The M-Path is, without a doubt, one of Miami’s top bicycle amenities. Officially called the Metropath, the corridor was recently acknowledged by FDOT consultant Stewart Robertson as, “the most connected, non-motorized path in Miami-Dade County.” The path has been the subject of numerous Transit Miami posts over the years, where we have advocated for both long and short-term changes that will improve connectivity along the path, including better crosswalks, repaving and straightening.
Luckily, city officials are realizing what an asset the M-path is, and are busy implementing parts of the 2007 M-Path Master Plan, as evidenced by the recent celebration of the M-Path south extension on April 5 where Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez officially inaugurated the path’s newly-minted Dadeland sections (including the new pedestrian bridge over the Snapper Creek expressway).
With all the attention being paid to the M-Path, we wanted to go back to review the action items from the 2007 Master Plan, and compare that plan with the proposed M-path improvement project(s). The projects, recently presented to members of the Miami-Dade Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee by FDOT consultant Stewart Robertson, include short- and long-term improvements being made to the path.
- resurfacing critical sections,
- providing advance warning signals and re-striping crosswalks,
- installing north/south directional signs, as well as signage indicating distances to Metrorail stations,
- installing ‘STOP’ pavement markings near intersections,
- marking precarious and sight-limited meandering (curving) sections,
- constructing the path’s missing links at the University of Miami parking lot sections,
- realigning the path at the South Miami Metrorail station and closing the existing sidewalk (identified as a “high crime area” in the Master Plan),
- installing emergency call boxes at these “high crime areas”,
- implementing encroachment prevention measures, and
- applying development standards during site plan review and approval.
- realigning overly meandering parts of the path,
- widening the path to 12-feet,
- installing countdown pedestrian signals,
- reconfiguring intersection layouts (to include, e.g., crosswalk realignments, refuge islands, raised intersections, bollards, etc.),
- installing lighting along the path,
- enhancing landscaping along the path,
- providing way-finding signage to the Metrorail stations,
- constructing a non-motorized bridge at the Coral Gables Waterway (the canal crossed by the path via an extremely narrow bridge along Ponce de Leon Boulevard), and
- coordinating a property/easement exchange with the occupant of the lot adjacent to the path at Bird (SW 40th Street) and Douglas (SW 37th Avenue) Roads.
According to Robertson, 9 of the 10 short-term improvements have either been addressed, or will be addressed within the next two years through a series of upcoming projects. While we don’t know where, when, and how most of these 9 short-term improvements are to be made, the current capital projects will include resurfacing those portions of the path where asphalt has crumbled, reinforcing those sidewalk sections of path (typically found near Metrorail stations) where tree roots have cracked the concrete, and realigning excessive curves along the path.
In some cases these curves block two-way visibility along the path and contribute to the path’s many disjointed sections. In addition to straightening the path, attention will be paid to intersections critical for connectivity. Notable path alignment and crosswalk improvements mentioned in the presentation include SW 19th Avenue (which will involve a re-milling of hilly topography), SW 22nd Avenue, SW 24th Avenue, the parking-lot sections along the path near the University of Miami, and SW 80th Street.
Intersection enhancements include the widening of curb ramps to the width of the M-Path itself (as was done in the path’s newly constructed and re-constructed southern Dadeland sections), and the painting of high-emphasis/high-impact (‘ladder’) crosswalks. The M-Path Master Plan also prescribes that the new crosswalks be 12 feet in width and further accentuated with supplemental coloring (i.e., with green paint). No clear verbal indication was made by Robertson as to whether these width and color enhancements are included in the proposed projects, though they were depicted in some of the figures contained in his presentation.
Without question, the safety, accessibility, and connectivity of the M-Path – our community’s most prized shared-use path – will improve.
However, a notoriously daunting and dangerous problem continues to plague the M-Path: automobiles encroach onto the crosswalks — where and if present — linking the path.
Numerous examples of this can be found, especially at intersections with major arterials like SW 27th Avenue, SW 67th Avenue, and SW 32 Avenue, although they occur at every street crossing the path. Motorists at these cross-streets turning-onto US-1 (or turning right from US-1) advance their vehicles into the crosswalks without consideration, obstructing the passage of M-Path walkers, joggers, skaters, bikers, and those in wheel-chairs.
Transit Miami strongly advocates for a very simple solution: A Miami-Dade County ordinance and/or Florida-wide law prohibiting right turns at red lights abutting at intersections abutting any multi-use facility, such as the Metrorail-Path.
The forthcoming implementation of some of the short- and long-term improvements laid-out in the 2007 M-Path Master Plan is exciting, and will undoubtedly transform our community’s experience on the M-Path for recreational, commuting, and overall transportation purposes. We give these projects a Transit Miami thumbs up!
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