fatality rates jumps to nearly four times that of teenagers.

Now, consider how many Americans will reach those ages. According to projections by the U.S. Social Security Administration, the life expectancy of a man who turns 65 today is 83 years old; for a woman, her life expentancy is 85. And those are just the averages, so roughly half of people will live even longer. One out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past 90 years, and one in ten will see 95 years and beyond. What all this amounts to is that the number of Americans, in both raw numbers and as a percentage of the total population, who are unable to drive because of their age will likely grow over the coming decades.

Demographic tides travel slowly through history. If you look closely, you can see them coming from far and away, and if you plan accordingly, you can subvert their sometimes catastrophic legacies. We can see now with clarity that Miami, like much of America, is on the edge of a quality of life pitfall. Absent descisive, purposeful action, a greater share of Miamians will face isolation and dependence than at any other moment in our city’s history.

Whether we solve this issue by making all communities more walkable or by making walkable communities more affordable and accessible is for discussion, but what is unavoidable is the track that we’ve placed ourselves on. It’s a track to a problem that requires solutions that amount to more than developing “lifestyle communities” that define walkable as “100 feet from a Talbot’s, but 1.5 miles from a Publix.” Solutions must encourage neighborhoods where Miamians can live their lives by car if they choose, but continue to live their lives on foot when driving is no longer possible. Otherwise, be prepared to free up some time every Saturday to take Abuela to the foot doctor.

 

 

6th crash in three years at the same exact location. Brickell Avenue and 15th Road

6th crash in three years at the same exact location. Brickell Avenue and 15th Road

Here we go again… A few weeks ago there was another crash on Brickell Avenue and SW 15th Road.  This is the sixth incident in about 3 years that I have seen debris from crashes at the exact same location.  I’m not sure what FDOT and the city of Miami are waiting for, but apparently nothing will be done here until someone is killed. Sadly this will likely happen within the next three years.

Looks like the bench was launched about 50 feet.

Looks like the bench was launched about 50 feet.

The Echo Brickell project has just been announced and construction will begin soon at the very exact location where all these crashes have occurred.  This project will have 175 units with retail on the ground floor.  If the design of the road remains the same, we should expect a nasty accident with a lot of injuries once the project is completed. FDOT and the city of Miami have been put on notice. If nothing is done immediately both will have blood on their hands.

You can also send an email to FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to see if they plan to do anything to address the design speed on Brickell Avenue.  I think it is evident that we have a problem here.

 

We often hear that Miami is becoming a world-class city, but the sad truth is that Magic City is quickly becoming the country’s first gated city. What’s even worse is our elected officials are championing and using public funds to build walls and fences along the public right-of way, reducing mobility options for the general public and dividing communities in a futile attempt to reduce crime.  This type of reactive urban planning is being used by elected officials to appease their constituents, but the truth is there is no evidence that gated communities are any safer than non-gated communities.

Meanwhile, Miami has one of lowest police–to-residents ratios of any major city in the United States.  I’ve lost count, but we’ve had at least 2 or 3 police chiefs in the last four years.  The city has failed to provide enough officers to patrol the streets of Miami and now the city is scrambling to add 33 officers to the police force this year.

A few years ago, the city coughed up about $1,700,000 to build a wall for the Coral Gate community.  Here are the pictures of our elected officials celebrating their ugly tax-payer funded wall.  What’s even worse is that these pictures are posted on the city of Miami’s website as if this is something to be proud of; it’s not. Quite frankly, it is an embarrassment. A world-class city should not support gated communities, much less pay for them.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of. Especially when the city foots the bill.

About 6 months ago Commissioner Sarnoff ponied up another $50,000 for Belle Meade to build a fence. See for yourselves how ridiculous and infective this fence is:

Now Morningside residents are considering a fence around the perimeter of their neighborhood as well. No word yet if the city will pay for Morningside’s fence too.

No elected official should be proud of this piecemeal ineffective urban planning strategy.  Quite the contrary, the city should not even allow walls or fences to be built.  I’m not sure why the city’s Planning Department allows this to happen.

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Standing room only, but the 305 is not in the house. No elected officials from Miami Dade County attended this event.

Standing room only, but the 305 is not in the house. No elected officials from Miami Dade County attended this event.

Last Wednesday morning over 250 people gathered for a ULI sponsored panel discussion about development opportunities along the FEC in Ft. Lauderdale. For years the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority has been trying to bring commuter rail service along the FEC corridor from Palm Beach County to Downtown Miami. Shamefully, not a single elected official from Miami Dade County attended this event; nor did any officials from Miami Dade Transit or the Miami Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization .

I’m not sure in what bubble world our Miami Dade elected officials live in, but this is not acceptable. Events like this should be well attended by Miami politicians as well as by Miami Dade Transit and  MPO officials. It seems like our South Florida neighbors in Broward County and Palm Beach County “get it”; there was solid representation by elected officials from Broward and Palm Beach County.

It’s time for Miami to start taking a more regional approach to public transit with our neighbors in Palm Beach County and Broward County.  This “go-it-alone” strategy doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s embarrassing.

FEC Program-April 17

 

FEC Program-April 17

 

Please Register Online by:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Online at seflorida.uli.org

 

 

Here we go again with these ridiculous fences. I just received an email informing me that tomorrow night (April 2nd) @ 7pm the Morningside Civic Association will hold a meeting to discuss perimeter fencing around Morningside. The meeting is open to all and will start at 7:00pm at the offices of Morningside Park (NE 55th Terrace, east of the tennis courts).

Some of you may recall that several months ago, the City of Miami bankrolled $50,000 of public funds on a fence for Belle Meade. I really hope the city isn’t coughing up the money to build a fence for Morningside too. The Belle Meade fence was a complete embarrassment and a waste of money. Even if Morningside residents decide to finance the fence on their own dime, the County and City should not allow fences to be built, much less support this type of silly urban planning that won’t reduce crime.

I think our video about the Belle Meade fence says it all. Hopefully, most of the residents of Morningside understand that fencing will not deter crime.

 

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modal priority

 We just received some excellent news from a Transit Miami sleeper cell from deep within the FDOT machine. Apparently, going forward, FDOT will integrate a new “complete streets policy” in all future projects.  Transit Miami’s anonymous FDOT source had this to say:

“FDOT will no longer design streets that encourage speeding. We recognize that since no one else can hold us accountable, we will begin holding ourselves accountable for designing roads that have made Florida the deadliest state in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists”.

The senior FDOT official also had this to say…

“No longer will we treat pedestrians, cyclists, the disabled and parents with strollers like second-class citizens. From now on FDOT will design streets with all users in mind.  We won’t design streets for the sole purpose of moving cars as quickly as possible. FDOT’s mantra will no longer be “Level of Service”, but rather ‘Level of Safety”.

When pressed as to why FDOT has now decided to adopt a complete streets policy the senior FDOT official has this to say…

” It’s just common sense.  We should have had a complete streets policy 10 years ago. We have tasted the complete streets Kool-Aid and we understand that complete streets are good for people and for businesses.

Needless to say, we here at Transit Miami could not be happier.

 
FDOT paints a new green bike lane leading onto I195 heading west.

FDOT paints a new green bike lane leading onto 195 heading west.

If this is the FDOT’s idea of safety, looks like all cyclists are pretty much screwed in Miami. FDOT is now encouraging cyclists to ride a bicycle on 195. The design speed of 195 probably exceeds 65mph and this so called “unprotected bike lane” is also a shoulder. Seriously? FDOT will have blood on their hands soon enough. If a cyclist is struck on this highway, it is very unlikely he or she will survive.

impact-of-speed2

 

Ladies and Gentlemen- Let’s get Ready to Rumble!

It’s the fight of the century. David vs. Goliath

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Legion Park

6447 NE 7th Ave
Miami, FL 33138

I have a feeling we may see a couple of Superfly Snukas from Upper EastSide residents and businesses at this event. FDOT better come prepared.

 
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