Currently viewing the category: "Coconut Grove"

Transit Miami friend, Bricen, sent us the following email:

As a mother of 2 young children that needs to be heard, I look to you Transit Miami for help.  We live in a quaint neighborhood right smack dab in the middle of US1 and Tigertail Ave.  When you are here roaming the residential streets of the North Grove you don’t even feel as if you are surrounded by the bustle of an urban city.  Living here we are very blessed to have Marjory Stoneman Douglas Mini Park in our backdoor.  The park is a Miami Dade public park (playground really) that is frequented by many.  There are kids EVERYWHERE in this hood.  Enter 22nd Ave connecting US1 and Tigertail Ave.  You would think this small strip of street was part of the Indy 500.  Crossing 22nd Ave to enter the park has become a very scary game of red rover red rover.  There is a ancient stop for pedestrian in crosswalk sign that NO ONE sees or much less pays any attention.  In the 8 months that we have been living here, we have been to the park nearly everyday, sometimes twice a day.  On two occasions, yes TWICE, have I had a car actually stop to let me cross with the kids.  The real fat kicker:  BOTH of these times that we were waved across, here comes maniac driver PUNCHING the gas to quickly go around the stopped car letting us cross!  Hello SCREAMS, FREAK OUT, FREEZ IN SHOES WHICH WAY DO I PULL THE WAGON, SLAM ON BREAKS, KIDS CRYING, WE ALMOST DIED moment.  What the heck is wrong with people.  Seriously.  Long gone are the days when people actually pause, enjoy the scenery, and just wait.  Wait for a mother, father or nanny with kids, babies and strollers to safely cross the road.  Just last week someone stopped to let a nanny and baby by and that act of goodness ended in a 3 car accident!  God forbid a child actually escape the arms of a caretaker and run right out into this death trap. It is something very scary that we encounter daily.  Please City of Miami  a speed hump or two is all we ask for.  If you could throw in a flashing yellow cross light that would be icing but come on, this is a neighborhood, these are our kids, and probably up to 30 kids that reside here walk to that park daily. The 22nd Ave crosswalk is somebody’s nightmare waiting to happen.  I pray to God every single day that it’s not mine.

 

Although the City of Miami owns this road, we are being told by Transit Miami sources within the city that any time the city adds signs, pavement markings or change to traffic patterns they must get approval from the County.  The reindeer games between the County and the City needs to come to an end.  The County and the City must to do what is right for the all the residents. You can send City Commissioner Sarnoff and County Commissioner Xavier Suarez an email by clicking here.

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The Miami Herald is reporting that FDOT has begun a resurfacing project on Bird Road. According to the article:

Workers will repave and restripe the road; widen the bridge and road shoulder; build a new sidewalk on the north side of Bird Road as well as upgrade sidewalks and curb ramps.

Crews will also make drainage improvements to alleviate water buildup in the swale area. Landscaping will improved. Lighting will be improved and new traffic and pedestrian signs and signals installed.

A pedestrian bridge will be built. Workers will remove existing guardrail and installing new guardrail at various locations.

There is no mention of new bicycle facilities. I have contacted Transit Miami sources within the City of Miami and the County and they are unaware of any bicycle infrastructure improvements.  The $2.5 million improvement project on Bird Road will occur between Red Road and Southwest 38th Avenue. Coral Gables High School happens to be on this stretch of roadway. Connecting a high school with bicycling infrastructure would be the smart thing to do; it encourages students to bike to school. Also, there is a bridge that crosses a canal on this stretch of roadway.  Bridges are often the most dangerous areas for cyclists; they must converge on bridges to cross any body of water.  I’m glad to see a pedestrian bridge will be incorporated in the design plans, but the transition should also be seamless for cyclists too.

For the record, FDOT has recently completed 2 resurfacing projects which are second-rate (MacArthur Causeway, Coral Way). FDOT seems very hesitant to accommodate cyclists on Sunset Drive and now it appears that cyclists were not considered in the Bird Road project at all.  This is not a pretty track record.  Please contact Transit Miami ally Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera and FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and ask them why provisions for bicyclists were not made to this very important route.

The Transit Miami eye is watching every FDOT project closely.

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The Old Cutler Road bike path is in shambles.  Below is a fire hydrant that has been placed in the middle of bike path. There are dozens of other obstacles that cyclists need to avoid on this path. The Old Cutler Road bike path is long overdue for a makeover. Root rot, dangerous intersections, poor placement of signs, and oncoming cars are just a few other examples of obstacles that cyclists need to avoid when riding here.

Fire hydrant in the middle of the Old Cutler Road bicycle path.

This afternoon I stopped by Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove to check out the new fitness area which was completed in January. Take a look at the pictures below; I think you’ll agree that the $24,500 investment has paid itself off already. The fitness area was packed with people of all ages. Again congratulations to Commissioner Mark Sarnoff, for allocating quality-of-life funds for this initiative. The fitness area is undeniably making our community healthier.

Kennedy Park Fitness Area

Kennedy Park Fitness Area

Children and adults getting fitter

Children and adults getting fitter

No pain, no gain.

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Transit Miami would like to give Commissioner Sarnoff a shout-out for bringing a free bayfront gym to Coconut Grove. The new exercise equipment at Kennedy Park includes benches, cross-trainers, parallel bars, leg presses, a horizontal ladder and rowing machine. The money came from Sarnoff’s quality-of-life funds and cost $24,500.

This is a great idea; by providing a free gym it should attract more people to use this beautiful park and thereby encouraging a healthier Miami.

According to the article in the Miami Herald, Commissioner Sarnoff got the idea from his trainer, Aida Johnson of Equinox Fitness Club, who helped create a similar program in Chicago. Personal trainers from Equinox, the Downtown Athletic Club, Paradise Gym and 24 Hour Fitness will also be at the park next week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to provide free instruction.  You can find more information about when the trainers will be available here.

Remember: No pain, no gain; get out there and work it! Transit Miami wants Miami looking fabulous.

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Photo: http://kingmangostrut.org/default.htm

We here at Transit Miami love events that poke fun at  politics and pop culture. The 28th annual King Mango Strut will be held on Sunday December 28th @ 2pm in Coconut Grove. The 2009 grand marshal will be “Jimbo” of Jimbo’s Place on Virginia Key.

For those of you that have never been to the King Mango Strut I strongly encourage you to attend. This is one my favorite events of the year and it looks like it will be a beautiful day for some good laughs.  The streets in center Grove will be closed for the parade, so come by bicycle!  This is a family friendly event and it’s free.

You can find more information about this year’s King Mango Strut here.

Hats off to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff for working with Coconut Grove residents, business leaders, and advocates for pushing the livable streets agenda forward. Starting on July 4th, Commodore Plaza will be closed to cars and opened to pedestrians, cafes seating, and live music. Each closure will take place for five consecutive weekend from Saturday at 6pm to early Sunday morning. This pilot project will help determine whether or not closing Commodore more permanently is feasible. Please contact Commissioner Sarnoff  (My Commissioner tab above for more info) to let him know that you appreciate the effort.  More importantly, go out and experience the urbanism!

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A street mural being chalked on Commodore Plaza during the early hours of Bike Miami Days.

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Next Sunday, April 26, Bike Miami Days returns, and this time the Magic City’s best car-free event is being held in the center of Coconut Grove. Word on the street is that Grove merchants are really gearing up for the event, with many offering discounts, specials, and giveaways. Additionally, there will be many concurrent events  occurring throughout the day, including kid-centric activities, live music, entertainment, and an an Orange Bike Parade– hosted by our friends at the Dutch Embassy in Miami (follow that link to sign up for a free orange shirt, and a chance to win one of two Dutch Royale Gazelle bicycles!) Also, dozens of organizations will be on hand to promote their good work. The Bike Miami Days website has all of the details.

Look for me too,  as I will be on hand to discuss Miami’s Bicycle Master Plan, which commences next week! Feel free to approach me to discuss all of your frustrations, routes, and best ideas on improving bicycling conditions in the City of Miami. More details on this to follow next week…

Finally, the Transit Miami After Party will be held at Eleven Leprechauns, located at 3120 Commodore Plaza. This family-friendly celebration of all things livable streets begins at 2pm and will feature, drink and food specials, live music, and features the return of the Model Citizens improv comedy troupe. We hope to see you there.

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Last Saturday Bike the Grove unveiled the first of three artistic bicycle racks in Peacock Park. Miami Bike Scene and the Coconut Grapevine provide plenty of coverage on this one.  I personally have yet to see it, but from the pictures find it to be underwhelming, if not underperforming. Let’s hope the next two hit the mark.

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Photo by Rydel.

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This Saturday, March 28th, from 4-6pm at the Peacock Park Glass House there will be a special event called Bike the Grove.  Bike the Grove is a partnership between  Team 6, Leadership Miami and the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce. The centerpiece of the event will be the unveiling of a special Lebo designed bicycle rack. Installing artistic bicycle racks is a popular way to raise awareness and dress up any streetscape with both beauty and function–when designed well. I have yet to see any design, so can not comment at this moment for the overall beauty and/or utility of the proposed bicycle rack, which the Herald reports will be one of three signature art racks installed in the Grove. Two more will be unveiled on Sunday, April 26th when Bike Miami Days migrates to Coconut Grove. Marc Sarnoff will be speaking at Saturday’s event, as will our fearless bicycle coordinator, Collin Worth.  Kudos to the sponsors of this event and the bicycle racks, as they will both bring more awareness to the issue and continue to raise the profile of bicycling in the City of Miami.

  • CITT will reconsider whether to vote for new Metrorail cars (Miami Today News)
  • Anti-Miami 21 Commissioner Regalado announces candidacy for Mayor (Miami Sunpost)
  • Metrorail controversy over “ghost posts” (Miami Herald)
  • Cyclist win the right to sue FDOT for failing to implement bike lanes (Bike Blog)

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From the Miami Today:

EYES ON THE STREET: Small black kiosks are popping up around Coconut Grove as part of a City of Miami pilot initiative to have more “eyes on the street,” Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said. He proposed the idea in May, calling for increased enforcement officer presence. The booths are to serve as bases for police officers “most of the time,” he said, and sometimes for code-enforcement officers. During special events, they could also serve as information booths for visitors, he said. The city hopes to complete the booths before the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, which begins Feb. 16. “If this (pilot) works, we’re going to bring it up Biscayne Boulevard around the performing arts center,” as well as to the Upper East side and possibly Little Havana, Mr. Sarnoff said.

The CGG has a different view:

They look like prison guard stations or even worse, Gulag booths. Do they need to be black and do tourists really need an info booth? The Grove is three streets long. The best thing is to let the tourists wander around and go into stores and ask around for things. It will bring more business to stores this way and it makes it a friendlier place than to have a cold black info booth.

We here at Transit Miami like this new approach to keeping our streets safer. The booths will create a place for tourists to seek advice while keeping a vigilant eye on our higher pedestrian areas. They promote safety and tourism while encouraging people to walk about our most urban neighborhoods. I think we could use a few of these along Flagler, Brickell, and Little Havana. Your thoughts?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think on our poll in the left sidebar…

If you’ve ever traveled through the Grove (emphasis on Center Grove for this piece), you’ve probably noticed the ubiquitous gates and walls that fortress off most homes and buildings in the neighborhood. Perhaps many of these residents believe that gates and walls provide a feeling of safety and sense of security to protect them from the “inherent criminal element” of the urban neighborhood. Others might claim that it’s privacy they desire, and that suburban dream can only be realized with walls and gates in a place designed like the Center Grove. Regardless of the intent, these walls and gates symbolize the growing socioeconomic polarization of Miami as well as the decline of the street as a functional element of the public realm.

In effect, all of the individual gated and walled parts equate to a de facto gated neighborhood, a fortress-like mentality that aims to separate from poorer, less fortunate parts of the community. The message is clear: outsiders (i.e. West Grove residents) are not welcome here. Should we be surprised? Not really. Many outspoken Grove residents are still disillusioned about being a City of Miami neighborhood and not some quaint, autonomous slice of paradise. Regarding urban design, they wish they lived in an exclusive suburb, yet want the amenities afforded by a lively urban community. Therefore, they choose to wall themselves from the greater society they don’t want to be apart of, and rally for easy access (e.g. secure driveways and easily available business district parking) to the places they frequent. Call it “cherry-picking urbanism”.

Anyone who travels down SW 32nd Ave/McDonald Ave (probably by car, given that sidewalks are non-existent) is moving down one the most unambiguous demarcations of poverty and wealth in any major American city. However, instead of the entire Grove community choosing to deal with these socioeconomic imbalances, the wealthier Center Grove has largely chosen to barricade itself from the West Grove’s problems. One gets the feeling that Center Grove residents are just waiting for well-off, private regarding urban pioneers to venture across McDonald Ave, gentrifying the West Grove parcel-by-parcel, block-by-block until it merges with its equally well-fortified South Grove neighbor.

The point is, the infamous gates and walls that have sprouted up like weeds in recent decades are cancerous to civic life and public spaces, as is evident by the astonishing segregation of these two neighborhoods despite their close proximity. We can and should do a better job building inclusive neighborhoods that are critical for democracy, social progress, and high quality civic life. It’s a delusion to think these easily traversable gates and walls provide any legitimate means of security. Thus, instead of barricading ourselves and turning away from the West Grove, it’s opening up to the street and being inclusive that gives the best opportunity for the whole community to be a safer, more democratic place.

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National:

  • The Houston MTA has voted to use LRT on all of its upcoming 5 rapid transit routes.
  • How do you resolve a budget deficit of $29 Million? You spend $102 Million to build a streetcar of course! This method is being pitched by Cincinnati’s City Manager, who argues that the added benefit the streetcar will bring will more quickly pull the city out of economic recession.
  • Seattle voters will soon be heading to the polls to vote on a massive transportation bill which will simultaneously expand LRT service and widen highways…
Local:
  • Alesh provides a run down of how to use Public Transit. Plenty of good points, particularly: the environment, exercise, reading time, and money. The only thing I’d add to the list is social interaction…
  • Earth to these people…Lowering the parking rates at the Sonesta will CAUSE MORE PROBLEMS… If anything, parking meter rates should increase to discourage people within walking distance of the grove from driving around in search for a parking spot. If you need help on how to get around without a car, see Alesh’s post above…
  • Michael Lewis provides us with some much needed insight on the former fountain in Bayfront Park once dedicated to Claude Pepper…
  • Rail apparently isn’t a viable option to connect to the port… We still disagree

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