Posts by: Matthew Toro

Join History Miami’s Artist-in-Residence, Serge Toussaint, for this special tour of Little Haiti. Visit his murals and sign art, and learn about the rich cultural life of this vibrant neighborhood.

Saturday, January 26 — 1:00pm

Little Haiti Cultural Center Courtyard

212 NE 59th Terrace

FREE TO THE PUBLIC

HistoryMiami_LittleHaiti_WalkingTour

Born in Haiti, painter Serge Toussaint is a Miami-based muralist and sign artist. His creations can be found in several parts of Miami-Dade County, including Little Haiti, a neighborhood that boasts a long-standing street art tradition. Serge’s murals include portraits of prominent figures such as President Barack Obama and Miami Heat basketball players, and his painted signs grace the exteriors of numerous local businesses.

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Why We Need Green Spaces

Friday, January 11, 1:30 PM 

Don Rakow, Director of Cornell University Plantations

Green Cay Nature Center

12800 Hagen Ranch Road, Boynton Beach.

Why We Need Green Spaces

Tours of the wetlands will follow the presentation.

 

As has been reported in multiple local news sources, including The Miami Herald and Huffington Post, travel lanes on the Bear Cut Bridge are being closed.

The Bear Cut Bridge connects the island Village of Key Biscayne to the Miami mainland via the Rickenbacker Causeway.

A graphic of the Bear Cut Bridge by Miami Herald staff artist Marco Ruiz. Source: Miami Herald

A graphic of the Bear Cut Bridge by Miami Herald staff artist Marco Ruiz. Source: Miami Herald

The following public message just came to TransitMiami from Jimmy Martincak, the Road & Bridge Maintenance Superintendent for Miami-Dade County’s Department of Public Works & Waste Management:

Good Afternoon,

Emergency lane restrictions have been implemented on the Bear Cut Bridge along the Rickenbacker Causeway. The Public Works and Waste Management Department is routing vehicular traffic in a counter flow manner on two lanes of the current eastbound portion of the bridge (toward Key Biscayne).

One lane will be used for eastbound vehicular traffic and the other will be used for westbound vehicular traffic (leaving Key Biscayne). This will reduce traffic flow to one vehicular lane in each direction over the Bear Cut Bridge.

Eastbound bicyclists in the bike lane are being directed onto the off road path. Westbound bicyclists in the westbound bike lane are unaffected [emphasis added].

Should you have any questions or concerns, kindly contact our office.

Thank You, Jimmy

James Martincak, Road & Bridge Maintenance Superintendent

Miami-Dade County - Public Works And Waste Management

4299 Rickenbacker Causeway,  Key Biscayne,  Florida  - 33149

305-361-2833 Phone  305-361-5338 Fax   305-979-3470 Cellular

Be sure to contact Mr. Martincak with your thoughts on the matter.

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While many paid money to be stuck in motor traffic in smelly, vomit-ridden taxis, this handsome chap chose to cruise to his New Year’s celebration with the fresh ocean breeze blowing in his perfectly groomed hair.

He chose to travel the smart way: by riding a bicycle . . . all while oozing style, no less.

The spiffiest man in the city on New Years? . . . absolutely.

We know nothing more about him . . . All we know is that he was the classiest New Year’s reveler on Miami Beach . . .

Ride on, my friend . . . ride on . . .

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Will 2012 be regarded as the year Critical Mass penetrated Miami’s mainstream culture?

Miami Critical Mass December 2012 — riders convene at Government Center transit station.

There’s no denying it, ladies and gentlemen: The monthly assemblage of what is now consistently 1000-2000 cyclists for Miami’s Critical Mass has hit, or is at least beginning to hit, the mainstream.

Yes, of course, we have the brouhaha generated by certain celebrity athletes’ participation at recent rides. If you’ve missed it, here’s just one tiny sample of the coverage of recent Critical Mass appearances by the likes of basketball idols Dwayne Wade and Lebron James.

As with all cities, but with Miami in particular, the presence of high-profile figures makes things buzz just a bit more loudly and brightly. Their presence has undeniably elevated the event’s public profile in a positive way. Thank you, basketball superheros!

As a quick aside, though, in the opinion of this humble author, if we wish to see these guys at future rides — which would be great for the Miami biking community — we should probably not hound them with fanatical human-worshiping behavior. Let them embrace the ride in its raw, unadulterated-by-celebrity-fixation glory like any other Miamian.

Twenty-twelve was critical for Critical Mass in ways that go beyond the mere presence of famous athletes, though. Most importantly, the past year saw a virtually exponential increase in ridership.

Last week’s route took riders through downtown Coral Gables’ main thoroughfare: historic Miracle Mile, where classy (and want-to-be classy) Gables’ folk were elated to encounter the reclamation of the streets by 1000-1500 cyclists.

I don’t have any solid data (does anyone?), but there’s a distinct impression that the number of riders averaged around 500 in 2011 while averaging around 1000 in 2012 (plus or minus a few hundred, depending on the month, weather, and maybe even the alignment of the planets — who knows!?)

What’s important to understand, though, is that Critical Mass reached a certain threshold in 2012. Throughout the course of the past year, word has spread farther and wider than ever before on the wonders and excitement of this cherished celebration of cycling and community.

It’s penetrated beyond the sub-cultural circles of fixie-riding hipsters; latex-wearing roadies; cruiser-riding beach bums; blinged-out, low-riding gangsters; your grandma and grandpa; and all other bicycle geek squads of various sorts (including nerdy blog writers).

Indeed, it’s now even reached the radars of Miami’s basketball legends-in-the-making.

Miami Basket-Ballers (left to right): LeBron James, Mario Chalmers, Dwayne Wade. Even Miami’s athlete elite enjoy Miami’s Critical Mass.
Photo Credit: Craig Chester. Source: StreetsBlog.org

The point, however, is that Critical Mass brought D-Wade and King James; they didn’t bring Critical Mass.

Dare I also go so far as to posit that in 2012 Critical Mass even served diplomatic purposes by further consolidating bilateral relations between the United States and at least one of its European allies?

We all remember the epic April 2012 Go Dutch! Orange Bike-In Festival!, celebrating Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) and sponsored by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

The April 2012 Go Dutch! Orange Bike-In Festival was definitely a highlight of the past year. It also certainly added a heightened degree of validity and credibility to the growing stature of Miami Critical Mass as a trans-cultural community event. Hell, it was partially sponsored by Queen Beatrix and Dutch tax-payers. It doesn’t get more legit than that!

As with all Miami Critical Mass rides, this righteous event was unofficially organized by the The Miami Bike Scene (at least to the extent that such an inherently organic and self-regulating event can even be ‘organized’ at all).

There are also other qualities marking the Critical Mass rides of 2012 from all previous years. In the preceding years, and even in early 2012, Critical Massers would convene directly beneath the Metrorail and Metromover tracks at the Government Center transit station, where the administrative offices of Miami-Dade County are located.

Now, however, the rendezvous point has reached, well, a critical mass. We now regularly occupy not only the ground floor of Government Center station, but also nearly all of NW 1st Street from NW 1st to 2nd Avenues, with pockets of riders filling other adjacent areas as well. The meeting spot has now become the meeting block.

Critical Mass riders no longer fit in the limited public space beneath Government Center . . . we’ve taken over nearly the entire street block.

The city’s public safety crews are now much more sympathetic and cooperative with the event too. I personally remember my earliest masses when I would hear rumors floating through the crowds that cops were vigilantly ‘giving citations’ and that riders needed to ‘watch out for cops’.

Such hearsay, whether legitimate or not, cast a sort of perceived antagonism between cops and mass cyclists. These days, though, I don’t hear any of that nonsense, and I’m glad for it too! In fact, the only interaction I witnessed between the cyclists and cops at this past weekend’s ride was quite heartening: patrol cars waited patiently for 10-15 minutes for the bulk of the mass to get through.

The officer in this City of Miami  police car recognizes that Critical Mass is now a regular monthly phenomenon that should be respected and celebrated. S/he waited just like all the other cars . . . probably wishing that s/he could join us!

Also, as was recently reported on an extremely prestigious, high-profile news source, our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was seen protecting Critical Mass riders as they made their way through the city.

With public defenders like Spidey (or at least a cool firefighter dude dressed-up like him) climbing street-lamps to demonstrate their good-will toward cyclists, one finds it difficult to deny that Critical Mass has indeed made it to the big leagues of Miami’s collective consciousness.

Critical Mass has been ending at The Filling Station, among Miami’s best dive bars, for the past several months. Even the final intersection we’ve been stopping at is more mainstream, bringing the cyclist traffic of the mass into the heart of downtown automobile traffic — a very appropriate ending, if you ask me.

 

These days, Critical Mass ends at the intersection of SE 2nd Street and SE 1st Avenue, at a great Miami dive bar, The Filling Station.

So, our dearly beloved readers, we ask you to give us your reflections on the past year of Critical Mass . . .

Will you remember 2012 as the year Miami’s Critical Mass went mainstream?

Whatever the case, while 2012 was unquestionably a great year for Miami Critical Mass, I’m pretty sure it’s only going to get better in 2013.

Happy New Year, Miami!

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Are you a beginning cyclist and think Critical Mass is only for hard-core riders?

If so, you’re absolutely wrong. Critical Mass is for riders of all skill-levels and all ages. There is no club or organization that runs the show. There are no membership fees or special invitations required. In fact, if you’re looking for an invitation, here it is: You are invited!

We meet the last Friday of every month at Government Center Metrorail station — you won’t miss us. Arrive between 6:45 and 7:00pm. We leave at 7:15pm. Check out The Miami Bike Scene for details on the monthly ride.

There is, however, one group who we strongly advise NOT to attend Critical Mass: super villains and bad guys!

That’s right, you read it correctly, all you crime-seeking punks! Want to test your luck? Ha! Well, I’d give it a second thought if I were you.

‘Why’, you ask? I’ll tell you why! As a matter of fact, I’ll show you why!

Spider-Man shows love to Critical Mass riders and protects us from bad guys! Thank you City of Miami firefighters for showing solidarity with Critical Mass!

A firefighter from the City of Miami suited up and gave the December 2012 Critical Massers a fun show to keep the crowd lively! All of this while the fire truck in the station blared its siren and flashed its lights. Public safety officials (cops and firefighters) show their solidarity with the burgeoning Miami Critical Mass movement.

Any questions?!

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Dear City of Coral Gables,

I love you. You truly are the City Beautiful, a title and reputation well deserved and well maintained. (Well, at least when you’re not knocking out your own teeth by forfeiting precious building space for a parking lot).

Despite my deep affection for you, you lovely gem of a greater Miami municipality, you disappointed me today.

I love riding along your M-Path curves, but I will not tolerate one of your very own Public Works Department employees coming between us like this.

On my bicycle sprint along the M-Path, the last thing I expect or want to encounter is a City vehicle blocking the multi-use (bicycle/pedestrian/etc.) path.

If this is going to work out, you’ll have to promise that you’ll never again allow one of your city employees to violate our relationship. I better not encounter a motor vehicle on the M-Path ever again, especially not one bearing your city seal and colors.

I strongly doubt you’d allow one of these guys to block one of your motor vehicle lanes. Who do you think you are allowing them to block a multi-use path?!

Sincerely,

Broken-Hearted Biker

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As we prepare to commence a new year, let us never forget, friends: our city is the Magic City.

Let us always remember to treat it as such.

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As reported earlier this month by our friends over at Curbed Miami, the long-anticipated, long-stalled Brickell Flatiron Park has finally materialized.

Curbed Miami has extensive coverage of the park, with multiple images provided by Transit Miami’s own Craig Chester.

Here are a few more shots of the newly materialized public space. This section of Brickell now has a nice little wedge of accessible park space from which to peacefully gaze and reflect upon the dynamic urban morphology surrounding it.

Cyclist on the bike lane, downtown explorers on the Metromover, Cars2Go waiting for savvy intra-city travelers . . . and a new, sweet park waiting to be fully discovered and enjoyed by Brickellites and other downtown denizens.

The weekly farmers’ market should help draw attention to this much needed downtown park oasis.

All this street signage for active transportation (walking, biking) is great, but municipal workers need better guidelines on where to install the signs. It’s a bit contradictory to have a ‘pedestrian’ sign obstructing part of the sidewalk, and a ‘bike lane’ sign obstructing the other part of the sidewalk, requiring walkers to zig-zag along their path.  All street signs and street furniture should be as far out of the pedestrian thoroughfare as possible. Hopefully that ‘men at work / construction’ sign won’t be up for too long either.

Some new trees to help revive our sparse and frail urban forest canopy, along with plenty of limestone benches on which to sit back and take-in the city — it’s getting better everyday.

With the incipient rise of Brickell CitiCenter just to the north of Mary Brickell Village, this northwest section of the Brickell neighborhood is truly becoming the new hallmark of Miami urbanism.

Now all that’s left is making sure Brickellite yuppies — for so long bereft of such an open public space to call their own — know what to do with their new neighborhood amenity.

Transit Miami’s advice: just sit back and enjoy the growing spectacle your city has to offer.

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TransitMiami is excited to share the latest images of the possible Metrorail train car fleet! We should be seeing one or more of these proposed machines in operation by the first quarter of 2015.

We were provided with exterior and interior renderings for three (3) fundamentally new Metrorail vehicle models:

  1. SPOON
  2. RING
  3. SHIELD

Each of these models bears a distinctive livery (design scheme / insignia):

  1. SPOON — “Neon”
  2. RING — “Shark” & “Shark Y”
  3. SHIELD — “Status”
 Take a look. . . .

SPOON — “Neon”

RING — “Shark” & “Shark Y”

SHIELD — “Status”

 

Share your thoughts. . . . Any favorites? Any design(s) you particularly love/hate? . . . Speak up, Miami!

 

Transit Miamians — It’s an extremely important time to make your voices heard to your elected officials and community planners!

As many of you already know, Miami-Dade County seems to have concluded its negotiations with the firms bidding to construct and install the new Metrorail train cars, slated for delivery in the last quarter of 2014.

The Miami Herald reported early last week on Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s endorsement of the Italian company, AnsaldoBreda, to win the $313,000,000 contract to replace 136 Metrorail vehicles.

Putting aside the politics of the decision in favor of the Italian firm AnsaldoBreda over the Spanish firm CAF, TransitMiami was interested in learning more about the actual designs of the new train cars themselves, and how they would impact our daily commute.

We got in touch with the energetic and eager-to-help Acting Assistant Director of Miami-Dade Transit Rail Services, Mr. Jerry Blackman. If you recall, Transit Miami reported on Mr. Blackman’s January 2012 presentation at the Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) regarding the acquisition of the new Metrorail train cars.

At that time, unfortunately, the contract was still under bid and thus remained under the Cone of Silence. Exercising an abundance of caution, Blackman was rather tight-lipped about the contract.

When Transit Miami got in touch with Mr. Blackman just a few weeks ago, it seemed that the Cone of Silence was still in effect. Just a few days later, however, the Miami-Herald brought the public’s attention to Mayor Gimenez’s recommendation that AnsaldoBreda be awarded the multi-million dollar contract that will dictate our Metrorail experience for the next 30-plus years or so.

We were then able to convince Mr. Blackman to give us some insider information on the design of the prospective Metrorail train cars.

We didn’t get too much, but what we did get should make a good start to a deeper public dialogue on how our city’s Metrorail can best serve its people . . .

With regard to “Passenger Seating / Bicycle Rack”, we got the following excerpt from a presentation made by an unspecified bidding firm (assumedly AnsaldoBreda):

  • Color schemes, materials and designs will be finalized during the Vehicle Final Engineering Design Reviews
  • The seating layout shall provide for two ADA compliant wheelchair areas per car
  • Seat cushions shall be designed to fit on the seat frame in a clean, well designed appearance, and shall include cushion foam and upholstery
  • Seat upholstery shall be a material resistant to graffiti, vandalism, and liquid pentration
  • The seating arrangement shall include an area in the R-end of the vehicle with center facing flip-up seating to allow for passengers with either baggage or bicycles
  • Bicycle racks shall be installed with provisions to support a minimum of two (2) bicycles per car to secure bicycles

We also acquired a single rendering of the interior of one of the proposed Metrorail train car designs — it’s no Rosetta Stone of Miami Transit, but it’s a start to a more transparent public discussion:

This conceptual rendering of one of the proposed designs of the new Metrorail train cars should get us thinking: Is this the type of train that will best serve our community for the next 30-plus years?

Now that we’ve finally emerged from the secretive Cone of Silence, it’s time to speak-up! Transit Miami will be keeping a close eye on how our collective $313 million is going to be spent.

This is our city; let’s make sure it evolves the way we want — the way we need - it to . . .

 

You are invited to attend the ***FREE*** alternative fueled vehicle roadshow event in Miami.

A statewide vehicle showcase tour and series of presentations on the economics and practicality of implementing alternative fuel transportation solutions for industry and government, using natural gas, propane, biofuels, and electric vehicles.

Registration is required for this free event:

http://www.afvroadshowmiami.eventbrite.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 — 9:00am-noon

701 NW 1st Court

Miami, Florida 33136

 

 

 

This won’t come as news to many of you, but for several months now, the experience on Metrorail has been improved tremendously.

The transition from 6- to 4-car trains since the grand opening of the Orange Line to the brand new Miami International Airport Station (a.k.a., Central Station) in late July 2012 has certainly been a welcome change.

The grand opening of the Metrorail’s new Orange Line and the Miami International Airport station has run parallel to, and even initiated, some positive changes to Miami’s Metrorail experience.

The MIA station grand opening marks the beginning of an exciting renaissance for our Metrorail system.

The trains now come much more frequently, reducing:

  • 7-8-minute rush hour wait times to 5-6-minute rush hour wait times,
  • 15-minute off-peak hour wait times to 7-8-minute off-peak hour wait times, and
  • 30-minute weekend wait times to 15-20-minute weekend wait times.

Apart from that indispensable improvement to the system, you’ve almost certainly also noticed the improvements to the physical layouts to the inside of the train cars themselves. In nearly every Metrorail train car, one now finds that two sets of seats have been removed and, from the resultant additional space, there is now a much-needed area for standing passengers and bike and luggage storage.

This sign may now seem a trivial commonplace, but it represents a hugely positive change in thinking on how our Metrorail trains should be occupied.

Below are some pictures of the new Metrorail space in action. It’s great to see people regularly using the space, especially during rush hour, when there simply aren’t enough seats for everybody (not to mention that many people, myself included, actually prefer standing over sitting).

Five comfortably standing Metrorail riders. Even more passengers could fit in the new standing space during times of higher volumes (albeit a bit less comfortably).

The most important cargo of all: one’s children. Where else would this man have put that huge, twin child stroller (and his two young children inside it) if not for the Metrorail’s new standing/storage space?

Without this new bicycle storage area, that bike would be either obstructing the center isle, blocking seats from passengers, and/or simply creating a hazard.

These four gentlemen have much more leg room and space standing than they would sitting squished together, especially with their bags and other carry-on items.

The additional standing room is an improvement of which I’ve personally been a long-time advocate. In November 2011, I presented a set of possible policy changes to the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee pertaining to the many issues surrounding the Metrorail Bike & Ride Policy. The removal of seats to create more standing and storage area was the primary proposal of the presentation. It’s great to know that Miami-Dade Transit is listening to its riders! Now we just need more people speaking-up!

One of the overarching problems with the Bike & Ride policy (notwithstanding the utterly ineffective Bike & Ride permit system) has always been that bicycles were relegated to the back of the train. This created lots of confusion and often overcapacitated the rear train car with bikes.

Finally, bikes have a space on Metrorail. Things are hopefully going to get even better when the new train cars with hanging bike racks come into fruition.

The new Miami-Dade Transit Bike & Ride policy (last updated July 24, 2012) permits bikes in any train car containing the sign depicted above. That’s a huge improvement! The only problem is that Miami-Dade Transit has yet to install signs on the exterior of the train cars so that riders can identify which cars are appropriate to enter with their bicycles.

Another positive change is that the new Bike & Ride policy doesn’t explicitly specify a maximum number of bikes permitted in each train car. The previous number of bikes allowed on the train was a mere four. As you can imagine, that policy was ridiculously impossible to enforce, and completely undermined the point of having a policy in the first place. If you’re going to make rules, make sure they make sense and can be enforced, otherwise the entire system is delegitimized. Fortunately for us, limits are no longer specified.

There are still problems, of course.  Miami-Dade Transit still hasn’t improved the system for distributing and enforcing its Bike & Ride permits — that’s a whole other issue!

Still, it’s undeniable that, with regard to the overall Metrorail system, layout, and policies, things are evolving for the better. Until the new Metrorail train cars are acquired in the last quarter of 2014 (for installation and usage estimated for the first quarter of 2015), we’re going to have to appreciate what we’ve got and continue making our voices heard to make it better!

In the blinding brightness of the east-facing morning, trapped in our metallic boxes of rage, impatience, and anxiety, the truth called out to us . . .

It called, not as an answer, but as a question . . . a question whose simplicity made a mockery of all those willing to confront it . . .

Out of the blinding light, for that fleeting moment of honesty concealed by the shadows, the truth taunted all those brave enough to accept it . . .

From the blinding light, the truth dared us to regain our vision . . .

WHY DRIVE?

RIDE . . . METRORAIL

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