Currently viewing the category: "FDOT"

By: Harry Emilio Gottlieb 

How many more cyclists need to be sliced and diced on
cheese grater surface before FDOT is motivated
to improve safety with nonslip bike lane?

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So you wake up this morning and decide to great the day with an enjoyable and healthy bike ride. You determine today’s destination and plot your rout. It will to take you over the Miami River and Intercoastal. There is light traffic, the wind is in your favor and there is enough cloud coverage to make it comfortable. You have ridden across that drawbridge many times before. But this time it will be just a little different. A few hours ago there was dew in the air or perhaps a drizzle of rain. The moisture has mixed with the fuel residue from cars, trucks and boats. The surface of the metal grate at the crest of the drawbridge is now covered in a slippery film that may be a challenge to most cyclists, especially those on Road and TriBikes, out for a bit of exercise. All of a sudden you sense something is very wrong. Your bike is sliding and perhaps even fishtailing. Your priority is now to keep calm, your deal with the new tense situation, adrenaline is kicking in. Your immediate goal is to avoid falling on the “Cheese Grater”. You pray there is no car, truck or bus behind you and will somehow safely reach the solid road ASAP.

Needless to say some cyclists have not been so lucky. They were unable to control the slippery surface and crashed upon the metal grate. Some have received the worst road rash of their bike riding lives and others have experienced fractured ribs, wrists and collarbones. Rising up from the terrible fall one tends to quickly inventory the quantity of healthy fingers remaining in one piece.

There have been numerous cases of cyclists slipping and falling on our drawbridges. Many have been seriously hurt, endured pain, suffering, costly medical bills and damaged or totaled bikes.

So you may ask…
Why hasn’t FDOT taken steps to make drawbridges safer for all cyclists?
Why have they not installed designated bike lanes?
Why have they not installed a no-slip surface?
Why is there not a sign that advises bridge users of whom to contact when an issue arises?

FDOT has not seen a need to do so, because they claim they have no record of anyone reporting a drawbridge cycling accident. The fact is that many cyclists just pick themselves up, go home or seek medical treatment on their own. Unless the accident is very serious in which case the paramedics will be called and a report is filed.

Transit Miami inquired with its readers about their drawbridge concerns and suggested solutions. These include the use of anti-slip metal plates or the filling in of the space with solid material (weight considerations will certainly be an issue). This information was shared with Broward and Miami New Times and they also championed the issue.

Now it is up to the local FDOT office to recognize the need to “Do The Right Thing” and improve the safety of our drawbridges. Its sister office in Broward has previously installed a smaller diameter metal grate in a designated bike lane on the A1A drawbridge just north of Commercial Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale as have other agencies around the country.

IMG_0636        IMG_0634

Photos courtesy of Yamile Castella. 

Another solution would be to designate a bike lane with paint and fill in the dangerous grates with concrete or rubber.

Your help is required to help improve drawbridge safety. Share your concerns and suggestion with TransitMiami in the comments below and while you’re at it, let FDOT personnel know what you think of their inaction. Just as important, report serious accidents to police so that FDOT can no longer claim that they are unaware of doing the right thing, which should be utterly uncontroversial.

Ride safely, especially over drawbridges.

 


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For more information contact: Tania Valenzuela

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A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How living in Miami Beach used to make me smile…

That was – until FDOT took control of Alton Rd, hijacked West Avenue, a formerly quiet residential Boulevard, and dumped thousand of trucks, busses, taxis, and motorcycles right in front of our homes for the duration of over 1 year, turning it into an urban superhighway.
Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

Act 1

March 2013.

As soon as the mega-project was announced, I contacted the City of Miami Beach and FDOT to inquire about what their plans were to mitigate all the traffic and what their plans were for pedestrian safety. The aide to then-mayor Matti Bower, Gabrielle Redfern, took the time to respond.

The mayor is also concerned about how this construction will effect traffic. The City has done its best to work with FDOT to make the project as painless to the residents as possible. Please continue to share your thoughts with the mayor. Your feelings are very important to her.”

I felt emboldened and encouraged that the mayor cared about my feelings. But what was their plan for pedestrian safety?

Act 2

November 2013.

When FDOT started reconfiguring West Ave to 2 Southbound lanes in late 2013 I reported several noise complaint to the City. For some reason FDOT thought it was a good idea to tear open the street to remove those traffic lines in the middle at 4am. I sent a few angry emails about the nighttime noise to Heather Leslie, FDOT’s Public Information Specialist. Her answer went,

The current nighttime work is to restripe West Avenue from 17 Street to 6 Street in order to prepare for the next phase of work on Alton Road. The contractor is completing this work at night because the striping operation requires lane closures and potential detours. We understand the ongoing work has been difficult, and the team will continue to do its best to mitigate the inconveniences.

Where apparently, “mitigating the inconveniences” means “occasionally answering your emails”.  The city never answered to these complaints.
It turns out, that nighttime noise was going to be the least of our problems. As soon as the traffic was re-routed to West Ave that November, it was as though the gates of hell had opened and unleashed previously unknown amounts of nightmarish traffic, noise, and pollution onto West Ave. At the same time, there was no enforcement of speed limits of any sort or any kind of traffic calming for pedestrians. We were left to fend for ourselves. The residents of my condominium quickly gathered at the face of this danger. We contacted the City and FDOT again. A neighbor sent the following email:

I live at 13th and West Avenue.  I am a Senior Records Clerk for a local Police Department and my wife is employed a a local Hospital as a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit.  We have two daughters under the age of 2.  We have lived at the same address for over 10 years.  West Avenue is not the same roadway as when we first began living here.   There have been so many occasions where my family have sat at the crosswalk on West Ave and 14th Street as car after car passes us by, not so much as giving us a glance.  Recently, I entered the crosswalk and an oncoming vehicle southbound did not slow down.  I had to throw my daughter behind me and scream at the top of my lungs for a car to stop in the far left lane.  When he did, he actually gave me the finger and told me to get out of the way.  My wife and I no longer cross West Avenue at all.  It is not the same for my family, let alone the other many families who live in the area, or the many elderly citizens who frequent this intersection.  I watch from my balcony as cars fly by, not yielding whatsoever to pedestrians who have the right of way.  Now that southbound West Avenue has been increased to two lanes it is more dangerous than ever.  Without a stoplight, or a speed bump of some kind, it is without question that it is a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed at that intersection.

This seemed to have gotten FDOT’s attention. A meeting was scheduled for December. Heather Leslie, Enrique Tamayo,  Amanda Shotton, and Ivan Hay from FDOT as well as Lynn Bernstein from the City met us in front of our building on West Ave. Ivan remarked how he could never live here (no wonder). That day they actually witnessed a girl nearly getting hit that morning at the intersection. They all agreed it was unsafe. FDOT then conducted a traffic study and determined that a stop light was needed on 14th and flashing lights were needed on 9th and 12th Streets. After this was determined a whole lot of nothing happened for a whole lot of time.

Act 3

May 2014.

I keep emailing Heather once every month to ask for updates. And then, just 6 months after meeting FDOT….
BAM! We have FLASHING PEDESTRIAN CROSSING SIGNS!!
Pedestrian Signs! Flashing!

Pedestrian Signs! Flashing!

I feel as excited about this basic safety improvement as I would for the fanciest Birthday gift! Finally, our concerns were heard and the powers that be show that they actually care…or do they?

Still nothing has happened on 13th Street or 14th Streets. Ms Leslie has informed me that “The final design plans for the temporary signal at 14 Street have been completed and the materials are currently being procured. The light will be installed once the materials arrive. As discussed, these pedestrian features require engineering plans, as well as the coordination with the various agencies.“) . I emailed FDOT a link to some traffic calming devices on Amazon, for $1600 and asked why they couldn’t just buy one of those but I guess they were not amused by that suggestion.

 

Epilogue

I never heard from the newly elected mayor Mr. Levine, but judging from his Facebook account he is busy meeting celebrities or running in Washington DC.
I’ve never seen police give tickets for nearly running over pedestrians on West Ave. And yet, this happens all day, every day. There is a police officer parked on 17th St and West which is great but that is just one intersection of many on West, and in my opinion not the busiest one for pedestrians.
We have an older lady in our building who leaves the house with a little walking stick so she can threaten cars who do not cede to her passing.
When I cross I am usually wave like a lunatic at those cute little “Stop for Pedestrians” sign in the hope of getting drivers to look up from their cell phones, into my face.
Why is it that we cannot have some adequate traffic enforcement and traffic calming to ensure people do not DIE on the streets of our “world-class” city?

 

Applications due in by March 26.

—-

“The Department is looking for a highly motivated employee to assist in the many outreach efforts in the Miami area.  The FDOT is involved in some of the most interesting and challenging projects in Southeast Florida, and our Public Information Office plays a critical role in the success of those projects by getting the word out, helping technical experts better understand and respond to community needs, responding to elected official and public inquiries and clarifying information, coordinating and communicating with the media on stories about the FDOT and its projects, celebrating the success of the projects by coordinating events such as ribbon cuttings, press events, etc.  The PIO office also assists the leadership of the District in communicating with employees and industry by producing newsletters, collateral material, media packets and coordinating events.

Debora M. Rivera, P.E., Director of Transportation Operations
Florida Department of Transportation, District Six
1000 NW 111 Avenue, Room 6236
Miami, Florida 33172
Telephone (305)470-5449
Email:  debora.rivera@dot.state.fl.us -          

Apply on-line via People First.  Paper applications will not be accepted. https://peoplefirst.myflorida.com/logon.htm

Start Your Application at: http://jobs.myflorida.com/startsubmission.html?erjob=692141

     ACTIVATION DATE:  03- 18-2014                        CLOSING DATE:  03-26-2014

PUBLIC RELATIONS SPECIALISTS Req No: 55007113-51145322-20140317160001

Working Title: PUBLIC INFORMATION ASSISTANT/SPECIALIST
Broadband/Class Code: 27-3031-01
Position Number: 55007113-51145322
Annual Salary Range: $36,400.00 – $43,888.00
Announcement Type: Open Competitive
City: MIAMI
Facility: DISTRICT 6 COMPLEX
Pay Grade/ Pay Band: BB003
Closing Date: 3/26/2014

The State Personnel System is an E-Verify employer. For more information click on our E-Verify website.

STATE OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

POSITION NUMBER: 55007113

BROADBAND OCCUPATION: PUBLIC RELATIONS SPECIALISTS

Completed State of Florida applications are required and should be submitted on-line through this website. If you need assistance, call 1-877-562-7287 (TTY applicants call 1-866-221-0268), and a People First customer service specialist will assist you. Current State of Florida Applications may be faxed to People First @1-888-403-2110. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time on the closing date, or unless otherwise specified in the advertisement.

POSITION LOCATED IN: MIAMI-DADE
CONTACT PERSON: Maribel Lena
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: 305-470-5277
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: You may be required to provide your Social Security Number to conduct required verifications. During a declared emergency event, the incumbent will be required to assist the District as needed. Responsible for adhering to the provisions and requirements of Section 215.422, Florida Statute (FS) related State Comptroller’s Rules and Department of Transportation’s invoice processing and warrant distribution procedures.

POSITION DESCRIPTION: Provides office management, organization and support for the Public Information Office (PIO). Maintains office file and records. Responds to inquiries – phone, written and walk-in from various internal and external customers.

Assists the District Public Information Officer in preparation of materials and information for dissemination to the public. Reviews, edits and approves consultant news releases, brochures, fact sheets, media alerts, and lane closure information for the public and media.

Assists in the coordination and implementation of any special event involving the Department which includes tours, visitors and press conferences. Assist with the coordination of materials (exhibits, printed materials, name tags and comment cards for public hearings, meetings and other events. Coordinate and oversee activities geared to provide recognition and observance to ethnic calendar events for customers and internal partners.

Assists Florida Department of Transportation personnel and consultants with community awareness meetings. Attends and promotes public meetings/hearings, public information and construction workshops.

Assists in the coordination and implementation of special events involving the department such as ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings and special announcements.

Assists in writing and disseminating information for local and statewide education/safety programs and other transportation information, utilizing social media.

Receives and review all contract invoices for accuracy; accepts or rejects invoices based on procedures. Creates Consultant Invoice Transmittals for all invoices, maintains independent budget files for internal auditing purposes. Ensures all invoices have been paid, by verifying payment through the Florida Accounting Information Resource system (FLAIR), prior to filing.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES: KNOWLEDGEABLE OF JOURNALISTIC WRITING STYLE AND THE CONCEPTS OF GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION AND ASSOCIATED PRESS STYLE. KNOWLEDGEABLE AND SKILLED IN MICROSOFT WORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT, PUBLISHER, OUTLOOK AT AN INTERMEDIATE LEVEL. SKILLED IN TAKING TECHNICAL INFORMATION AND TRANSLATING INTO PLAIN LANGUAGE THAT THE PUBLIC CAN UNDERSTAND. ABILITY TO RESEARCH AND WRITE NEWS RELEASES AND REPORTS AND NEWSLETTERS FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC’S UNDERSTANDING. SKILLED IN STRONG WRITTEN AND VERBAL COMMUNICATION. KNOWLEDGEABLE AT PERFORMING BASIC MATHEMATICAL CALCULATIONS. ABILITY TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN EFFECTIVE WORKING RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS. KNOWLEDGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. SKILLED IN DEALING WITH THE PUBLIC IN A PROMPT AND COURTEOUS MANNER. ABILITY TO ORGANIZE AND MANAGE MEETINGS AND SPECIAL EVENTS. ABILITY TO SET AND MANAGE PRIORITIES. ABILITY TO REMAIN CALM AND BE EFFECTIVE UNDER PRESSURE.

SPECIAL NOTES: A Competitive Area Differential (CAD) additive in the amount of $1,268.80 will be added to the annual salary.

Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, must notify the agency hiring authority and/or the People First Service Center (1-877-562-7287). Notification to the hiring authority must be made in advance to allow sufficient time to provide the accommodation.

The Department of Transportation hires only U.S. citizens and lawfully authorized alien workers. An Employment Eligibility Verification check will be conducted using the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services’ electronic database (E-Verify) on each new employee.

Pursuant to Chapter 295, Florida Statutes, eligible veterans and spouses of veterans who are Florida residents will receive preference in employment and are encouraged to apply. However, applicants claiming Veterans’ Preference must attach supporting documentation with each application submission that includes character of service (for example, DD Form 214 Member Copy #4) along with documentation as required by Rule 55A-7, Florida Administrative Code. All documentation is due by the closing date of the vacancy announcement. Documentation is based on the type of veteran preference claim. For information on the supporting documentation required, click here. Applicants may fax their supporting documentation to People First at 1-888-403-2110.

The Department of Transportation supports a Drug-Free workplace. All employees are subject to reasonable suspicion drug testing in accordance with Section 112.0455, F.S., Drug-Free Workplace Act.

The Department of Transportation is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Employer and does not tolerate discrimination or violence in the workplace.

7 Tips for Preparing Effective State Applications – Click here to learn how to prepare your State of Florida Application to showcase your knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience. 

 

[Media Advisory] Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Systems Planning Office has published a new handbook titled Traffic Analysis Handbook – A Reference for Planning and Operations (March 2014) to streamline the review process for accepting and approving traffic analysis reports.

The purpose of the handbook is to provide guidelines on different levels of traffic analysis (such as generalized planning, preliminary engineering, design, and operation analyses) that are conducted on the State Highway System. The information contained in the handbook when used and adapted to site specific conditions would not only  streamline proper selection and application of appropriate approach and tools but also improve consistency and effectiveness of the traffic analysis process. Additionally, the handbook is expected to improve documentation and transparency of the assumptions, input values, calibration and outputs from traffic analyses.

The handbook guides the analysts to items that need to be included in the traffic analysis component of the project development. Additionally, the handbook guides the reviewer and decision maker to items that need to be checked and verified before accepting or approving the report.

The handbook is available online in the Systems Planning Office website or can be downloaded by clicking here. The first informational webinar about this handbook will be conducted on May 8, 2014.

For more information please contact Jennifer Fortunas at Jennifer.fortunas@dot.state.fl.us or 850-414-4909.

###

 

Port-of-Miami-Lecture-Evite2

 

[Public Notice with particular import to residents of MiMo, Upper Eastside, Edgewater, Midtown, Omni areas] FDOT to Host Public Meeting for Roadway Project State Road (SR) 5/Biscayne Boulevard Miami — The Florida Department of Transportation District Six (FDOT) will hold a public information meeting for a roadway project along SR 5/Biscayne Boulevard from NE 13 Street to NE 78 Street.

The public information meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at Unity on the Bay, 411 NE 21 Street, Miami, FL 33137. Attendees may arrive at any time from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Graphic displays of the project will be shown and FDOT staff will be on hand to discuss the project and answer questions after the presentation.

The proposed work for this project includes:

  • Installing five new mid-block pedestrian crossings at:
  1. NE 16 Street
  2. Between NE 23 Street and NE 24 Street
  3. Between NE 30 Street to NE 31 Street
  4. NE 32 Street
  5. NE 74 Street
  • Installing pedestrian signals at the existing signals of NE 15 Street and NE 17 Street
  • Installing a pedestrian crossing at the intersection of NE 54 Street
  • Installing a raised landscaping median at various locations which include:
  1.  NE 59 Street
  2.  NE 66 Street
  3.  NE 67 Street
  4.  NE 70 Street
  • Upgrading pedestrian curb ramps and signals to current standards at various locations Construction is expected to begin in June 2015 and last about four months.

The estimated construction cost of the project is $780,000.  Please contact Public Information Specialist Sandra Bello if you have any questions about this project at (305) 470-5349 or email at sandra.bello@dot.state.fl.us.

FDOT encourages public participation without regard to race, color, national origin, age, gender, religion, disability or family status. Persons who need special assistance under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or who need translation services (free of charge) should contact, Brian Rick at (305) 470-5349 or in writing at FDOT, 1000 NW 111 Avenue, Miami, FL 33172 or by email at: brian.rick@dot.state.fl.us at least seven days prior to the public meeting. www.dot.state.fl.us

Consistent, Predictable, Repeatable

www.dot.state.fl.us February 4, 2014 Maribel Lena, (305) 470-5349; maribel.lena@dot.state.fl.us

 

On Monday, February 3rd 2014, The City of Miami Beach is launching a new free trolley bus that serves Alton Rd and West Ave between 5th St. and Lincoln Rd. The purpose of this trolley is “to help you get to Alton Rd and West Ave businesses” during the FDOT construction project of the same streets.  The Alton/West Loop trolleys will travel from 5 Street to Lincoln Road, along Alton Road and West Avenue, with 21 stops along the way.

TROLLEY ROUTE

The service will run approximately every 10 minutes from 8 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Sunday. The trolley has a capacity of 25 passengers and has an external bike rack and free Wi-Fi (coming soon). In addition to the free trolley, the City is providing Free Four-Hour Parking at Fifth & Alton Garage with the Trolley Voucher.

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While I am not usually one to criticize public transportation projects, especially FREE ones of any sort, I do have some concerns about this particular trolley. Since the goal is to get people to shop at Alton Rd/West Ave businesses, the City seems to have assumed that the reason people are currently staying away from this area is because there is not sufficient parking available. However, this is, at least for me, not at all the reason I do not shop on Alton Road. I thought I would enlighten the City with my TOP 5 REASONS I’M NOT SHOPPING ON ALTON RD RIGHT NOW (and won’t even if the City sends me a free limo).

1. It is more scenic to walk in the trash dumpster alley between West and Alton than on Alton Rd.

Alton Rd is just plain ugly right now. It has always been ugly but now it’s uglier than ever. It’s just not a pleasant walk looking at all those construction signs and the torn up road. Why would I sit in a coffee shop on Alton, looking at a ripped-up street if I can enjoy a coffee on pleasant, pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Rd just a few blocks away? I guess I am not the only one to think this way since the local Latin cafeteria next to my building on Alton Rd recently closed shop.

Miami Beach's main drag isn't quite as scenic as NY's 5th Ave or the Champs Elysees.

Miami Beach’s main drag isn’t quite as stunning as NY’s 5th Ave or the Champs Elysees.

Nice and quiet! No traffic! No one is speeding! I'll walk right here.

Nice and quiet! No traffic! No one is speeding! I’ll walk right here.

2. It isn’t safe to be on West and Alton or Alton Rd.

I would rather not die like this. And you?

Just another accident on West Ave, the second in this very spot since the construction began

Just another accident on West Ave, the second in this very spot since the construction began

3. I’d rather not subject my lungs to breathing in the combined exhaust of 10,000 cars.

Yep, it looks like that around here lately. A lot.

Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

4. The traffic lights suck for pedestrians.

Wait, I have to wait 3 minutes for the light to turn green for me, and then I get 22 second to spurt across the street? Nah, that sucks. I don’t even know how someone without my athletic abilities will achieve this (elderly, handicapped…). Pedestrians are really made to feel like second-class citizens with this kind of treatment. That’s why so many of them simply disrespect the lights and decide to cross anyway.

Fed up with waiting for a light that never changed.

Fed up with waiting for a light that never changed.

5. There is no bicycle infrastructure on Alton Rd/West Ave

So, as you can see from above, it’s kind of impossible, or really annoying, to be around Alton Rd by foot right now and since driving is not an option right now, there is really only one other alternative. Biking. Needless to say, the treatment for cyclists is even worse than the one for pedestrians since there is simply no infrastructure at all. No bike lane, no bike parking, not even a cutesie sharrow (I say cute because I like the little bike paintings on the street but consider them completely ineffective – but that’s another topic).

So instead of showing you a really great bike lane on Alton Rd, since there is none, I’ll show you one of the Ciclovia held in Bogota, a weekly event where the main street in Bogota is entirely shut down to traffic. This event is a huge success and is attended by thousands of people walking, biking, scooting, and running through downtown Bogota. It seemed to work real well for the local businesses to, as it is held on a Sunday morning which would otherwise not generate such a large crowd. As it turned out, to get people to downtown, no free trolley busses had to be installed by the city. People say Miami is South America – I can only hope this will be true one day.

Ciclovia in Bogota

Ciclovia in Bogota

Having said that, I still love to shop on Lincoln Rd so I will from now on refer to this trolley as the free Lincoln Rd shuttle. I’m sure tourists will be delighted they have a free connection between Ross and Lincoln Rd now. And of course, the homeless will be grateful for an air-conditioned place to rest their weary bones. However, I’m not sure it’ll do anything at all for those businesses suffering along on Alton Rd.

So long, little Lincoln Rd shuttle.

So long, little Lincoln Rd shuttle. The tourists will love you. The locals, not so sure.

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Five years after moving to Miami to start working at UM, it is a good time for a quick recap: the good and the bad. And while what happens (and crucially: doesn’t happen) on the Rickenbacker Causeway is important, it is symptomatic of much larger systemic issues in the area.

The Good

Let’s start with some of the good developments. They are easier to deal with as unfortunately they aren’t that numerous. Miami-Dade Transit has – despite some questionable leadership decisions and pretty awful security contractors – put into place some important projects such as a decent public transit connection from MIA and while the user experience leaves a number of things to be desired, it generally works; so do TriRail and the express buses to Broward and elsewhere; a number of cities have local trolley systems and while not a great solution in some places, it’s a start; Miami Beach has DecoBike and it seems that it is being used widely – and the service is slated to come to the City of Miami some time in 2014; Miami is finally becoming a city, albeit an adolescent one with a core that, while still dominated by car traffic, is more amenable to foot and bike traffic than it was five years ago (and there are plans for improvement); and at least there is now a debate about the value of transportation modes that do not involve cars only.

The Bad

Yet at the same time, it seems like Miami still suffers from a perfect storm of lack of leadership, vision and long-term planning, competing jurisdictions which makes for easy finger-pointing when something goes wrong, civic complacency and the pursuance of self-interest. Add to that a general disregard for cyclists, pedestrians and those taking public transit. All of this leaves the area as one of the most dangerous places to bike and walk in the country. And instead of actively working towards increasing the safety of those – in an area where many drivers are behaving in a dangerous manner – that do not have the protection of the exoskeleton of 4000 lbs of steel or aluminum, infrastructure is being built without regard for the most vulnerable.

impact-of-speed2 (1)

Poor Leadership and Lack of Political Will

At the top of the list is the rampant lack of genuine support for the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians as well as public transit. The area remains mired in car-centric planning and mindset. While other places have grasped the potential for improving the lives of people with walkable urban environments, we live in an area whose civic and political leadership does not appear to even begin to understand this value (and whose leadership likely doesn’t take public transit).

This starts with a mayor and a county commission (with some exceptions) whose mindset continues to be enamored with “development” (i.e. building housing as well as moving further and further west instead of filling in existing space, putting more and more strain on the existing infrastructure). How about building a viable public transit system on the basis of plans that have existed for years, connecting the western suburbs with the downtown core? How about finally linking Miami Beach to the mainland via a light rail system? How about build a similar system up the Biscayne corridor or, since the commission is so enamored with westwards expansion, connect the FIU campus or other areas out west? And while we’re at it, let’s do away with dreamy projects in lieu of achievable ones? Instead of trying to build the greatest this or greatest that (with public money no less), one could aim for solidity. What we get is a long overdue spur (calling it a line is pushing it) to the airport with no chance of westwards expansion.

Few of the cities do much better and indeed Miami consistently ranks among the worst-run cities in the country (easy enough when many city residents are apathetic in the face of dysfunctional city government or only have a domicile in Miami, but don’t actually live here). When the standard answer of the chief of staff of a City of Miami commissioner is that “the people in that street don’t want it” when asked about the installation of traffic calming devices that would benefit many people in the surrounding area, it shows that NIMBYism is alive and kicking, that there is no leadership and little hope that genuine change is coming.

Car-Centric, Not People-Centric, Road Design

One of the most egregious culprits is the local FDOT district, headed by Gus Pego. While the central office in Tallahassee and some of the other districts seem to finally have arrived in the 21st century, FDOT District 6 (Miami-Dade and Monroe counties) has a steep learning curve ahead and behaves like an institution that is responsible for motor vehicles rather than modern transportation. Examples include the blatant disregard of Florida’s legislation concerning the concept of “complete streets” (as is the case in its current SW 1st Street project where parking seems more important to FDOT than the safety of pedestrians or cyclists – it has no mandate for the former, but certainly for the latter) or its continued refusal to lower the speed limits on the roads it is responsible for, especially when they are heavily frequented by cyclists and pedestrians. All of this is embodied in its suggestion that cyclists shouldn’t travel the roads the district constructs. According to their own staff, they are too dangerous.

The county’s public works department – with some notable exceptions – is by and large still stuck in a mindset of car-centricism and does not have the political cover to make real improvements to the infrastructure. Roads are still constructed or reconstructed with wide lanes and with the goal of moving cars at high speeds as opposed to creating a safe environment for all participants. Yes, that may mean a decrease in the “level of service”, but maybe the lives and the well-being of fellow humans is more important than getting to one’s destination a minute more quickly (and if you have decided to move far away from where you work, that’s just a factor to consider). The most well-known example is the Rickenbacker Causeway which still resembles a highway after three people on bicycles were killed in the last five years and where speeding is normal, despite numerous assurances from the political and the administrative levels that safety would actually increase. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make things much better and that is all that has happened so far. But even on a small scale things don’t work out well. When it takes Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami months to simply install a crosswalk in a residential street (and one entity is responsible for the sidewalk construction, while the other does the actual crosswalk) and something is done only after much intervention and many, many meetings, it is little wonder that so little gets done.

(Almost) Zero Traffic Enforcement

It continues with police departments that enforce the rules of the road selectively and haphazardly at best, and at least sometimes one has the very clear impression that pedestrians and cyclists are considered a nuisance rather than an equal participant in traffic. Complaints about drivers are routinely shrugged off, requests for information are rarely fulfilled and in various instances police officers appear unwilling to give citations to drivers who have caused cyclists to crash (and would much rather assist in an exchange of money between driver and victim, as was recently the case).

The above really should be the bare minimum. What is really required – given the dire situation – is for public institutions to be proactive. But short of people kicking and screaming, it does not appear that those in power want to improve the lives and well-being of the people that they technically serve. I view this issue as an atmospheric problem, one that cannot easily be remedied by concrete action, but rather one that requires a mindset change. A good starting point: instead of trying to be “the best” or “the greatest” at whatever new “projects” people dream up (another tall “luxury” tower, nicest parking garage [is that what we should be proud of, really?], let’s just try not to be among the worst. But that would require leadership. The lack thereof on the county and the municipal level (FDOT personnel is not elected and at any rate, is in a league of their own when it comes to being tone-deaf) means that more people need to kick and scream to get something done (in addition to walking and biking more). Whether this is done through existing groups or projects like the Aaron Cohen initiative (full disclosure: I am part of the effort) is immaterial. But if there is to be real improvement, a lot more people need to get involved.

 

A Transit Miami shout-out to the Village of Miami Shores and the Miami Shores Police Department. Everyday should be bike to school day if only the County and the FDOT could get their act together and design streets that are safe for children to ride on.  Unfortunately, they only way to ride safely is with a police escort.

 

 

FDOT Collins

When the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that they were simultaneously performing major road work on Miami Beach’s two main thoroughfares, Collins Ave and Alton Road, most beach residents shook their heads in disbelief. Was it really wise to shut down half of Collins Ave from summer 2013 – 2014 (1 year) and also detour all of Alton Road’s southbound traffic to West Ave during the same time and beyond (2013 – 2015)? After all, these are the main roads that allow tourists, trucks, busses, and locals to navigate Miami Beach from it’s Southern tip towards the Middle and North areas. Not to mention, there are major events happening during the winter months, from Art Basel, South Beach Wine and Food Festival, the Boat Show to NYE, something is always happening that requires people to, well, drive to the beach since there is no public transportation to Miami Beach to speak of. Some locals worried about a “carmaggedon” and started pressuring the city government and FDOT to provide some better alternatives for those who need to get in and out of Miami Beach.

Little did those worriers know about FDOT’s master scheme. You see, FDOT is not simply blind to the traffic gridlock that hit Miami Beach since the construction started. Neither are FDOT’s engineers and project managers insensitive to local’s concerns over pollution and congestion. In fact, FDOT is simply helping us out by finally providing ample parking spaces that were badly needed. Everyone knows that parking in Miami Beach is a mess. Now, you no longer need to hunt around the beach looking for that elusive spot, only to find that it’s in a Tow Away Zone (don’t mess with Beach Towing). Simply drive to Miami Beach, and conventiently park your car right on West Ave.

FDOT West Ave

Convenient Parking right on Miami Beach thanks to FDOT

FDOT West Ave

Safe during day and night, just park and go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From here, you can explore the area, dine in one of our neighborhood restaurants, and take a pleasant walk (don’t mind the smell of exhausts, or do like Sarah Palin and learn to simply love the smell of it).

If you like, you could also park right on Venetian Causeway (as mentioned in yesterday’s post), this comes in handy during those busy weekends when you just cannot wait to get to your event and simply need to park right away.

FDOT Miami Beach

Ample Parking on the Venetian Causeway

The great thing is that your car will be in the exact same spot even hours later.

Best of all? The parking is completely FREE of charge! (Residents agreed to chip in a bit by putting up with a the extra noise and pollution, but what is that compared to FREE PARKING in Miami Beach??)

Isn’t that something to be grateful for? Little by little, FDOT is not only fixing our streets, but is also addressing our parking problem without the need to hire any starchitects at all, just using our existing, previously underused, streetscape. Now, if that was not a stroke of genius, I don’t know what is. Thank You, FDOT!

 

Although no pedestrians have died or been critically injured on the Brickell Avenue “Death Curve”, it’s just a matter of time before someone is.  These pictures and commentary come via a Transit Miami reader. The crash happened several weeks ago. I’ve lost count on the number of crashes that have occurred here, but there have been at least 7 crashes in the past 4 three and a half years.

“Yet another one last night or early today. The new streetlight in front of Echo site was hit straight on and is very damaged, also lots of smaller car parts littered immediate area today.

Also there was one large fender piece in median in front of St Jude’s

PS: as of last night that light pole does NOT work, so corner is now dark”

 

122013_14191

 

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

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

 

In a city where nearly everyone and everything is from somewhere else, inequality is Miami’s most native son. Like sunshine and sex appeal, inequality is stuffed into every corner of this city. We make little effort to hide it or avoid it, and in the case of one advertising campaign we even flaunt it. Along Southwest 2nd Avenue in Brickell, there’s a bus stop advertisement for Miami’s latest luxury development touting “Unfair Housing,” a play on the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discriminatory housing practices in the United States*.

Photo credit: Jordan Nassar

Photo credit: Jordan Nassar

But this bus stop ad isn’t the only evidence of the gaps dividing our city; there’s the bus stop itself. It can be dirty and overcrowded, just like the buses themselves, which also run late, if they ever come at all. The sidewalks on blocks around the stop are narrow and they’re often obstructed either temporarily by construction or permanently by signage and utilities. It is the typical second-class experience of pedestrians and transit riders around the United States that results from minimal public investment in any form of transportation infrastructure that does not cater to cars.

This is a common condition around the world, and in a few cities it has received the attention that it deserves: as an inequality so flagrant that it offends our notions of democracy. In Bogotá, former mayor Enrique Peñalosa made this idea of transportation as a matter of democracy central to his governing philosophy. “If all citizens are equal before the Law,” Peñalosa is fond of saying, “then a citizen on a $30 bicycle has the same right to safe mobility as one in a $30,000 car, and a bus with 100 passengers has a right to 100 times more road space than a car with one.” Gil Peñalosa, who is Enrique’s brother and former Commissioner of Parks, Sport, and Recreation in Bogotá and is now Executive Director of Toronto-based 8-80 Cities, recently wrote, “Bus lanes are a right and a symbol of equality.” In Copenhagen, Mikael Colville-Andersen, photographer and founder of Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Copenhagenize, has argued that, “we have to re-democratize the bicycle.” In order words, we must recast cycling from a niche subculture for environmentalists and fitness buffs to a viable form of transportation for all citizens who value it because, as Colville-Andersen stresses, “it’s quick and easy.” Since the early 1990s, Vienna has embraced “gender mainstreaming,” the practice of ensuring that public works projects, including transportation, benefit men and women equally.

Carrera 15 in Bogotá before Peñalosa (left) and after Peñalosa (right)

Carrera 15 in Bogotá before Peñalosa (left) and after Peñalosa (right)

At its core, government by representative democracy, our chosen form, demands that our leaders pass laws and set policies based on the wishes, opinions, and needs of the citizens without sacrificing what Edmund Burke called their “enlightened conscience.” In other words, our leaders must govern in accordance with the will of the majority, the rights of the minorities, and their own judgment informed by their position as a representative of all citizens. When we examine the transportation policies under which we live, we can observe simply and clearly that Miami is not a transportation democracy.

In a transportation democracy, governed by notions of equality, resources are allocated so that all citizens no matter their form of transportation have equal access to safe, effective, dignified mobility. How we travel between point A and point B is a question as critical as any other to the functioning of society and how we answer that question speaks volumes about what we value and whose voice is heard.

Transportation resources are not allocated equally in Miami. Federal, state, and local funding for transportation projects in Miami-Dade County, aviation and port activity excluded, totaled roughly $1.7 billion during the 2011-2012 fiscal year**.  Of that amount, over sixty percent went to road, highway, and parking infrastructure. The remaining minority is split between sidewalks, buses, trains, bike lanes and racks, and other pedestrian and intermodal infrastructure.

It’s a grossly unequal distribution in light of how citizens travel in practice. Twenty percent of Miami-Dade residents are not eligible to drive based on age. Another 20 percent of residents age 18 and over live in poverty, making car ownership an impractical financial burden. Of Miami-Dade’s more than one million workers, eleven percent commutes to work by bus, train, bike, or on foot. Still another six percent have ambulatory disabilities that require use of a wheelchair, walker, or other assistive device. Surely there is some overlap among these and still other groups, but the lesson is that in excess of fifty percent of Miami-Dade residents have no or minimal direct need for or access to an automobile; yet the vast majority of our transportation spending at all levels of government goes to automobile infrastructure. Add to these totals the vast numbers of Miamians, both older and younger, who drive out of necessity but who would prefer to travel by transit, bike, or foot, and the balance of transportation spending becomes even more unequally skewed in favor of a privileged minority***.

We may not typically frame it this way, but what we have here in Miami with respect to our transportation is another instance of inequality, a failure of our democracy. This is a concern larger than the cleanliness of our buses or the scarcity of bike lanes. This is an example of a majority facing alienation and segregation to such a degree that they appear the minority; and this manufactured invisibility is used to justify vast, unequal expenditures in favor of a privileged class. If we are to reclaim our transportation democracy, we must begin with an honest discussion about how our citizens travel around our city; we must push back against an approach to transportation that adequately serves so few of us; and we must, as they’ve done in Bogotá, Copenhagen and Vienna, recognize transportation as an issue that extends deep into the heart of our democracy. Only then can we ensure that all voices are heard, all wishes considered, all rights protected, all interests acknowledged. It is a prerequisite to providing safe, effective, dignified transportation options to all and to staying true to our most inherent values of government. Only then can we ensure that Miami becomes a transportation democracy.

*The campaign has been successful, though; the development is nearly sold out before it has even broken ground.

**This is a rough estimate that includes budget figures from USDOT, FDOT, MDX, MDT, and 35 municipal governments, among others. Unsurprisingly, some figures are easier to come by and interpret than others.

***It is also worth noting the increases in housing prices that developers must charge to subsidize minimum parking requirements.

 

 

Dear Transit Miami  -

I was scratching around some MIC and Miami Central Station documents and came upon a curious piece of information: FDOT is negotiating with MDX to assume the governance of Miami Central Station. I find it curious that MDX, a road-building entity, would be charged with governing Miami Central Station – shouldn’t those responsibilities fall to Miami-Dade Transit or, given the regional implications, to SFRTA? I can see MDX running the Car Rental Center, after all  it’s sole purpose is to feed tourists onto MDX’s adjacent highways, the 112 and 836 – undermining the metrorail link to the airport and any longer-term plans for a direct rapid transit link to Miami Beach, but Central Station? Give me a break!

What’s most curious about the arrangement between FDOT and MDX is the transfer of a an 8 acre property east of Central Station for “Joint Development.” I didn’t realize MDX was now looking to jump into Miami’s crowded development market. Doesn’t this parcel seem ripe for Transit-Oriented Development? Shouldn’t a Public Private Partnership be the first alternative? I think so. MDX will apparently develop the property to help “offset” the costs of operating Central Station (as if their toll revenue couldn’t be spared in the first place) and will include a possible mix of Hotel, Conference Center, Office, Retail, oh – and parking, of course. 

Let’s not forget too that MDX had developed concepts for a future SR 836/ SR 112 connector and had floated the idea of a “Central Corridor” Highway that would be built above Tri-Rail.

Best,

Another Concerned Citizen against MDX’s Overreaches  

 

The City of Miami will be voting today on Resolution #13-00581.

This resolution would formalize the transfer of Brickell Avenue — arguably the most economically important thoroughfare in Miami — from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to the City of Miami, from the State to the City.

This resolution would also formalize the transfer of a handful of streets in the Historic Downtown District of Miami from the City of Miami to FDOT, from the City to the State.

Under whose jurisdiction do Miami’s downtown streets belong?

Your voice matters! Cast your vote!

online poll by Opinion Stage

 

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