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Driver hit cyclists from behind.  Notice the windshield. How fast was the driver going?

Driver hit cyclists from behind. Notice the windshield. How fast was the driver going?

I’m really tired of writing this same old story. On Friday morning another cyclist was critically injured on Bear Cut Bridge, the very same bridge where Chistopher Lecanne was killed nearly 4 years ago when a driver hit him from behind.

Crashes like these are preventable if only our elected officials could get their act together and address the public safety crisis that is happening in front of their very own eyes.

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The Rickenbacker Causeway is a microcosm for the greater ills of the county. Case in point: In the past 7 years at least 3 cyclists have been killed and countless other have been critically injured, yet the existing conditions on the Rickenbacker Causeway are getting more dangerous (i.e. Bear Cut Bridge), not safer.  Virtually nothing has been done to make the Rickenbacker less dangerous.  How many people need to die before something is done?

Miami Dade County is the 3rd most dangerous metropolitan area in the country for pedestrian and cyclists, yet our elected officials are dragging their feet when it comes to making our streets safer.  All I hear is political grandstanding that changes are coming and in the meantime pedestrians and cyclists continue to be slaughtered on our streets. The entire situation is disgraceful and shameful and collectively Miami Dade County elected officials need to be held accountable.

Click here to send an email to all of our County Commissioners and Mayor Gimenez and let them know what an awful job they are doing when it comes to pedestrian and cyclist safety throughout the County.  This is not just a Rickenbacker Causeway issue, this is a county wide problem that has turned into a public safety crises.

The situation has reached a point that is beyond embarrassing.
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Via DawnTown

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Recently, City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado declared March as Miami Bike Month. And why shouldn’t it?  Did you see the latest gathering this past Friday for Critical Mass?  Hundreds of people, including celebrity cyclists and NBA megastars Dwyane Wade and Lebron James, were in attendance for a 13 mile trek around Miami.  Cycling has become the latest “thing” in Miami.  However, it could be more than just a monthly ride.  Why not see cycling as a serious solution to the traffic congestion problems in and out of the city?  Cities like Amsterdam and Chicago seem to think of it as a real solution.  It doesn’t have to just be about bikes either, car sharing has become a major business as well and could also assist with making our streets safer.  What if there was a place in Miami, built infrastructure that helped promote these solutions?  Well there could be…..that’s where DawnTown needs your help.

 

We are officially launching our new architecture ideas competition for 2014, called Alternative Mobilities.  The competition is open to professionals and students of architecture and other design fields to come up with a new type of transportation hub. One that acts as a generator for new ways to move around downtown in a more sustainable fashion.

 

Included here is our competition brief:
Alternative Mobilities Competition Brief – FINAL

 

This time we around we are instituting a registration fee. Why you ask?  Many of you have alerted us that printing, mounting on foam core, and shipping your competition boards have cost you $100 to $150!  Instead, we’ve decided to reduce the amount of printed material by asking you only submit your projects digitally.  The fee allows us to do the printing for you.  It’s all explained in the brief above.
Currently, the registration fees are as follows:

 

EARLY BIRD………$25.00 US     (Register before March 27th)
REGULAR REGISTRATION……….$40.00 US  (After March 27th)

 

Act soon and take advantage of our early bird registration.  In order to do so visit our Eventbrite page:  https://dawntownmiami.eventbrite.com

 

GOOD LUCK!

 

 

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.

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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.

 

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This article was originally published on ULI’s website.  It’s worth mentioning that not one elected official in Miami attended this event. I personally sent out invitations twice to all of Miami’s elected officials.  I know others also sent invitations to them as well.

Once again the private sector is leading the public sector and clearly there is no leadership in Miami when is comes to this very important issue. The disconnect is pretty sad and not encouraging for Miami’s future.

“Can Miami Develop with Less Parking?” panel discussion organized by our ULI Young Leaders Group and held at FIU’s Hollo School of Real Estate in Downtown Miami was an overwhelming success with a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 real estate and industry professionals.

The event was moderated by outgoing ULI Young Leaders Chair Andrew Frey and the panel comprised of development and parking experts including: Bernardo Fort-Brescia, FAIA, Principal, Arquitectonica; Joseph Furst, Managing Director Wynwood, Goldman Properties;Harvey Hernandez, Chairman & Managing Director, Newgard Development Group; and Dr. Ruth L. Steiner, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida.

A number of exciting issues were discussed throughout the morning that varied from easing the criteria to allow greater access to the City’s shared parking credit, to replacing the required parking minimum with a parking maximum, even a recommendation to do away with parking requirements altogether and allow the market to decide. Some of the more dynamic discussion surrounded the suggestion that current minimum parking requirements have had unintended consequences on development such as:

  • encouraging developers to build larger, more expensive multi-bedroom units in order to make the cost of parking feasible (same number of parking spaces required per unit regardless of number of bedrooms)
  • discouraging development of small urban infill sites by necessitating assemblage of parcels and construction of larger buildings (parking ramps and circulation can only be accommodated within a certain minimum building/site footprint)
  • codifying for too many, underutilized parking spaces by requiring spaces at workplaces, residences and commercial areas (even with the shared parking credit this leaves many empty spaces at different times throughout the day and night).

Overall it was a lively conversation that addressed the question, “Can Miami develop with less parking?” According to the panel, the answer is a qualified, “yes”. How much less parking? That’s a topic for the next panel.

 

 

“To enter out into that silence that was the city at eight o’clock of a misty evening in November, to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences…”

In 1951, author Ray Bradbury wrote a short story titled The Pedestrian. Set in 2053, the story’s protagonist is Leonard Mead, a man who walks alone at night, seemingly for the pure joy of it. He never meets anyone else on these nocturnal walks. His neighbors are all inside – watching television. In fact, so few people are ever out in the public realm that the city’s police force had been reduced to a single car. The act of walking in a place where no one else ever walks is viewed as suspicious by the local authorities, who stop, question, and arrest him, incredulous to his explanation that he simply likes to walk. “Walking for air, walking to see,” as Mead puts it.

Bradbury of course is best known for his fantasy stories and science fiction. But as it turns out, Bradbury’s dystopian vision was not so farfetched; imagining a country where something as innocuous as walking someplace could be viewed as suspicious, as it typically is in today’s gated ‘chemlawn hinterlands’ of suburban sprawl. To not have an automobile in such environments is to exist as a societal outcast worthy of suspicion. So what do Trayvon Martin and Leonard Mead have in common? Was the built environment of gated suburbia (and gated mindset) a factor in the tragedy? To me, both Martin and Mead represent the criminalization and stigma of walking; of being a pedestrian.

Roger Steutville from Better Cities and Towns weighed in and pondered the same:

“In all of this agitation, the physical environment that discriminates against, and focuses suspicion on, anyone who doesn’t drive should not be forgotten. It’s hard to imagine this kind of tragedy playing out today in the same way on the block of a walkable city or town.”

In Bradbudy’s Pedestrian, substitute ‘Leonard Mead’ for Trayvon Martin and the year 2012 instead of 2053. The eerie similarities to that fateful evening last February in Sanford are uncanny.

He turned back on a side street, circling around toward his home. He was within a block of his destination when the lone car turned a corner quite suddenly and flashed a fierce white cone of light upon him. He stood entranced, not unlike a night moth, stunned by the illumination, and then drawn toward it. A metallic voice called to him: ”Stand still. Stay where you are! Don’t move!”

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Stop for PedestriansIf you think walking and biking in Miami is risky, dangerous, and perhaps even a bit of a suicide mission…then you can probably imagine what it would be like to navigate our nightmarish streets with a baby in a stroller in tow. Oh!, you exclaim, certainly our famously rude drivers would change their nutty ways at the sight of a cute little one peeping out of it’s carriage, right? Sure, they may not stop for a regular annoying pedestrian who is waiting to cross a “STOP for pedestrians – It’s the Law” intersection … but they must stop for a baby!

Well, in short: Nope. After having high hopes for my pedestrian future with a newborn, picturing polite drivers waving me across the street, I have had a rude awakening that stroller or not…to Miami drivers, I’m still just an annoying pedestrian not really worth stopping or even slowing down for. It’s become a nearly perverse enjoyment for me to stare down drivers at a marked intersection, looking right into their faces, brandishing the baby in front of me as if to say – what’s it going to be? Your car, or our lives? Who has the stronger will, who will give up first? Will you stop, or will I step out of your way to let you speed by on your extremely important mission to reach the next (red) stoplight 1 block down the road?

Unfortunately, it’s not just Miami’s drivers who make walking with a stroller a bit of a risky proposition in this town. Check out this sidewalk on Venetian Causeway, and answer me this question: in which side do you pass with a stroller? (Hint: there is no correct answer. There is no way to pass with a stroller here as the sidewalk is too narrow at all openings).

Let’s say you somehow manage to navigate past this obstacle and  made it onto Venetian Causeway. Here is the next nerve-tingling adventure awaiting you on the bridge. Please have a look at this sidewalk.

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Now, you better focus! Because just 1 little step in the wrong direction…perhaps during a moment of sightseeing while a mega luxury yacht cruises by…and your stroller is off of that tiny little sidewalk, on the road, which is very heavily traveled by cars flying by at high speed…not a nice thought at all! Oh, and if some unlucky other mom wants to pass you by here with her stroller? Let’s just say that is Mission Impossible Miami style.

Too bad the Venetian Causeway Toll cash cannot be used to make this road with it’s pleasant sea breeze and breath-taking views more accessible to non-motorized, stroller-rized traffic.

 

The following is an urgent update by Brickell resident Mark Batey on the crash that killed a pedestrian in Brickell on March 23rd. This crash happened in nearly the same exact spot where a female jogger was seriously injured on the sidewalk by a speeding driver in October.

“Miamians, please share this update. 4 weeks ago Ana Mares was killed in a hit and run in Brickell Bay Drive. I have been in touch with her sister, who is becoming desperate at the lack of progress in this case. Her family is beginning to receive the medical bills, which are huge, and apparently the person whose car hit Ana has no insurance.

Univision 23 released this video with new information. (Spanish)

The owner of the vehicle is named as Joy Terry Lee Clayton. She lives at 21455 87 court SW Miami Dade, and works at the legal department of University of Miami. She has got a lawyer and is saying that although the car that hit Ana is hers, she was not driving it herself!

Ana Mares was hit with such force that she was thrown 65 feet. Her sister is convinced she was already dead at the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, the person who did this is still driving around the streets of Miami.

The black Mazda shown in the video is apparently not the actual one that hit Ana. The one that hit Ana has some lighter colored panels (either for effect, or because work was being done on the car).
If you have any information, the lead detective can be contacted at joseph.kennedy@miami-police.org

Please share and let’s help get justice for Ana, who, by the way, was a cancer survivor.

Editors Note: We’ve been appalled at the lack of media coverage or official police, city, or elected official communication in response to this fatal crash. Brickell is the densest residential neighborhood south of New York City. This senseless death has not been given the attention it deserves. It’s reasonable to believe there were more witnesses that would come forward. Meanwhile, this criminal is still on the lose, driving around Miami. Please contact the Miami detective above if you have any information.

This just reinforces our call for Brickell Bay Drive to be given a ‘road diet’ to reduce the travel lanes to 2, and including a buffered bicycle lane with on-street curbside parking. This would dramatically improve safety conditions for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists while having minimal impact on vehicle traffic flow. In other words, make Brickell Bay Drive a Complete Street to better accommodate all users of this road. Brickell has undergone a transformation but our streets are still stuck in the past, making merely going about your daily business a dangerous endeavor. Our suggested reconfiguration of Brickell Bay Drive can be done with a few cans of paint – seems worth it for a road with such an atrocious safety record lately.

Also, please sign on to the “Stay on the Scene” initiative to strengthen Florida’s hit and run laws in response to the crash that killed cyclist Aaron Cohen on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

UPDATE May 3: The Miami Herald and CBS Miami are now reporting on the latest developments.

 

We often hear that Miami is becoming a world-class city, but the sad truth is that Magic City is quickly becoming the country’s first gated city. What’s even worse is our elected officials are championing and using public funds to build walls and fences along the public right-of way, reducing mobility options for the general public and dividing communities in a futile attempt to reduce crime.  This type of reactive urban planning is being used by elected officials to appease their constituents, but the truth is there is no evidence that gated communities are any safer than non-gated communities.

Meanwhile, Miami has one of lowest police–to-residents ratios of any major city in the United States.  I’ve lost count, but we’ve had at least 2 or 3 police chiefs in the last four years.  The city has failed to provide enough officers to patrol the streets of Miami and now the city is scrambling to add 33 officers to the police force this year.

A few years ago, the city coughed up about $1,700,000 to build a wall for the Coral Gate community.  Here are the pictures of our elected officials celebrating their ugly tax-payer funded wall.  What’s even worse is that these pictures are posted on the city of Miami’s website as if this is something to be proud of; it’s not. Quite frankly, it is an embarrassment. A world-class city should not support gated communities, much less pay for them.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of. Especially when the city foots the bill.

About 6 months ago Commissioner Sarnoff ponied up another $50,000 for Belle Meade to build a fence. See for yourselves how ridiculous and infective this fence is:

Now Morningside residents are considering a fence around the perimeter of their neighborhood as well. No word yet if the city will pay for Morningside’s fence too.

No elected official should be proud of this piecemeal ineffective urban planning strategy.  Quite the contrary, the city should not even allow walls or fences to be built.  I’m not sure why the city’s Planning Department allows this to happen.

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What do you love or hate about Miami? That’s what The Miami Herald and WLRN want to know, recently announcing a call for Miamians to create a poem about their city – the ‘That’s so Miami’ poetry project.

Poem submissions are published each day on ThatsSoMiami.tumblr.com and some of the best poems will be chosen to be read on the air on WLRN 91.3 FM, South Florida’s NPR news station. They must be under 100 words and begin or end with the phrase ‘That’s so Miami’. You can also submit photos and poems from Instagram and Twitter, respectively, tagged with #ThatsSoMiami to go up on the website as well. Check out all the rules and how to enter your poem here.

Now for my poem…..

A safety crisis hard to ignore
and a part of Miami I really deplore

Is the danger of walking or crossing the street
To merely survive, you must have quick feet.

The pedestrian crisis is very real here
Miami a leader in deaths, year after year.

Because speeding, tailgating and failure to yield
Are normal behaviors behind the windshield.

An embarrassing failure of our local officials
and FDOT, to use their initials

By not providing the streets that are safer for walking
Years of inaction – we only hear talking.

Unhealthy for kids and especially Granny
Our dangerous streets? #ThatsSoMiami.

- Craig Chester

 

The following post comes to us from TransitMiami reader Emily Eisennhauer.  Emily is  a PhD Candidate in the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. She is working on her dissertation titled “The Construction of Socio-Ecological Vulnerability to Climate Change in South Florida”, which is examining how governance networks and residents are thinking about Miami’s future under the threat of climate change, particularly sea level rise. Emily writes her own self-titled blog on the sociology of sustainability and climate change in Southeast Florida, where the following was originally posted.

In the first part of this post I highlighted Census data released last fall which shows that Miami Beach is the 10th city in the nation for biking to work. Approximately 7% of workers regularly use a bicycle for the longest part of their commute. That’s about 3,000 people in our city biking regularly to work, and I was curious – who are they?
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With Miami’s bike scene growing like crazy lately– thousands showing up for Critical Massnew bike facilities in the works for Downtown, etc.– it would be easy to assume that these bicyclists-to-work are bicycle activists, young urban professionals, or the like. But the data indicate something else.
On Miami Beach those most likely to bike to work are service industry workers with median annual earnings of about $21,000 per year, well below the citywide average of $32,597. Here are the top 10 industries:
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While I was at it, I decided to look at those who walk to work too, and found much the same thing. Fifty-three percent of those who walk to their jobs work in accommodation, food service, arts or entertainment, and median annual earnings are $14,622. And while three-quarters of commuters have at least one vehicle available, less than half of those who walk or bike do.
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This isn’t a surprise really, since there are a lot of low paying jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries which dominate Miami Beach’s economy. But it does make Miami Beach unique, especially among walking cities. For walking to work Miami Beach ranks 10th in the nation among cities with at least 65,000 residents, which is especially remarkable because Miami Beach is the highest ranking non-university city on the list. If you take out the places with colleges, we’d be number 1.
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In order to have people walking to work, you need a few things. People have to live close enough to walk, and the streets have to be pedestrian friendly. Miami Beach accomplishes this through preserving the residential, urban character of historic sections of South Beach and North Beach which were built in the early 20th century with walking in mind. Maintaining a supply of housing affordable for those who work in the nearby service industry jobs is more challenging in desirable areas, but the Miami Beach Community Development Corporationhas been able to restore and preserve nearly two dozen buildings since 1981 for affordable housing programs. The organization’s chair, Jack Johnson, said at a recent planning meeting for the upcoming Sustainable and Authentic Florida meeting to be hosted by Miami Beach, that the MBCDC “has worked to maintain a mix of income levels by using historic buildings in their ‘native habitat’.” In doing so it has accomplished a key tenet of New Urbanism that otherwise frequently gets overlooked when it comes to those in low wage jobs.In a very real way the availability of affordable housing in Miami Beach takes cars off the streets, reduces the city’s pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to a better quality of life for everyone.
One other interesting fact: those who walk or bike to work are much more likely to leave home in the evening, anywhere between 4pm and midnight. 21% of walkers and 17% of bicycle/motorcycle/taxicabbers leave for work during that time, compared with only 9% of all commuters. All the more reason for safe, separated, lighted pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians to be part of every infrastructure and transportation plan.

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Your writer is a slight woman, sometimes confused for a minor, who dreams of a South Florida where everyone feels safe crossing the street. Friends, family, and in these videos, my boyfriend, would clearly prefer I keep myself away from traffic. I hate to stress them but – when pro-pedestrian/pro-safety traffic modifications are installed, I just can’t help but try them out.

So, for today’s transit humor (because no one was hurt), here are two videos of myself and my wary significant other, trying (and failing) to cross the street at 48th & Biscayne Blvd.

FDOT: Thank you! It’s an important first step. City of Miami Police: where are you??

Interesting note: Found this Florida attorney’s webpage on ‘Penalties After Violating Pedestrian and Crosswalk Law’:

“If there is a person attempting to cross a road while in a marked crosswalk you are required to stop until the person has cleared the crosswalk. Most crosswalks are marked by painted lines and a yellow sign with an image of a person walking… The rules here are pretty obvious, and most drivers wouldn’t move their vehicles through a crosswalk if a pedestrian was there.”

As the voice asks in Part 1: “They just don’t see the sign, love. They… can’t… possibly…”

This lane marking is approved by the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration and is part of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

 

TransitMiami can’t help but give a great neighborhood bar, The DRB, some unsolicited praise for its ingenious selection of an otherwise neglected downtown office building for its new location.

By choosing to site its new bar in the part of downtown dominated by boring institutional land-uses, The DRB chose to bring some vibrancy and character to an otherwise lifeless part of downtown. The very phrase itself — “lifeless part of downtown” — is an unfortunate contradiction, an oxymoron of a poorly planned urban milieu.

The building in question — situated on NE 5th Street and 1st Ave. — is surrounded almost exclusively by  institutional land-uses (occupied by, e.g., federal courthouses, a community college, a church, etc.) and lots of shamefully vacant and/or completely undeveloped, prime-for-mixed-use-development downtown parcels.

When New Urbanists and other community design-oriented folks refer to the evils of homogeneous land-use configurations, the image most typically invoked is that of miles upon miles of single-family residential land-use. Indeed, monolithic residential land-use embodies the notion of ‘urban sprawl’.

Elected officials, planners, and developers must also recognize, though, that large areas of homogeneous institutional land-use in the downtown core is at least as toxic (if not more so) for our city as sprawling single-family cookie-cutter houses along the periphery.

We need more transit-oriented development (TOD) in Miami’s de facto government-institution district. That area already has a great combination of Metrorail, Metromover, and Metrobus access. We must augment this healthy transportation configuration with a healthier land-use configuration.

And we must certainly continue to push our elected officials to expand the public transit network. However, we must also push them to better incentivize more commercial in-fill near the highly viable sections of public transit we already have, especially in downtown. It’s the hustle and bustle of downtown that build’s a city’s personality.

Kudos to you, Democratic Republic of Beer, for selecting a site so wonderfully accessible by transit, foot, and bicycle. Now all those bureaucrats and college students have a nice neighborhood spot in which to enjoy one of your exotic specialty brews from one of the corners of the globe.

(This author recommends the Sri Lankan Lion Stout.)

We spotted this sign this morning at Miami-Dade College near the Seven50 Summit. What’s wrong with this picture?

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The sidewalk on the left is open and was filled with students so much that the two in the picture were overflowing onto the street.

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This article appeared in LPFM and was written by Leah Weston.

A functioning media holds democratic institutions accountable. That is why I feel compellled to post my open letter to Tallahassee in the wake of this week’s development in the tragic hit-and-run death of bicyclist Aaron Cohen, just one of many such incidents in South Florida. The dangerous and deadly status quo on our streets is unacceptable.

Check out the Miami Bike Scene’s piece, “Business As Usual in South Florida” to read more on the Aaron Cohen tragedy. If you feel moved to do something about our deadly driving culture, consider joining Emerge Miami on Monday in Brickell for a Pedestrian Safety Walk. Please feel free to share this letter.

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Dear Tallahassee,

There is a culture of violence on our streets.

No, I am not talking about guns. I am talking about cars.

This week, many of us reeled in shock, disgust, and sadness as we learned the fate of 26 year-old Michele Traverso in court. After a late night of partying at the bars in Coconut Grove last February, Mr. Traverso hopped into his car. While driving with a suspended license, Mr. Traverso struck and killed 35 year-old Aaron Cohen, a businessman and father of two young children, who was riding his bicycle on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Rather than stop, Mr. Traverso fled the scene of the crash, called his lawyer, and left Mr. Cohen to die. He turned himself into police the following evening.

This week, our justice system rewarded Mr. Traverso for this cowardly act of selfishness. By waiting 24 hours to sober up and turn himself in, he rendered DUI charges against him impossible. Mr. Traverso pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license. Based on the guidelines by which he is bound, the judge sentenced Mr. Traverso to 364 days in jail and two years on probation for killing a man.

I want to bring this story to your attention, not because it is outrageous, but because it is typical. This is the story of the carnage we see on our roads every single day when someone dares to ride a bicycle or cross the street. This is not just a transportation problem—it’s an institutional problem. Our system perpetuates carelessness and selfishness on our roads.

It is time for the Florida legislature to take swift and bold action to address this public safety crisis. The public streets are for everyone. Riding a bicycle or walking should not be a death wish. If the House Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee has time to consider a bill to convert low-speed electric vehicles to golf carts, surely it can work on changes to address the motor vehicle-related carnage, including harsher penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident and safer, more inclusive street design policies for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Do not allow 2013 to be a rerun of this devastating tragedy.

 

This post was submitted to us this morning by Patricia Peña.

Dadeland mall is probably one of the biggest landmarks that Miami has, right next to South Beach and the Triple A (well, at least in my opinion). When it first opened in the 80s, it was the beginning of Miami’s eternal love with suburban sprawl, which has resulted in Kendall, a place that most Miamians have a love/hate relationship with. You can’t wait to get out of Kendall, but you’ll rep it until the day you die, in true Miami style! Sunset Knights, wha what?! Sorry, that was a momentary lapse…

Back to Dadeland. In the last few years, they have tried to revitalize the area, rebrand it as Downtown Dadeland (it’s unincorporated Miami-Dade, let’s not kid ourselves) and try to make it into a small, bustling metropolis with multi-use buildings, restaurants and shops. And try as they might, it just isn’t happening. When my husband and I moved to the area about five years ago, we did so because my job at the time offered me a free monthly pass to the Metro-Rail, so we became a one car family and I was thrilled with the idea that I could walk to Target or Publix to get what we needed whenever he was away at work with the car. I got one of those little carts that you see old people walking around with. A lady at work offered to bedazzle it. It was fabulous, don’t judge me. So here I go, all excited to get my groceries. And then…. BAM!! I encountered Kendall Drive. Now, for those of you that are not familiar with this lovely thoroughfare, it’s a pedestrian’s worst nightmare. Think of George in the episode of Seinfeld when he gets the Frogger machine.

The Dadeland area has the potential of being a truly amazing area to live, work and play in. It’s flanked by two, count ‘em: two, Metro Rail stops. There are apartments galore, some that are still mostly empty, the mall is currently undergoing a massive renovation to add more restaurants. And yet, you can’t get anywhere walking without saying five Hail Mary’s, two Our Father’s and crossing yourself the entire time. I’ve seen old ladies, moms with strollers, dad’s dragging kids and tourists all trying to cross unscathed. As expected, this is a three-lane road, that feeds into the Palmetto (don’t even get me started on that disaster!) and speeding is not only rampant, it’s expected! Now, we all know that reducing the number of lanes will in turn reduce the speed, increase walkability, and increase traffic into stores, etcetera. But, I’m a simple woman, I don’t ask for much. I know that that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. So I’m asking for smaller things. You know what I would like? I would like a crossing light that lasts more than 10 seconds. I can’t even get halfway before the flashing hand stops! I would like the streetlights to be synchronized in a way that makes sense, so people can feel safe crossing from their hotel to the mall. I know if it makes sense, we don’t do it here in Miami-Dade County. But once, just once, can we try? South Miami did it, and look how great it’s working out for them. I would just like to be able to go the Target at the Dadeland station, without fearing for my life and getting honked at every five seconds (which is more to do with the fabulous drivers we have here, but that’s another topic for another time). Seriously, I’m not asking for much, just some good old fashioned common sense and to think of the people that are outside of the metal boxes, who are worth just as much as the ones inside. That and world peace. Oh, and some Louboutins!

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