Posts by: Tony Garcia

James Dougherty, Pamela Stacy and Jason King  created the Arrive in Style poster for CNU20’s AuthentiCity Contest. The Arrive in Style poster provides plans for the redevelopment of the Belvedere Road Station and Banyan Boulevard Station in West Palm Beach in a style consistent with Addison Mizner’s vision for West Palm Beach. The plan envisions walkable, mixed-use destinations in the grand tradition of placemaking established in the golden age of Florida rail travel.   

A travel poster format was used to make a statement about transit planning in the future: train travel was once an entirely designed experience – from the city center one departed from, to the passenger car one travelled in, to the city center one arrived at – and for this reason train travel had tremendous appeal. There was an instant excitement upon arrival that automobile and plane travel can never fully provide. Immediately after getting off the train there was an experience of place.

For transit to become attractive to new generations it needs to recover its grandeur.  This will require station buildings that are proud, memorable, and iconic (regardless of style). Leaving the station one must find themselves in more than just a walkable environment with connections to local transit, but at the heart of the city or town, at the center of activity. Also, one’s experience of beauty cannot be limited to temporary art exhibitions in the station but present in the buildings, streets, and neighborhoods around the stations.

Transit centers should be anchored by a signature open space.  This space could serve as an identifiable landmark for all the surrounding neighborhoods. Corner stores and live-work offices around these open spaces and near the transit stops will provide an initial mixed-use component which would grow to full centers. The next increments of urbanism are shown in the plans: the corridors that connect the rail stations to the surrounding neighborhoods fronted by urban format buildings, and the neighborhoods themselves, infilled with housing types that can generate transit-supportive densities.  

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I heart bungalows. One of the best building types, and an endangered species throughout Miami, where it was once widespread. This is exactly the type of housing the City of Miami should be restoring  - not tearing down (as they recently voted to allow with a zoning change along 12th avenue - a bastion of bungalow frontage). Check out some of my favorites from around East Little Havana….

A color coded survey of historic bungalows in East Little Havana performed by Street Plans.

 

 

 

Bungalows have been adapted and recycled many times. Infill development opportunities abound, you only need to be creative...

 

 

 

 

 

With all the hype about how many ‘units’ have sold and how much ‘inventory’ is left in downtown, it’s hard to overlook how these ‘dense’ developments are nothing more than vertical suburbs. Why walk around the city when you can live in a “lushly landscaped gated waterfront community”? Gag.  The PR machine is in full swing touting recent condo sales as part of the revitalization of downtown…but you only have to look to the nearest bus shelter (like the one below) to see the reality.

 

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Check out this upcoming meeting co-hosted by Transit Miami friends: the ULI Young Leaders, the Townhouse Center Blog and Miami Urbanist (among others). Meetings like this help spread the word that urban infill is the way to go….

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The 20th annual Congress of the New Urbanism is being held in West Palm Beach this year, and for lovers of human-scaled urbanism there is no other place to be. For those of you new to the game, the congress is a meeting of the brightest American urban minds. We commiserate, share the work of the past year, and create new connections with other like-minded professionals.

If you have never been to a Congress it can be overwhelming at first. This is not your typical corporate conference. You won’t find sessions on ‘Negotiating Skills for Planners’ or ‘Airport Land-Use Districts’ (both sessions from a recent planning conference). Instead, the congress is the incubator for the latest ideas shaping our cities — a dynamic event where folks bring ideas that they have been brewing during the previous year to discuss with thinkers from around the country.

It’s fitting that CNU 20 began with the NextGen Congress within a Congress, where young New Urbanists set the stage for the rest of the week. Presentations have ranged from Misunderstood Mobility, to Tactical Urbanism. Throughout all the disparate sessions runs a strong undercurrent of self-critique — a spirit of constructive criticism that is central to the practice of good urbanism.

Massachusetts urban planner Jennifer Krouse made this insightful critique about the Congress itself: “Meeting in a conference center is convenient, but it has a way of segregating us from the city we’re in, and when we leave, there’s no sign that we’ve ever been there. Which is pretty funny when you consider that the CNU is a meeting composed almost entirely of people whose mission is placecraft.”

This is the sort of discussion that takes place at CNU – brutally honest – and not just about our broken pattern of development, but how we as a professional organization hope to move forward.

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For lovers of urbanism, the annual Congress for the New Urbanism is an event to be anticipated all year. The annual conference brings together urban planners, architects, and policy makers to discuss the practice of urbanism. For many of us the Congress can feel like a family reunion – a time to celebrate the work of the past year with colleagues, and to reaffirm our commonly held beliefs in the principles of traditional town design.

This year the Congress is being held in West Palm Beach, and Transit Miami will be there all week to cover the events in a live blogging partnership with Next American City.

The CNU-Miami tour des urbanistes 

After having planned our totally unsanctioned and epic ride for months, the day is finally here for the big ride.

We are starting our weeklong urbanism love-in by staging an epic tour des urbanistes  bike ride from South Miami to West Palm Beach. Members of the local Congress for the New Urbanism Miami Chapter, led by CNU chair and South Miami resident Victor Dover, will embark early Tuesday morning on the 90 mile journey to West Palm Beach. Stay tuned…we’ll have more for you along the way!

Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, together with The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade and generous sponsors, is hosting the 2012 Great Park Summit on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables.

Join park and recreation professionals, environmental organizations, patrons of the arts, elected and governmental officials and others for an engaging discussion about enhancing regions through innovative design, planning and stewardship of public space. The Summit includes nationally-recognized guest speakers and exhibitors showcasing a host of park-centric and sustainable programs, products and services.

This year’s theme is Partnerships Through Creative Initiatives: Red fields to Green fields. The idea is to revitalize underutilized properties with parks as the catalyst for sustainable development. It’s a forward-thinking initiative designed to create jobs, support property values and build a more vibrant South Florida. Please mark your calendar and don’t miss this unique opportunity to be part of the conversation on parks and conservation open space in Miami-Dade. Event is open to the public. To RSVP or learn more, contact Eric Hansen at 305-755-5460.

Under the guise of hosting a discussion about the future of mobility in South Florida, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has brought our leading transportation officials together with anti-transit Libertarian Robert Poole to go over their plans to greatly expand toll roads in Miami-Dade County.

Tapped by our soon-to-be-one-term Governor as one of his transportation advisors, Poole has finished an 18 month ‘study’ of how to improve transportation in South Florida. The reason for the study, according to a press release, is that “[The 2035 Long Range Plan] puts a major emphasis on alternatives to driving—transit, bicycling and walking. In fact, of the $58 billion available for transportation between 2015 and 2035, the plan devotes 62% to improving and operating various forms of transit. Unfortunately, if the plan is implemented as written, by 2035 a smaller fraction of all trips (2.6%) will be made via transit than the 2.9% made via transit today.”

Fair enough. That might be true, but that has more to do with the over reliance on BRT over rail transit. The conclusions made by the report are nothing less than preposterous for transportation and urban planners, pointing to ‘managed lanes’ as the panacea to our mobility challenges. (Insert gag here).From the press release:

The plan includes four key components:

A region-wide network of expressway managed lanes (MLs) like those on I-95, encompassing 302 route-miles and 1,117 lane-miles;

Upgrades for 14 key arterials (107 route-miles) with underpasses at major signalized intersections, an innovation we call “managed arterials” (MAs);

Premium bus rapid transit (BRT) as in the current long-range plan, but operating mostly on the “virtually exclusive busways” made possible by the network of MLs and MAs, rather than on politically dubious bus-only lanes;

A series of system operational improvements, including extensive expressway ramp metering and further expansion of traffic signal coordination.

These four components tell a striking story of the city that Poole (and his cohorts at FDOT and MDX) would have us inhabit. On the one hand Poole contends our current Long Range Transportation plan (with its reliance on BRT) is not going to be successful, yet his plan relies on the exact same BRT system (as stated above). He proposes that MDX and the Governor create tolled highways out of major arterials (like US1 and Flagler), utilizing overpasses and underpasses that will be costly to build and blight the city, to create revenue AND ‘premium bus rapid transit’ corridors. Unfortunately, bus rapid transit does not work on highways where folks cannot easily get on/off. The best BRT systems in the world run at grade, in a dedicated lane, and in the city center. This plan is doomed to fail because it views transit as an afterthought.

This is real BRT (from Bogota).

The idea of using transit as a way to sweeten an otherwise bad idea is not new. We have been reporting for some time about MDXs plan to run a highway parallel to US1, under the dubious assumption that it will greatly improve transit service. (Meanwhile, low cost transit improvements that would greatly improve service, like signal coordination, go unimplemented because of their impact on local traffic.)

MDX has been planning on tolling everyone for some time - they have just been sneaky about it.

 

There is so much to dislike about this plan that it is hard to know where to start. First the idea of greatly expanding tolls on what Poole calls “urban toll expressways” (ie. neighborhood streets) will create highways in places where we are trying to lower speeds and increase pedestrian, bicycle and transit use. These highways will be in direct competition with transit, and rather than be subsidized by the government, the costs will be borne by the citizens of South Florida. Already saddled with high tax and few mobility options, the Governor and MDX will double down on a failed transportation system by taxing residents, so that they can in turn build more highways! The Ponzi scheme developed by MDX to build and toll and build some more will be spread all over the land.

I am all for bus rapid transit, but it should not be used as a chaser for the bitter pill MDX and the Governor are trying to push down our throats. We need to continue to build our rail network and then we can start to feed into it with BRT. If officials want to create bus-only lanes, the way that every other city in America is doing, great! Close a lane of Bird Road, Coral Way, 8th street…etc. and have BRT running to the heart of our metropolis in its own dedicated lane; but don’t start building highways all over the city. It’s time for MDX to wake up and realize that mass transit is the future of our region – not highways. If it doesn’t evolve, it might find that there are a great many people, myself included, who don’t see a reason for it to exist anymore. We want transit - not tolls.

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Against the backdrop of what has been a tragic month on South Florida roadways, City of Miami residents and businesses can take solace that the upcoming Coral Way resurfacing project will now include numerous pedestrian safety improvements. Thanks to the work of District 4 City Commissioner Francis Suarez and the Transit Miami team, the residents of the Coral Way corridor will soon enjoy improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities, as well as a lower 35 mph speed limit as part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s upcoming 2.5 mile Coral Way resurfacing project.

The changes to the project come after FDOT officials originally presented designs for the corridor in November 2011 which were panned by advocates and elected officials for lacking pedestrian improvements; the plans maintained the meager crosswalk spacing and high speed design that typifies the corridor today.

Following the initial public meeting, Transit Miami was asked by District 4 staff to compile a list of pedestrian improvements that could be incorporated into the design. As a road resurfacing project, we were mindful that there was a limit to the improvements that could be made without drastically increasing the cost of the project. As such we identified a series of low cost, high impact interventions that could be incorporated into the project, which included:

  • Additional north/south crosswalks across Coral Way at every side street intersection – 13 total
  • Higher quality pedestrian crossings at major intersections (4 total)
  • Lower speed limit throughout

These recommendations were forwarded to Secretary Gus Pego by Commissioner Francis Suarez’s Chief-of-Staff, Mike Llorente, along with a note from that said, “The basic message – that the contemplated project fails to capitalize on the opportunity to make Coral Way more pedestrian friendly – is echoed by City Commissioner Suarez and several area residents who attended the community meeting on Wednesday. As you know, the contemplated project does not include any additional pedestrian crosswalks. As a result, pedestrians will continue to have access to only one crosswalk every five blocks, or .5 miles. The lack of crosswalks makes this area very difficult to navigate on foot.” (A phenomenon Transit Miami went on to document in a video post.)
After intense lobbying by the Commissioner and his staff, FDOT agreed to perform additional pedestrian counts and a speed study to gauge whether demand warranted additional crosswalks and a lower speed limit. Not surprisingly they documented a corridor whose pedestrian activity is growing despite the lack of adequate pedestrian facilities.

The analysis led District 6 staff to include five additional crosswalks across Coral Way; 4 with flashing beacons, and one new full intersection. In addition, the City will be able to financially contribute to enhanced crosswalks at major intersections, to include raised pavers and timed crosswalk signals. These measures will be accompanied by a reduction in the speed limit to 35 mph (throughout), and the inclusion of bicycle “sharrows” along the entire corridor from 13 Avenue to 37 Avenue. While not all of the recommendations were followed, FDOT agreed to a majority of what Transit Miami recommended.
Though still governed by their ‘data driven design’ mantra, FDOT’s changes to this project should be seen as encouraging news for green mobility advocates because they reflect an increase in pedestrian activity, even as measured by FDOT engineers. District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Project Manager Ramon Sierra were clear that additional crosswalks could be requested in the near future as the corridor continues to develop more pedestrian activity. We’ve been documenting the rise of Coral Way for six years now, and now more than ever the corridor can boast that it has a vibrant future ahead. 
Kudos to Commissioner Suarez and his staff for going to bat for complete streets, and major kudos to FDOT for reevaluating their project and working together with elected officials and advocates to make these improvements. We hope that this project is an indication of how we might move forward, together to make our streets safer for all.

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Put this in the “Things that can make life better NOW” category.  

From the New York City Department of Transportation:

The project was based on a feasibility analysis that indicated it would improve traffic flow on 6th and 7th Avenue and improve traffic safety along Broadway. Both before and after implementing Green Light for Midtown as a pilot, NYCDOT collected extensive data on travel times, traffic volumes, pedestrian volumes and traffic accidents in the months just prior and just following project implementation. According to this data, the project is delivering on its expectations.

DOT collected and analyzed extensive data from GPS units in taxis to understand the impacts on this project for travel in and around midtown. Findings show:

  • Travel speeds for northbound trips throughout West Midtown improved 17% from fall 2008-2009, compared with 8% in East Midtown.
  • Travel speeds for southbound trips in West Midtown fell by 2% while East Midtown showed an increase of 3%.
  • The speed of eastbound trips increased by 5% and westbound trips by 9% over the same time period.
  • Bus travel speeds increased by 13% on 6th Avenue and fell by 2% on 7th Avenue.

Safety has also been vastly improved as a result of this project.

  • Injuries to motorists and passengers in the project area are down 63%.
  • Pedestrian injuries are down 35%.
  • 80% fewer pedestrians are walking in the roadway in Times Square.

And the project has had additional benefits as well.

  • 74% of New Yorkers surveyed by the Times Square Alliance agree that Times Square has improved dramatically over the last year.
  • The number of people walking along Broadway and 7th Avenue in Times Square is up 11% and pedestrian volume is up 6% in Herald Square.

Based on these findings, Mayor Bloomberg has decided to make these changes permanent. NYCDOT will begin a capital project to design and build the plazas and corridor treatments with permanent, high quality materials.

 

In communities across the country, open streets initiatives are redefining citizens’ relationships with public spaces and encouraging millions of Americans to get active. To foster the growth and development of these exciting initiatives, the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the Street Plans Collaborative have launched two new, innovative resources: The Open Streets Project website and the Open Streets Guide.

Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobiles, allowing residents to walk, bike, skate, dance and utilize the roadways in countless creative and active ways. From Los Angeles to Ottawa, and Missoula to Miami, open streets have become a way for cities to build community, promote active transportation and reconnect neighborhoods divided by traffic.

The website, www.OpenStreetsProject.org, showcases dozens of current initiatives across the continent and allows municipalities and advocacy organizations to share information and resources on their open streets initiatives as they evolve and expand. The Open Streets Guide features best practices from 67 initiatives across the continent, and serves as a tool for cities looking to start or grow an open streets initiative. Click here to download the free electronic copy of the guide. A print version will be available on March 21, 2012 at www.OpenStreetsProject.org.

“Open Streets initiatives are transformational for people and their communities,” said Jeffrey Miller, Alliance President/CEO. “When communities open their streets to people, they inspire citizens to see their roads as public spaces, and provide a welcoming gateway for residents to engage in healthy lifestyles and active transportation.”

“The Open Streets Project aims to support these exciting initiatives by providing advocates and organizers a comprehensive overview of organizational and implementation strategies,” said Mike Lydon, Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative. “We believe the Project will be a catalyst for the continued growth of the open streets in communities across the continent.”

If your city or organization has information to share about an open streets initiative in your community, please contact Mike Samuelson, Alliance Open Streets Coordinator, at (202) 449-9692 x7 or mike@PeoplePoweredMovement.org.

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Imagine walking out of the Metromover station at Biscayne and East Flagler Street and stepping out onto a linear park that runs under the elevated tracks, and continues north between the travel lanes of Biscayne Boulevard. Parking lots replaced with park space where people are sitting, having coffee, or even doing their morning yoga routine.

Welcome to Bayfront Parkway! - the latest Tactical Urbanist intervention brought to you by The Street Plans Collaborative, in partnership with C3TS.

Great cities have great parks. What is left of our great downtown waterfront park (after taking out the excessive number of buildings cluttering the landscape -read Museums, Bayside….etc) is underutilized by local residents; separated from area residents and businesses by FDOT’s 8 lane highway  design for Biscayne Boulevard. What should be an easy five minute walk for folks living across the street is distorted by excessively wide travel lanes, speeding motorists, and a few crosswalks to get to the park. What Biscayne Boulevard needs is a road diet that reallocates car space, both in the form of travel lanes converted to on-street parking  and parking lots converted to park space. This will not only provide a natural expansion of Bayfront Park - at a time of shrinking park budgets and ever growing needs for park space, it will also help traffic calm the street and bridge the distance between the park and the growing population of residents and businesses along Biscayne from I395 to SE 1 Street.

For five days Miamians will be able to get to experience what this space would be like if it were permanently converted into a park. From Tuesday February 29 to Sunday March 4, we will take over the parking lot between Flagler and NE 1 Street, and convert it into a grass covered park with moveable seating, food trucks, exercise equipment and more. There will be street  performances throughout the five days, from spoken word to jazz shows, sponsored by Miami-Dade College. Our goal is simple - to activate this space as much as possible with the everyday activities of a typical park.

Please join us for your lunch hour, or stop by after work. We want to show you how great it will be  - Bayfront Parkway!

Visit the project website at: http://bayfrontparkway.com/index.php for more information.

 

Meet the Douglas Road Corridor MetroRail Line.This 4.5 mile project would connect the MIC to Douglas Road Station and US1, with stops at NW 7 Street,  SW 8 Street, and Coral Way. The line would service areas, like downtown Coral Gables, where land use already supports a high level of pedestrian activity. This should be a high priority for our leaders, and some are very supportive. Check out the 5 and ten minute walk sheds  - this line would run through some of the densest parts of Miami and Coral Gables - pluggining thousands of residents who have already chosen apartment living into the ultimate urban amenity - rapid transit.  (Not to mention creating another connection to the airport for those traveling to/from points south.)

 

 

“What this project would also do, is to reinforce exactly the growth pattern that failed Miami-Dade County, wrecked the Everglades, jeopardized thousands of acres of wetlands and farmland. You don’t get out of a ditch by digging the same ditch, deeper. But that is the kind of logic Miami-Dade lobbyists and appointees embraced, in the run-up to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Watch what they do, now.”

-Local blogging powerhouse GeniusofDespair from Eye On Miami on the proposed 5-year work plan of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority which would build expressways in far western parts of the county, exacerbating sprawl and traffic congestion. In the Transit Miami world, this plan has officially entered….the NO BS Zone! Have you sent your email letter requesting that they remove the 836 Extension project from the 5 year plan?

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