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What: Second Public Meeting on South Bayshore Drive Improvement Project

Where: Miami City Hall Chambers, 3500 Pan American Drive

When: Monday, September 15, 2014, 6 pm

Scope: Widening and reconstruction of roadway with drainage improvements, traffic signalization, designated bike lanes and landscape improvements from Mercy Way to Darwin Street.

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These are some basic facts about the project. To give some more context, the following may be helpful. It should be clear that this meeting is an important one to attend if you care about improvements to the bike / ped infrastructure in the area. The City of Miami has an opportunity to get a lot of things right this time around – let’s see whether they live up to the challenge.

The project concerns an area that forms part of the connection between Coconut Grove and the Brickell / downtown area. Given that there really is no safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to get from Coconut Grove to Brickell / downtown or the Key Biscayne bridge, it is important that the City of Miami get this project right. The route suffers from a large number of commuters that use it in the morning and the evening instead of US 1. There will likely be discussions about the extent to which level of service not being sacrificed in order to create a safe streetscape. If that doesn’t happen, it would be a pleasant surprise. If it does, it is no longer an acceptable argument, especially given the high risks for pedestrians and cyclists in the third most dangerous metropolitan area in a highly used corridor by pedestrians and cyclists.

Make your voice heard and ask or demand (whatever you prefer) that the entire project receive contiguous bike lanes and sidewalks, the latter of which (ideally some parts of the bike lane as well) is not at grade with the road so as to avoid crashes that have in the past almost cost a jogger his life.

 

Some of you may have heard that the Venetian Causeway will be shut down for an extended period of time. Head on over to the Belle Isle Blog for more background information.

The upshot is that due to lack of maintenance (before you place blame fully at the people at Public Works and Waste Management, consider that the political leadership in Miami continues to push for lower taxes and this is pretty much what you end up getting), the westernmost part of the bridge must be demolished and replaced. The problems surfaced when a Miami Dade County bus crossed the Venetian Causeway and got stuck and a hole opened up. After a brief closure, new weight limits mean that County buses are unable to cross the Causeway, leading to a increases in travel times for those working on the islands.

The bridge won’t be closed for another four to six months and will then be shut down to all traffic for about six to nine months. This report was confirmed at a recent meeting with Public Works and Waste Management department staff. And given the track record of recent projects, things must be going well. Residents, visitors and workers (some of whom may not have another means of transport) use the Venetian Causeway as the only viable – as in not completely unsafe – option to access South Beach. The other two options – the MacArthur Causeway and the Julia Tuttle Causeway managed by the Florida Department of Transportation – are not recommended routes, despite FDOT having put bike lanes on them (we have asked FDOT District 6 head Gus Pego to bike those routes with us to show that he considers them safe, so far he hasn’t taken us up on the offer). Add the current construction project on the MacArthur and the convoluted access to the sidewalk that leads to the bike lane on the mainland side as well as our usual crazy Miami drivers and making the trip by bike increases your chances of serious injury or fatality to an unacceptable degree (as if the current situation wasn’t already bad enough).

We suggest that the County do the following:

  • provide options for those unable to get to Miami Beach by increasing bus service to Miami Beach and the islands by way of Miami Beach;
  • consider adding trailers to buses so that those needing to go to Miami Beach do not have expose themselves to the dangers of either the Tuttle or the MacArthur Causeway (for examples, look here, here and here - and yes, being able to lock bikes would be good, this is Miami after all); and
  • keep the public informed on the progress of the construction and the available transportation options.

We would like to find out what other – serious – ideas you have that the County could take up. Please feel free to add comments or send us an email.

 

 

The Aaron Cohen Bill is currently making its way through the Florida legislature. It has taken all hurdles in the Florida Senate with a unanimous vote on the floor of the Senate today. What remains is getting it through one House committee and then the full House. What can you do? Please take a moment to let the chair of the Economic Affairs Committee, Rep. Patronis (jimmy.patronis@myfloridahouse.gov), know that you are in favor of moving the bill forward.

Below is a sample email:
Dear Chair Patronis:

I am writing on behalf of the Aaron Cohen Law Initiative (AaronCohenLaw.org), a grass-roots non-profit effort that was formed in South Florida in response to an unjust sentence that was handed down to a man who drove his car into two cyclists while they were riding their bikes in the bike lane on Key Biscayne and he never stopped to help them.

One of those cyclists, Aaron Cohen, was killed.

The driver served less than a year in county jail. Had he stayed on the scene to render aid, law enforcement would have very likely retrieved blood evidence of DUI, which would have resulted in a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years. Instead, he was sentenced to 364 days in jail and was released 100 days early.

CS/HB183 effectively eliminates the inadvertent penalty gap that exists between DUI manslaughter and Leaving the Scene involving Death (a.k.a. “Hit-and-Run”).

We are pleased that the bill has UNANIMOUSLY passed its first three House committee stops, all four of its Senate committee stops (SB102) and on 3/26/2014 it unanimously passed the Senate floor. We know that your committee is next in line to hear the bill. We kindly ask that you please agenda the bill for the committee’s next meeting, Friday April 4th, 2014.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
(your name here)

 

 

BFF MIami 2014

Get your tickets here and at bicyclefilmfestival.com

 

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Just when you thought the pedestrian experience on Brickell Ave couldn’t get any worse, it has! The city is installing some new car-centric billboards on the sidewalks of Brickell Ave.  We already had a number of them and now we are getting more. These billboards unnecessarily block the already narrow and dangerous sidewalks of Brickell Ave. As you will note from these pictures, the billboards are being installed right in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking pedestrians and bicyclists, and making for even more hazardous conditions. They could have been installed parallel (instead of perpendicular) and as far back as possible, but I imagine that would not cater to the cars stuck in traffic. Not only are they an obstacle and unsightly, they are dangerous. Someone is going to be seriously injured as a result of these billboards. Just yesterday I witnessed a lady with a stroller walking around one of these billboards, having to move so close to the street that her stroller was within inches of passing cars. Those who approved these sidewalk billboards must not walk regularly on Brickell Ave.  These advertisements are evidence of the car-centric culture and general disregard for pedestrians in the city of Miami. No amount of revenue is worth the inconvenience and hazards they billboards pose. I hope that our Brickell area representative in the city, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, will do all in his power to remove (or at least move) these billboards so that our sidewalks are safer for the increasing number of residents, workers, and visitors that walk our streets.

Carlos Abril

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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.

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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.

 

Open Transit: Transit Design for Urban Living

By studying transit landmarks like Grand Central Terminal, visited by 750,000 commuters, diners, and shoppers daily, and Rockefeller Plaza, essentially a large subway transit concourse, guest speaker Peter Cavaluzzi shares his Key Principles of Open Transit.

  • Learn what’s essential to successful contemporary urban design and redevelopment.
  • What makes successful iconic urban spaces and discover how to apply these principles to any building development.
  • Leverage and position transit facilities and infrastructure to create iconic designs without dominating the view.

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I arrived at 5 pm on a Sunday at MIA and decided to take the train home in Coconut Grove. This should be a simple proposition. The system is new, so one expects it to be clean. No bonus points for that. Connecting the airport with the rest of the area is a no-brainer and should have been a long time ago.

I tried tracking the train over MDT’s app, but got nowhere (it’s generally good). No exact times to be found. I proceeded to the station at any rate. Once there it would have been good to have a central information point that listed the different departure times for buses and trains. No information to be found.

I decided to check the train platform and paid to do so without knowing when a train would depart. No information to be found

I tried the station personnel of which there were plenty and they had nothing to do. No information to be found and no willingness to seek it.

At some point a train came. No one knew when it would leave.

I like public transit. I grew up with it. But public transit needs to make it easy for users and here is where MDT fails. You could give people information about the available options so that they can choose.  But MDT doesn’t. Transportation systems in “world class cities” (which so many Miami politicians like to compare themselves to) do.

If this is how Miami greets it’s visitors then Miami fails epicly.

PS: To top it all off, while waiting on the train the public announcements were nonsensical and the most unprofessional I have ever witnessed anywhere in the world. It was as if the person on the microphone had a conversation with another person. Visitors on the train rolled their eyes. Locals just assume that this is how we roll in Miami.

 

Please click here to register:

Click here to view a list of attendees.

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From The Atlantic:

The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute, and Bloomberg Philanthropies will host the upcoming summit “CityLab: Urban Solutions to Global Challenges,” taking place October 6-8, 2013, in New York City. The event will bring together 300 global city leaders—more than 30 mayors, plus urban theorists, city planners, scholars, architects, and artists—for a series of conversations about urban ideas that are shaping the world’s metro centers.

The summit will feature conversations on economic development; the environment and sustainability; cultural investment; big data; and the intersection of public safety, privacy, and technology; as well as smaller breakout sessions exploring topics like redevelopment, urban infrastructure, transportation, urban expansion, and the creation of the next tech city.

Please select the player below to watch all main stage programming and select breakout session (see below for an agenda of live sessions). And join the conversation on Twitter by using #CityLab and following @Atlantic_LIVE,@AspenInstitute, and @BloombergDotOrg.

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The Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has another bicycle and pedestrian mobility survey for us.

Express your mobility needs and desires. Let your voice be heard.

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Take the survey!

 

We received this email from Andrew Frey:

Folks, this coming Thurs is a Little Havana community meeting, see below and attached.  Many leaders will be there, including hopefully the City district commissioner.  It will be a great opportunity to spread the word about promoting fine-grain urban neighborhood development — in the heart of Miami’s largest expanse of T4 zoning — and about necessary zoning changes to make smaller sites developable, for example eliminating required parking.  
The Little Havana Merchant Alliance (LHMA), in conjunction with a variety of other local organizations, invites you to the first ever Little Havana Open House.DATE: Thursday, Sept. 5
TIME: 6:30 – 11 pm
PLACE: In the courtyard behind Mansini’s Pizza House 541 SW 12th Ave.

  • MEET local community leaders and organizations working to help Little Havana through projects like making our streets more pedestrian friendly, assisting local small businesses and organizing community events.  We won’t bore you — this is casual networking, but we will have info available about each organization.
     
  • ENJOY free slice of pizza if you’re one of the first 75 attendees, as well as complimentary refreshments like mojitos, provided thanks to Miami Club Rum.
     
  • DISCOVER local volunteer opportunities and projects: get involved in local organizations! Do you already belong to a group? Find out what other organizations are working on the same issues, so we can collaborate and partner for a BIGGER IMPACT!
     
  • LEARN about LHMA’s FREE upcoming workshops for local businesses and entrepreneurs, thanks to a partnership with the Kiwanis of Little Havana.
     
  • PARTICIPATE in a raffle and, if you want, give a donation to the 6th Street Dance Studio, a nonprofit studio that offers free dance classes for local kids every Friday.
     
  • VISIT the 6th Street Dance Studio and local art galleries in the “village” around the courtyard.

In addition to LHMA, organizations participating in the Little Havana Open House include:

  • Acción / Little Havana Community Action Committe
  • CAMACOL
  • Camara de Comercio Latina Calle Ocho
  • ConnectFamilias
  • Kiwanis of Little Havana
  • Miami River Commission
  • Miami Shenandoah Neighborhood Association
  • Viernes Culturales
  • AND MORE!

PLEASE JOIN US – and please bring a friend who wants to get involved. 

To RSVP, please email lhmamiami@gmail.com or call Raissa at (786) 255-4664.

 

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A grant opportunity is available and we thought of YOU! Do you want to help cultivate more young cyclists and teach children how to maintain, ride and enjoy a bike!? Click on the following link to learn more about the Rails-to-Trails and UHP South Florida Earn-a-Bike Grant opportunity. Feel free to forward this opportunity to any organization that you think might be interested. In the meantime, thank you for helping create more biking opportunities in South Florida!
Click here to fill out the form: Rails-to-Trails “Earn-a-Bike” RFQ

 

You can register here. By the way, I ‘ve reached out to all our City Commissioners about this event. Let’s see how many of them actually show up. Yes, we are keeping tabs.

 

Can Miami Develop Now with Less Parking

 

Local politicians are finally beginning to get on-board with bicycle and pedestrian justice!

The smarter ones are beginning to realize that the remainder of their political careers will be determined by their commitment to active transportation and livable urbanism here in greater Miami.

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Tuesday, May 21 — 9:15am

Board of County Commissioners Meeting

South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center

10950 SW 211 Street

Cutler Bay, Florida 33189

 
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