Posts by: Gabriel Lopez-Bernal

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. It was reprinted on TransitMiami.com with expressed written consent from the Author and the Editor of Better! Cities & Towns. 

Miami Beach takes Infrastructure Beyond Gray

Claudia Kousoulas, Better! Cities & Towns

When cities invest in infrastructure, it’s often the gray stuff like roads and bridges. Or it’s hidden away like water and sewer pipes. Not to say that infrastructure isn’t interesting and vital to a city’s success, but it’s hard to get excited about.

But in Miami Beach, where everything seems to be more colorful and dramatic than most American cities, the latest round of infrastructure investments combine flamboyance and function. The city’s parking garages are featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lebron James is a fan of its bikeshare system, and the expanding network of streetscape and trail improvements weave the city together, from beach to bay.

“It is a coordinated effort,” says Richard Lorber, acting planning director. “Decobike has become a part of the city and we’ve incorporated it into our transportation thinking.” Likewise with streetscape improvements; despite initial concern about losing on-street parking spaces, residents recognize that the curb bump-outs, streetscaping, and landscaping add value to their properties.

High-style parking garages

Miami Beach has gotten the most press coverage for its public and private parking garages and in fact has set a new standard for not only garage design, but their integration with streets and city life. Architects whose names are usually attached to symphony halls and art museums are undertaking what used to be a pretty dull commission.

Zaha Hadid’s proposed parking garage with swooping overhang atop a pedestrian space typifies Miami Beach’s stylish and fun approach to infrastructure

Herzog and deMeuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road garage functions equally as a party space, a retail anchor, and parking garage. Enrique Norten’s refined Park @420 pulls Lincoln Road’s retail activity around the corner, while Arquitectonica’s Purdy Avenue garage is also a retail anchor for Sunset Harbor, an emerging mixed-use neighborhood. Frank Gehry’s public garage, sheathed in steel mesh recalling his signature chain link, is lit to drift through a color palette that mirrors Miami sunsets. Zaha Hadid is proposing a structure that will swoop over a street and create a pedestrian plaza.

The trend toward high style garages began in 1995 with Arquitectonica’s Ballet Valet garage. The client, developer Tony Goldman who would go on to develop the Wynwood Arts District, spotted an opportunity on this neglected stretch of Collins Avenue. One block in from the beach and surrounded by clubs and hotels, the garage’s retail base kick-started redevelopment. Popularly known as the Chia Pet garage, Arquitectonica’s screen of plants became a local landmark.

Ballet Valet garage, designed by Arquitectonica

Unlike the usual approach to garage design, which seeks to hide parking behind a liner building or false front, newer garages celebrate their position in our lives and communities. Most use texture, color, and pattern to create visual elegance. Herzog and De Meuron’s garage uses the drama of space and movement. Views shift and drop; every floor creates a different experience. From the outside, the blade-edged concrete slabs hover over dramatic skies and palm trees. Hadid’s proposed design is a modernist approach to the experience of moving through space.

Roger Howie of Hadid’s office says, “A simple premise of how to bring the street into the building guided our initial studies which then progressed into an expressed, continuous vehicular circulation path which provides a unique, even fun, experience for the user.”

But the designs also mediate between the car and the pedestrian. From an urban point of view, their relationship to the street is most important. Some, like Park@420, rely on a simple retail base, others like 1111 draw pedestrians in to experience the space. As well as retail, Hadid’s design includes an urban plaza and features stairs to create a gateway along the Collins Park axis. This sounds more like urban design than transportation engineering.

As well as experiments with screen and structure, the function of these garages is part of their design and economics. They are not places you would park and leave. You could spend the whole evening at 1111—from a sunset drink at the rooftop restaurant, on to dinner, then shopping and people watching in the plaza. Likewise, Arquitectonica’s Purdy Avenue seeks to combine design and function to transcend typical parking garage. “The idea was to create a hub of activity for residents and locals, a place to eat, exercise, and shop—with parking,” says Wendy Chernin of the Scott Robins Companies who worked with the city in a public-private partnership to build the project.

The varying floor heights, almost invisible steel cable fencing, and concrete slabs of 1111 Lincoln Road upend the notion of the parking garage as something to be hidden.

Decobike Cruises In

Miami Beach has added 2,741 new spaces with these garages, but the city’s approach is also multi-modal. Decobike has been operating in the city since 2011. In 2012 it expanded north to the Town of Surfside and is poised to cross the Biscayne Bay causeways into the City of Miami. On the beach, Decobike has achieved the best bike-to-resident ratio in North America, with the highest station distribution per square mile nationally. Each of the 1,000 bikes is used four to five times a day, one of the highest use rates in the country.

Decobike founders Colby Reese and Bonifacio Diaz first experienced bikeshare in Paris and Barcelona.
“We were amazed by the amount of usage on the systems. From there, it became a “green business concept that we fell in love with,” said Reese.

When the City of Miami Beach issued a request for proposals, Decobike responded with proposed locations based on their business model and use estimates. Lorber says that the city worked with them to approve the proposed locations or find appropriate alternatives.  He points out that the system was initially approved without advertising on the bikes or docks, but Decobike has since requested to place ads.

“We’re not thrilled with the ads, but worked with them again to find appropriate locations,” says Lorber. “Decobike is so well loved and so important, we want them to have a healthy financial viability.”

There were initial reservations about use. Why would anyone use this service if they already owned a bicycle? But as Reese points out, with bikeshare there are no worries about theft or maintenance. And a well-distributed and stocked bike dock network makes Decobike convenient. Reese notes that once the docks were installed, they also adjusted rental and membership options to meet the demands of residents and visitors.

There was also some concern about turning over on-street parking spaces to bike docks, but the popularity of the system and a slew of new parking garages calmed those concerns. As Reese notes, using a parking space for 20 bikes that turn over four to five times a day is a more efficient use of public space.

Reese and Diaz recount these sensible planner answers, but neglect to mention just how much fun Decobike can be. Miami Beach is a flat city, with great weather and ocean views. A grid street pattern provides plenty of routes for commuting or sightseeing.

And just as the parking garages are a system designed to provide access, so is Decobike. Its expansion north into Surfside was the next step in expanding farther north to Haulover Park and west into the Town of Bay Harbor Islands. Duncan Tavares, planner for the Town of Surfside, says residents and businesses supported bikeshare from the start, and after smoothing some concerns about liability and location, so did elected officials.

Expanding Streetscape and Trails

Even within its street grid, the city is upgrading its network of trails and street paths for efficiency, safety, and pleasure. The city’s 2007 Atlantic Greenway Network Plan strived to establish routes that make local and regional bicycle and walking connections. Now that the State of Florida no longer allows wooden structures on the beach, each redevelopment or capital improvement completes another link. The overall effort re-engineers walking and cycling into car-oriented streets and public spaces.

The Atlantic Greenway Network path runs north-south along the beach as a poured concrete path with a trademark wave pattern paving, providing recreation and transportation connections.

While the Atlantic Greenway Network Plan makes beach to bay connections and runs along the beachfront, the City also considers neighborhood function and aesthetics in its streetscape improvements. The South Pointe Master Plan identifies 13 neighborhoods for a planned progress program of streetscape improvements. The plan works from eight typologies that include curb bump-outs, tree grates, lighting, shade trees, and what everyone wants to see when they come to Miami—palm trees.

As the city works its way through each neighborhood, citizens help develop a “basis of design” report that identifies designs and applications unique to each neighborhood. The resulting improvements, says Lorber, encourage people to walk by creating safe and comfortable streets for pedestrians and by corralling cars, but also include stormwater and drainage improvements.

The blocks south of Fifth Street now include a mix of housing, from single-family to high-rise, fronting walkable streets made pedestrian-friendly with landscaping, paving, curb bumpouts, and crosswalks.

While many of these designs take on a particular tropical style, they are also lessons for other communities. Garages that become landmarks and destinations, a continuing commitment to transportation alternatives and trail connections, and streetscape that adds value on every corner don’t need palm trees to be successful.

Claudia Kousoulas is a freelance writer and an urban planner with the Montgomery County Maryland Planning Department, where she blogs on The Straight Line.

 

For those of you attending tomorrow’s Miami Heat Parade, MDT, SFRTA, BCT, and Transit Miami all strongly suggest that attendees take the train! MDT will be upping Metrorail service to a 5 minute frequency (we wish that were permanent)  south of the Earlington Heights station and will be running extra vehicles on the MetroMover between 8AM and 2PM.  Alternatively, you could be like our own hometown heroes and Bike to/from the parade route…

From MDT:

To accommodate the large crowds expected to attend the Miami Heat victory parade on Monday, June 24, 2013, Miami-Dade Transit will be enhancing its Metrorail and Metromover service, and making it easier for patrons to pay their Metrorail fare by providing ‘express pay’ lanes at Metrorail stations.

Due to road closures in the downtown Miami and Brickell areas, several Metrobus routes will be detoured, including routes 3, 6, 8, 11, 24, 48, 77, 207, 208, C and S.

From SFRTA

Tri-Rail will be operating 4-car trains in the morning and on the return from the parade to increase train capacity.  Tri-Rail will operate an additional southbound train in the morning, which will leave the Fort Lauderdale Station at approximately 10:15 a.m. Passengers are encouraged to take southbound trains P611 or P613 to ensure arrival prior to the start of the parade.

From BCT:

The 595 Express Miami/Brickell bus departs at 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. from the BB&T Center in Sunrise and travels to Brickell Plaza along the parade route. The first return trip on the 595 Express bus back to the BB&T Center departs from the Brickell Metrorail Station at 3:05 p.m. with service every 30 minutes up until 6:45 p.m.

 

Transit Miami is honored to have been named the best blog in Miami for 2013 by the Miami New Times. We’re privileged to be recognized by our peers and the community as a leading voice on urban development and transportation issues in South Florida. This distinction provides us with a natural opportunity to reflect upon how far this site has progressed since its inception in 2006:

Initially conceived as an outlet to incite and encourage discussion concerning the challenging problems facing South Florida, Transit Miami has evolved into a loosely knit organization of individuals who strongly advocate for a balanced transportation system. Today, our vision includes one where all members of our community will have the opportunity to choose the mode of transportation that is optimal for their needs, lifestyle, or preferences. To achieve this vision we’ve taken it upon ourselves to expose the potential for intelligent growth in a community that has been consumed by urban sprawl; a community where imprudent development around key transit nodes has evolved into an unfortunate standard; and a community where congestion persistently erodes the quality of life. To us, the status quo is no longer acceptable; we know Miami can do better. As practicing transportation engineers, urban planners, and real estate advisors, we hope that our opinions serve as a starting point for discussion and present alternative views based on our professional experiences.

I wish to extend my gratitude to Transit Miami’s dedicated editors and contributors (both past and present) who volunteer their time in the interest of enhancing the mobility of our community. I have never met a more passionate and talented group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal: to foster a livable, accessible, and sustainable Miami for generations to come.

In addition to the support we receive locally, we’re also grateful for the recognition we receive from our partners across the nation, particularly our friends at the Streetsblog Network. Our national partners are also working tirelessly to transform our cities by reducing dependence on private automobiles and advocating for improved conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders.

Above all, we are grateful for our readers who so often provide us with meaningful and insightful discussions on what most would consider rather pedestrian topics. We pledge to continue our advocacy and to continue to hold our elected officials accountable.

-Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal
Founder & Editor-in-Chief, TransitMiami.com

 

Our friends at All Aboard Florida (AAF) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announce a series of Public Scoping Meetings/Open Houses concerning the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of constructing and operating an intercity passenger rail service linking Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. The same content will presented at each meeting.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel – Milan Ballroom
5445 Forbes Place
Orlando, FL 32812

Monday, May 6, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Culmer Center – Multipurpose Room
1600 NW 3rd Ave.
Miami, FL 33136

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Gaines Park Community Center – Addie Greene Hall East
1505 N. Australian Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Thursday, May 9, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Havert L. Fenn Center – Room 5
2000 Virginia Ave.
Fort Pierce, FL 34982

AAF - Public Scoping Meeting notification

 

The Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is hosting the following workshops to solicit public feedback on the future of transportation in Broward County. For more information on Commitment 2040 watch this video. You can also submit feedback online by following this link to a survey.
Broward MPO Commitment 2040 LRTP Update Workshops

 

Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?

Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:

“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”

So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.

I-395_Miami_Bridge4

I-395_Miami_Bridge3

I-395_Miami_Bridge2

I-395_Miami_Bridge

For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.

Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown. 

In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.

The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.

Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:

  • San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
  • Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
  • Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct

While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.

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The verdict is in, Michele Traverso will serve ONLY 364 days in jail followed by two years of house arrest for the death of Aaron Cohen last year on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Stay tuned for more information.

Follow #AaronCohen for a recap of today’s 6 hour deliberations.

 

Art Basel by bicycle.

The art world has descended upon Miami this week.  Last year, 50,000 people attended Miami’s Art Basel event, a four-day contomperary arts fair showcasing Miami’s growing cultural scene.  Not surprisingly, this wonderful event, which makes Miami buzz, is held in the most walkable neighborhoods in  Florida: South BeachWynwood, the Design District, and Midtown.  With the exception of buses, there is no public transit connecting these neighborhoods (there isn’t a no-transfer option connecting Wynwood/Midtown with SoBe). So the vast majority of those attending Art Basel must drive to the various exhibits.  The effects of Miami-Dade County’s unwillingness to take public transit serious once again rears it’s ugly head.  Traffic comes to a standstill.

The Trolley-bus is a temporary solution cobbled together by good intentions from the City of Miami and the DDA. But the truth is, providing meaningful, reliable transportation to these neighborhoods shouldn’t be a local affair, Miami Dade Transit, our regional transit provider should be equipped to handle such a meaningful event. Moreover, the regular service in the area shouldn’t be such an abomination to begin with!

The lack of connectivity and the traffic woes between, Wynwood, the Design District, and Midtown have not gone unnoticed by the cycling community. This year the Green Mobility Network is setting up of a free bicycle valet service at O Cinema.  With demand for safe, secure bike parking outstripping supply, the Green Mobility Network has found an opportunity to provide a much needed service.  Hopefully, this will encourage more people to ride to Art Basel if there is a secure place to park their bicycle.

ARTcycle is an art event created to raise awareness for riders and drivers by promoting wellness and safer streets through an active lifestyle and the arts. ARTcycle’s first event will work with renowned sponsored artists who will use 15 bicycless as their canvas. Bikes will then be auctioned to raise funds and support Green Mobility Network’s Safe Streets Miami program. Both initiatives are co-sponsored by StreetEasy.

DecoBike has also gotten into the mix and they have put up temporary bike stations in Wynwood, Midtown, and the Design District. The distance between Midtown and Wywood is too far to walk for many people, but comfortable enough to bike to. Deco Bike clearly understands that there is a demand for short-haul transit during Art Basel in this neighborhood and are capitalizing on Miami Dade Transit’s inability to provide quality public transit in the this booming neighborhood. Decobike also has a partnership with Heineken.  You can find out more about the Heineken Mural Project at themiamibikescene.com

A temporary DecoBike station in Wynwood in front of Wood Tavern.

Regardless of all the efforts by these various modal groups; Midtown, Design District, and Miami Beach are ripe for longer-term, meaningful transportation. The elephant in the paragraphs above, Miami-Dade Transit, is visibly absent and seemingly ill-equipped to address the needs of these burgeoning neighborhoods (Note: the eerie silence of MDT’s news feed; you can’t tell us the most recent transit update is a 3x weekly service from 8-5 in Cutler Bay, a local service not unlike Miami’s Trolley, mind you). What Art Basel long ago realized and what Miami fails to see for 51 weeks of the year, is that the “sexiness” of these neighborhoods is derived from the urban settings and spaces which comprise them.

For more information about ArtCycle and events related to biking during Art Basel please see below:

ARTcycle art bikes will be exhibited during Art Basel days, December 7-9, 2012 in 11 locations throughout Wynwood. Visitors may see all the art bikes any day, all day long or they may enjoy a bicycle ARTcycle bike tour sponsored by and departing from Fountain Art Fair – 2505 N. Miami Ave December 7th, 8th, and 9th at noon.

ARTcycle Exhibiting Artists + locations:

Johanna Boccardo + Erwin Georgi at Wood Tavern
Mariano Costa-Peuser at Cafeina | Wynwood Exhibition Center
Giselle Delgado Buraye at Kayu | Respondé
Elio Diaz Jr. (Elito) at Wood Tavern sponsored by Mack Cycle
Katy Stalfus at Fountain
Astolfo Funes at Elemental
Katiuska Gonzalez at Fountain
Lucinda Linderman at Miami’s Independent Thinkers | Armory
Nancy Martini at Gab Studios sponsored by All4Cycling
Janet Mueller at 004 Connec | Graffe Cafe
Maximiliano Pecce at Cafeina | Wynwood Exhibition Center
Sri Prabha at Giraffas Brazilian Steaks & Burgers
Gioconda Rojas at O Cinema
Aida Tejada at O Cinema

EVENTS:

Thursday, December 6th: Happy Hour at Wood Tavern 5-9pm

Art Bike: Elio Diaz Jr. (Elito),  sponsored by Mack Cycle
Art Bike: Johanna Boccardo + Erwin Georgi

Friday, December 7th: ARTcycle Bike Tour 12 noon

Visit all the 15 Art Bikes
Register at Fountain Art Fair Green Lounge
Bike Support by ALL4Cycling, Miami Pace and 305 Green
Refreshments and snacks by ZICO and Kind Bars

Saturday, December 8th: Tour de Wynwood (Bike Basel) 11am
Graffiti bicycle tour with Street.Art.Cycle and The Miami Bike Scene
Visit new murals and installations around Wynwood and hear brief descriptions about some of the artists and their pieces. http://www.themiamibikescene.com/2012/12/tour-de-wynwood-art-basel.html

Saturday, December 8th: ARTcycle Bike Tour 12 noon

Visit all the 15 Art Bikes + Wynwood walls
Register at Fountain Art Fair Green Lounge
Bike Support by ALL4Cycling, Miami Pace and 305 Green
Refreshments and snacks by ZICO and Kind Bars

Sunday, December 9th: ARTcycle Bike Tour 12 noon

Visit all the 15 Art Bikes
Register at Fountain Art Fair Green Lounge
Bike Support by ALL4Cycling, Miami Pace and 305 Green
Refreshments and snacks by ZICO and Kind Bars

December 7th, 8th & 9th: Bicycle Valet parking by Green Mobility Network

at O Cinema 9am-6pm
90 Northwest 29th Street
leave your bike & enjoy the art scene!

 

- Via Autoblog

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Open Bridge

Open Bridge – Via GoboNdc’s Flickr

Around Miami:

  • Once and Future Metropolis. Our own Craig Chester takes cues from Miami’s past to discuss where success will lay in our future. It’s sad to know that Miami once boasted 11 trolley lines that crisscrossed the county from Miami Beach to the City of Miami and even out the then-suburb of Coral Gables. (Biscayne Times)
  • $2.8 billion transportation upgrade rolling (Miami Today)
  • Boca Raton politicians leading on transportation policy. The Sun Sentinel sits down with Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams and Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie to discuss their roles in reshaping local transportation infrastructure. (Sun Sentinel) Note: Commissioner Abrams was was elected Chair of the SFRTA at the July 27 meeting of the Governing Board. At the same meeting, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro was elected Vice Chair. (SFRTA)
  • Two new Rubber-Tired Trolley announcements in one week! South Florida’s Trolley Fever is raging. First:  Sweetwater to get new trolleys (Miami Herald) Then: Trolley cars may replace shuttle buses in Delray Beach (Orlando Sentinel)
  • $45 million PortMiami tunnel dig payment threatens Miami’s finances. Come January, the city is facing a $45M payment on a short-term loan that helped fund the PortMiami tunnel dig. (Miami Herald)
  • Parks Vie For Space In Miami’s Forest Of Condos. In Miami, neighborhood parks can be hard to find. The Trust for Public Land ranks Miami 94 on a list of 100 cities when it comes to park acreage per 1,000 residents — just 2.8 acres per 1,000 residents. (NPR)
  • Get on the Bus. The tale of one correspondent’s journey aboard public transit in Aventura. Despite the density and height of the condos in Aventura; it remains a driving city. (Biscayne Times)
  • Cities With The Worst Drivers 2012. No surprises here, Hialeah is ranked 4th while Miami is 9th. (Forbes) It’s no wonder that recent editorials call for enhanced driver education programs in South Florida. (Miami Herald)
  • Affordable housing developer: South Miami’s inflexibility violates federal law. The City of South Miami is facing a Federal Lawsuit from a developer seeking to build affordable housing adjacent to the metrorail station. As we noted on our Facebook page, this is precisely what is wrong with many of the communities that border Metrorail and the South-Dade Busway. Adjacent to existing rapid transit infrastructure is exactly where we should be building denser and reducing parking minimums. Instead, insular city politics allow South Miami, Florida commissioners to deny construction permits for an affordable housing development due to insufficient parking (the city was requesting a 2:1 Space to Unit Ratio!). (Miami Herald)
  • Back to School! Did you know that MDT offers discounts for students? The K-12 Discount Fare EASY Card and the College Pass are affordable options available to our local students.

Around the Sphere:

  • Smackdown-County vs. City: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble Over Gated Communities! (Miami Urbanist)
  • With Metrorail Open, Checking In On Miami Central Station. CurbedMiami drops in to check-up on the progress on the Miami Central Station. (CurbedMiami)
  • Miami Trolley. Alesh gets critical on the Miami Trolley. He’s got a point, the SFRTA’s Strategic Regional Transit Plan don’t mention Trolleys. (Critical Miami)
  • Miami Needs Less Planning, More Doing. (UEL Blog)
  • OP-ED: Miami-Dade Commissioner’s Resolution is Bad of Bicycling. (BeachedMiami)
  • Green Mobility Network has launched their new website – check it out! (Green Mobility Network)
  • Use of awnings for your historic house. (Miamism)

Elsewhere:

  • Cutting dependence on cars isn’t anti-car, it’s common sense. “As a matter of fact, not everyone can drive; and as a matter of principle, we want people to have other options.” Amen. (GreaterGreaterWashington)
  • Dynamic Pricing Parking Meters Climb Above $5/Hour in SF (TransportationNation)
  • Tennessee DOT Moves Past Road-Widening as a Congestion Reduction Strategy (Streetsblog DC)
  • They Totally Went There: GOP Outlines Extremist Transpo Views in Platform (Streetsblog DC)
  • Boston case shows declining car volume on major street. (Stop and Move)
  • Are Our Transit Maps Tricking Us? (Atlantic Cities)

Stay connected with Transit Miami! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter  for up to the minute Transit news and discussions. Got a tip, story, or contribution? Email us: MoveMiami@gmail.com

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We received some good news from County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa a few minutes ago in response to our email this weekend:

I would like to thank the cycling community for expressing their opinions and concerns about this item that is of importance to all the residents of Miami-Dade, as many of us rely or know of someone who relies on bicycles as a means of transport and/or recreation. My intent in sponsoring this resolution was not to prevent bike lanes from being created. On the contrary, I support and embrace establishing bike lanes Countywide. I acted out of concern for the safety of cyclists, particularly on SW 57 AVE from SW 8 ST to SW 24 ST, where customers of businesses along this stretch of road back their cars directly onto SW 57 AVE. I am concerned that this would create an unsafe environment for cyclists. Additionally, I sought greater cooperation between FDOT, Miami-Dade County, and Municipalities to make sure we create an atmosphere where bike lanes continue to be encouraged while ensuring safety.

In light of your concerns, I am requesting this item be temporarily deferred to ensure nothing in this item will negatively impact the cycling community. Your opinions are always welcome.

Commissioner Rebeca Sosa
Miami-Dade County, District 6

Transit Miami would like to thank Commissioner Sosa for pulling the item from the agenda. We look forward to working with her office to work through some of the issues we raised with regards to item #121569  while fostering a healthy redevelopment of 57th Avenue that both enhances the mobility of all roadway users and supports the needs of local businesses. While we do agree that greater cooperation is needed between FDOT, Miami-Dade County, and the local municipalities, we believe that this discussion should take place in a public manner and in a fashion that affords the communities greater say over FDOT roadway projects.

From our friends over at Green Mobility Network:

Action Alert

Sept. 4 Resolution is Bad for Bicycling—Please Act Now!

Dear friends of bicycling,

We realize it’s the Labor Day Weekend and most of you are relaxing, but your immediate action is needed.

The Miami–Dade County Commission is being asked on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to help erode a progressive state law that requires accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians on state roads in urban areas. There will be no opportunity for public comment during the commission meeting, so we’re asking Commissioner Rebeca Sosa to withdraw her resolution or postpone it until we can meet with her.

The law, section 335.065 of the Florida Statutes, provides that bike lanes and sidewalks be given full consideration in the planning and development of state roads in urban areas. When the state Department of Transportation (FDOT) repaves or redesigns an urban street, it must provide for walkers and bicyclists as well as for drivers — or show why cost or safety makes doing so impractical.

The law was virtually ignored in South Florida for most of a generation, and now that advocates have succeeded in getting FDOT to follow the law it’s meeting resistance — first in Miami Beach and now in the Sept. 4 resolution Commissioner Sosa, representing District 6. She’s responding to the upcoming repaving of SW 57th Avenue between 8th Street and Bird Road, where state engineers plan to include a bike lane and are encountering constrained road dimensions in some areas.

FDOT can choose from a variety of bike facilities on roads like 57th Avenue. This resolution will only hurt the cause of making Miami-Dade’s streets safer for all users. We strongly urge Commissioner Sosa to pull this item from the agenda and work collaboratively with the bicycle community to advance better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure throughout Miami-Dade County.

Please copy the following message and send it to the e-mail addresses below. Do it now! It’s not too late to stop this ill-advised resolution.

If you would prefer to register your concern by phone, please make two phone calls to request that the resolution be pulled from the agenda. You can call the following:

Mayor Carlos Gimenez: 305-375-5071
Commissioner Rebecca Sosa: 305-375-5696

BEGIN COPY-AND-PASTE–AND ADD YOUR NAME AT THE END OF THE MESSAGE

Re: Sept. 4, 2012, Agenda Item #121569–Bad for Bicycling–Please Pull From Agenda

To the Board of County Commissioners:

Agenda Item #121569 is bad for bicycling in Miami-Dade County and potentially the entire state of Florida. It would turn back the clock on significant progress in winning accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians in urban roadways. It was placed on your agenda without public input. I urge you to pull it from the agenda and make time for public discussion of this important matter.
END COPY-AND-PASTE

SEND TO THE INDIVIDUAL COMMISSIONERS–JUST COPY AND PASTE THE FOLLOWING E-MAIL ADDRESSES INTO THE “TO” LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL SOFTWARE.

mayor@miamidade.gov, officeofthechair@miamidade.gov, bjordan@miamidade.gov, district2@miamidade.gov, district3@miamidade.gov, district4@miamidade.gov, district5@miamidade.gov, district6@miamidade.gov, District7@miamidade.gov, District8@miamidade.gov, DennisMoss@miamidade.gov, district10@miamidade.gov, district11@miamidade.gov, District12@miamidade.gov, district13@miamidade.gov

Once you’ve written, how about letting us know at our Facebook page? Your example will be encouraging to others.

Coral Gables Advertisement - The Miami News - Aug 23, 1925

Coral Gables Advertisement – The Miami News – Aug 23, 1925

87 years ago today, an advertisement ran in the Miami Daily News promoting the sale of property in the Biltmore and Country Club VI Sections of Coral Gables. This ad offers a unique view of Miami’s first planned community, Coral Gables, designed by George Merrick during the 1920′s land boom. Coral Gables was developed entirely upon the City Beautiful movement, featuring grand civic spaces, public monuments, and prominent architectural symbols such as the Biltmore Hotel.

While at the time of publishing the Coral Gables Trolley line already linked the suburb with Downtown Miami via Flagler Street, Merrick had grander transit visions:

“These two fine sections will be linked inseperably with the center of Miami, and with the Riviera Section of Coral Gables, by the proposed Coral Gables Rapid Transit Electric Line which will run through the center of both sections.”

The Rapid Transit Electric Line was eventually built, and offered a faster route, along Coral Way, into Central Miami. Perhaps what is most interesting about this advertisement is to read Merrick’s vision for Biltmore Way:

“The outstanding feature of the Biltmore Section is Biltmore Way – an impressive 100 foot Boulevard leading off from Coral Way, at its Northeast corner and running into DeSoto Boulevard, the main drive to the Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club on the West.”

“Biltmore Way from Coral Way to Segovia Street is traversed by the rapid transit rail line. It is one-half mile in length and is planned as the Fifth Avenue Business Street of Coral Gables.”

“Biltmore Way is planned as the shopping center for the discriminating women buyer or Coral Gables and Greater Miami. No stores in the Metropolitan district of Miami will excel in beauty or display the stores to be established on this boulevard. …such a thoroughfare could well be a composite reproduction of Fifth  Avenue of New York, Michigan Avenue of Chicago, Rue de la Paix of Paris, and Old Bond Street of London.”

Merrick’s Vision is brimming with optimism. Influenced by grand boulevards across the world. Its no wonder that property in Coral Gables today remains one of the more sought after in the region. While Biltmore Way never achieved its full potential, he laid the foundation for a community that could grow and adapt to future growth, which is more than can be said for the current development ailing our urban fringes.

Biltmore Way, Coral Gables

Biltmore Way, Coral Gables

 

 

Panorama of new red pedestrian bridge, Coral Gables Waterway, Miami, Florida

Panorama of new red pedestrian bridge, Coral Gables Waterway, Miami, Florida (Via: ImageMD)

Around Miami:

  • Opposition building to South Dade expressway. Our question is, can it build soon enough? (Miami Herald)
  • Signs to alert Broward drivers to conditions, travel times on six major roads. $9M to know the existing conditions seems steep considering the advent of crowdsourced alternatives such as Waze or Roadify. To us, the notion that more information to drivers provides the “opportunity to choose alternate routes instead of finding yourself stuck in traffic jams” is downright delusional. (Sun-Sentinel)
  • Miami Beach Mayor Bower comments on sea level rise. It’s easy to talk the talk but Miami Beach has a nasty history of anti-climate change planning under its belt. We think Baylink, enhanced cycling facilities, and reduced parking minimums would go a long way in showing that Miami Beach is ready to do it’s part in this global system. (South Florida Business Journal)
  • Failed street design. Our own Craig Chester puts the FDOT on notice regarding the failures of Biscayne Boulevard. (Miami Herald)
  • South Florida transit schedules added to Google Maps. Welcome to the 21st Century South Florida Transit – perhaps real-time transit data isn’t an illusion after all. (South Florida Business Journal)
  • Metrorail extension eases commute from airport. (The Miami Hurricane)

Around the Sphere:

  • Miami Dade Transit hard at work. Miami-Dade Transit has made some laudable improvements around Douglas Road. (South Florida Bike Coalition)
  • TRI-Rail From FLL Makes for a Long Morning. Matt Meltzer’s harrowing 3 hour journey from FLL to MIA via public transit. Bottom line: “…in Miami, and especially in Ft. Lauderdale, if you don’t have a car public transport is just not an option.” Ouch. We can do better South Florida. (Miami Beach 411)
  • Inside Al Capone’s Fabulous Palm Island Estate, On Video! (Curbed Miami)
  • Miami Metrorail | New Vehicle Replacement. This seems to be flying under the radar a bit, though ExMiami reports that the vendor (AnsaldoBreda) has a bit of a problem history with clients in meeting delivery and vehicle specs. This should be interesting. (ExMiami)
  • An SFDB Call To South Florida Bloggers. SFDB is looking for editors. (SFDB)

Elsewhere:

  • Bloomberg: NYC Bike Share Delayed Until Spring. The much awaited phase 1 launch of NYC’s Bike share program which is set to include 7,000 bikes at 420 stations has be delayed until March 2013 due to software issues. (Transportation Nation)
  • Times Poll Confirms: 66 Percent of New Yorkers Like Bike Lanes. Bikes as transportation: Good Policy. Good for cities. Good for your health. Good for local business. Now, good for NYC. (Streetsblog NYC)
  • A Separated Bike Lane Commute. We can attest, Separated Bike Lanes are AWESOME. (LGRAB)
  • Remaking Union Station: Do we have what it takes? With Public Transit use and Amtrak use on the rise in DC, calls to expand capacity at Union Station are growing. (Greater Greater Washington)
  • There’s a Lot Riding on U.S. DOT’s Definition of “Congestion” (Streetsblog DC)
  • OpenPlans aiming for Kickstarter-funded transit app. With Apple’s iO6 eliminating Google Maps from i-devices, Open Plans begins a campaign to develop a crowd-funded transit app. (Second Avenue Sagas)

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