Yesterday, Gov. Rick Scott named insider Ananth Prasad the new secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) following a lengthy vetting process. Unfortunately, Prasad’s appointment appears disastrous for anyone who advocates for complete, livable streets or chooses to walk, ride a bicycle or use any other alternative means of transportation in Florida. Prasad, a career FDOT bureaucrat, recently made a series of embarrassingly backward comments before the United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure regarding sidewalks and cycling paths. These comments were the subject of a post on TransitMiami.com only a few weeks ago.
Nothing like some fresh, progressive-thinking leadership to head the FDOT and change Florida’s dubious reputation of having the 4 most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the USA. (Orlando, Tampa, Miami/FLL and Jacksonville, respectively). One would think that changing those statistics would be a ‘mission critical’ for the FDOT.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The FDOT is continually failing to sufficiently accommodate pedestrians and cyclists in their roadway designs – even on the FDOT roadways that pierce through our urban cores like Biscayne Blvd and Brickell Avenue in Miami. The appointment of Prasad in light of his shockingly ignorant comments regarding sidewalks and bicycle paths only re-affirm the arcane mentality of the FDOT. More and more people are choosing to commute by bicycle and live in walkable communities in the face of soaring gas prices. Yet, the FDOT’s auto-centric designs are putting our state on a path reminiscent of Ireland ahead of the Great Potato Famine – an economy solely reliant on one necessity (automobiles) with little to no recourse when it is no longer sustainable.
After a series of fatal and serious accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists on ill-designed FDOT roads in Miami, no local official has been able to effectively influence the FDOT to make safety a priority for all users of the road (as the word ‘transportation’ should imply), not just those in sealed, metal, gas-powered compartments that pollute the air.
Simply put, the FDOT acts like a rouge agency, accountable to no one, and the appointment of Prasad appears to be terrible news for anyone optimistic for the development and fostering of complete and livable streets in Florida until he proves otherwise.
Craig Chester is the latest addition to the Transit Miami team. He is a concerned citizen who wants better streets for the citizens of Miami-Dade County.
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