Just One Option FDOT Shelved

Have you traveled along Sunset Drive recently? Between SW 84 Place and SW 69 Avenue – right by three elementary schools, historic places of worship, a beautiful public park and several shops and restaurants – FDOT is pushing through a project without consideration of public opinion, the needs of the adjacent community or the safety of those of us who use the roadway. Sound like strong words? Consider that at last night’s public meeting, which was more like a sales pitch than a conversation, FDOT did not present any options directed at improving safety for users with the exception of ‘Share the Road’ signs. They seemed shocked that so many people came to the meeting to begin with, and then they talked about moving cars, not people. We know that most people traveling along this road are in cars, but bicycle lanes improve safety for them, too. That’s right – people drive better, cyclists ride better and even pedestrians are safer when streets are designed to accommodate all of them and, more specifically, bike lanes are striped.

Moreover, from USDOT down, transportation agencies are encouraging a greater ‘modal split’, or more bicycling, walking and transit use. This is particularly important along Sunset Drive, where local residents could easily walk to school, church, the store, etc. It is important because people who bicycle through this area do not have real parallel street alternatives. It is important because FDOT is funded through federal dollars, and federal dollars are not coming to Florida or our auto-centric projects.

Please don’t think that your voice doesn’t make a difference. FDOT needs to hear from you, needs to know that you care about the safety of our infamously dangerous public roads. I keep hearing from last night’s public meeting that the project is clearly already done, already designed. Until they start breaking up concrete, they have to listen to taxpayers. Besides, we are really just asking them to follow their own policies and those of the USDOT.

Your letter doesn’t have to be long, but I encourage you to email it and cc the Miami-Dade MPO, FDOT’s top safety and roadway design officials and The Miami Herald. The letter I sent this morning is copied here:

To: gus.pego@dot.state.fl.us
Cc: davidh@miamidade.gov; dennis.scott@dot.state.fl.us; maryanne.koos@dot.state.fl.us; ken.jeffries@dot.state.fl.us; marianne.trussell@dot.state.fl.us; fdot@dot.state.fl.us; aviglucci@miamiherald.com; editor@miamiherald.com

Dear Mr. Pego:

As a lifelong Floridian and active citizen, I am concerned that FDOT is going against state policies (335.065, copied below), common sense safety practices and the direction from USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood by refusing resident requests that bike lanes be incorporated into the Sunset Drive project.

As recommended by the resolution of the Miami-Dade MPO’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee and by so many of the local residents at last night’s public meeting, I am requesting that the median be narrowed by 1 foot on each side and bicycle lanes included. Wide lanes, as you know, encourage speeding by motorists, while narrowing lanes and adding bike lanes reduce motorist speeds and increase safety for all road users.

Wide curb lanes can be ideal in some cases, however, where the speed differential is as extreme as it is on Sunset Drive between SW 84 Place and SW 69 Avenue, bicycle lanes make the most sense. They are also a significant source ofmoney from Washington.

Sec. LaHood recently stated on video that “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”(http://fastlane.dot.gov/2010/03/my-view-from-atop-the-table-at-the-national-bike-summit.html) He goes on to say that DOT’s commitment to bicycling facilities is evidenced by the number of TIGER grants that went to bicycle projects across this country. Could this be a reason why the state of Florida did not receive any of these funds? More money will be coming from Washington – let’s pave (and stripe!) the way to these dollars in FDOT District 6.

More formally, Sec. LaHood announced the following Department of Transportation Policy, available for your reference here: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/bicycle-ped.html:  ”The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life —transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.”

But again, bicycle lanes make the road safer for EVERYONE. They discourage cyclists from using the sidewalk (reducing cyclist/pedestrian conflicts) and they even reduce motorist collisions. Please see the 2006 UT-Austin study demonstrating increased safety for motorists where bicycle lanes are present:http://www.utexas.edu/news/2006/09/18/engineering/

I’d like to close by stating that Marjory Stoneman Douglas was an icon for me growing up. I met her as a child and she was committing to promoting sustainable living even in her final years. Given that this road is named in her honor, I am all the more convinced that bicycle lanes make sense.

In short, bicycle lanes are safer, their implementation makes for successful and sustainable policy and in the case of Sunset Drive, they just make sense.

Thank you for considering all users as you move to finalize design for this project. I look forward to your reply.

Best regards,

Kathryn Reid Moore
South Florida Bike Coalition
http://SFBikeCoalition.wordpress.com [Anyone think he'll read my blog?]

*335.065  Bicycle and pedestrian ways along state roads and transportation facilities.

(1)(a)  Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.

(b)  Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), bicycle and pedestrian ways are not required to be established:

1.  Where their establishment would be contrary to public safety;

2.  When the cost would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use;

3.  Where other available means or factors indicate an absence of need.

(2)  The department shall establish construction standards and a uniform system of signing for bicycle and pedestrian ways.

(3)  The department, in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall establish a statewide integrated system of bicycle and pedestrian ways in such a manner as to take full advantage of any such ways which are maintained by any governmental entity. For the purposes of this section, bicycle facilities may be established as part of or separate from the actual roadway and may utilize existing road rights-of-way or other rights-of-way or easements acquired for public use.

18 Responses to Sunset Drive: Driving Out Sensible Citizen Input

  1. Mike Lydon says:

    Let FDOT hear that their plans are totally unacceptable in the 21st century.

    However, small sidenote: Wide curb lanes are not a good option. Ever. They encourage further speeding and are not recognizable as a bikeway. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that WCL’s are acceptable for bicyclists, pedestrians, or motorists. Slooooooow the cars with narrower lanes, which facilitates sharing far more than widening the lane to “accommodate” bicyclists.


  2. Dave Snyder says:

    Looking at the map, it’s clear that it’s only a moderately important street for cars and would benefit immensely from the traffic changes that would be caused by bike lanes: slightly slower traffic, safer pedestrian conditions, and an important link in the safe bicycling network. Go Transit Miami and South Florida Bicycle Coalition!


  3. Rider says:

    On the east side of this projects limits the city of South Miami took over the roadway, the FDOT actually gave it to the City. The city was able to bring speeds down from 20mph by US-1 and as high as 35mph next to where this project starts.
    The median area is currently 21′, the DOT has requested a variance to bring it down to a “substandard” width of 19′ in order to implement the wide curb lanes. FDOT can still request a variance to reduce the median to 17′ and include actual bike lanes.
    Maybe the county can ask to take this section of the road over from FDOT, and in doing so request that bike lanes be included by FDOT.


  4. JM Palacios says:

    It would seem that FDOT District 6 forgot about the lawsuit against FDOT District 4 over A1A in Palm Beach County. Looking at the typicals on Miami Bike Scene it appears altogether too similar. I’ll see whether I can enlighten them on the subject.


  5. Felipe Azenha says:

    Thanks JM! We sure could use your help down here in District 6!


  6. [...] infrastructure aren’t taking autocentric streets lying down anymore. They’ve been galvanized, in part, by recent statements from U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood that indicate federal support for [...]


  7. [...] resurfacing projects in District 6.  Last night about 35 cyclists attended an open house in which FDOT told the attendees that bicycle lanes would not be included in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project; so much for public [...]


  8. Javier Fernandez says:

    Kathryn –

    You should advise Rep. Anitere Flores, Rep. Erik Fresen, & Rep. Robaina of the Dist. Secretary’s posture. Flores & Robaina are running for Senate seats this cycle. Robaina, being a former Mayor for S. Miami, should know better than most that the conditions there are dangerous for both cyclists and drivers. As someone who frequently drives that stretch of road, I know I would feel better if cyclists and motorists each had their owned defined spaces.

    Keep up the good work!



  9. Angel says:

    It’s all about bikes at TransitMiami. Aren’t there any TRANSIT issues to deal with? We’re wasting politico-time for recreational things here. Oh, wait, it’s the Sunset Drive area. Sorry, I forgot this area’s importance in the grand scheme of things. The rest of the county’s problems not that important.


  10. Felipe Azenha says:

    Bicycles are transportation and are not only used for recreation. If you are sincerely familiar with transit Miami you would know that we advocate for cycling as actual transportation too.


  11. Angel says:

    Yeah, I’ve been seeing that for that past several posts. And that would be really cool except that Sunset Drive is not usually known as a bike commuter by-way. Not a lot of workers going to and fro between Cocoplum and US1 on their bicycles. Yet so much time has been dedicated to this pet project. Letter to congress are being sent. Wouldn’t it be better to wake them up with something BIG. Even if it’s not where one lives but would help out a really large segment of the population. Once these guys get your letter and they paint some new lines or get a cop to hand out more tickets, their not gonna want to bother with you anymore. The worst part is that this won’t ripple into bigger needs. It will just be forgotten.


  12. Felipe Azenha says:

    You are probably right; more recreational cyclists use this route than actual commuters, but I also believe there are a lot of people using Sunset Drive to commute too. This area has three schools and a park; it is worthy of bicycle lanes and we should make a big stink. I thank those that are writing letters to congress. A precedent needs to be set with FDOT district 6. We should not be willing to accept poorly designed roads that are borderline criminal in their design (i.e MacArthur Causeway bike lanes).


  13. Angel says:

    I almost hate that I can predict what people are going to say next. Almost. “My place is pretty enough but I want more. I need to ride in the street next to distracted drivers. I don’t want the sidewalk or that barely cruised street one block over! Mine, mine, mine!”

    I don’t live in Lemon City but I’d rather see what limited funds there are go to NE 2nd Ave which has really cool sidewalks that disappear underwater… half of the year. Where the folks that don’t hop on a Jitney either walk or ride.

    There’s no blog pushing that because blogs are just devices for those who have access so they can moan about their already lovely lives. Anyway, you’re gonna take a while to think about this, then churn out something as bland as the entries above. OR, you can prove me wrong by rallying the 2 or 3 readers to do the better good.

    (LOL. I’m kidding. Go ahead and write the bland stuff. It’s all good.)


  14. Anonymous says:

    Blah Blah blah. angel: you are a moron. go spew your crap somewhere else. its clear from your comments that you are not very bright and are soley interested in a crusade against people who are simply advocating for improvements where they live!

    who are you to determine that others shouldnt get bike lanes in their neighborhoods if they want to try to get them. Bitter, part of one your table is now available. why don’t you stop worring about what others are doing and pay attention to your own neighborhood. loser


  15. Angel says:

    Anonymous? Seriously? My neighborhood is fine. Folks ride for fun, either on the sidewalk or on nice shady lanes. We have parks and rec centers. I pay extra taxes for that – even though I don’t take advantage of it. No worries. But when I leave my hood I see places in all directions where everyone drives through but never stop. And they completely ignore what they see. Then they go home and the cry about little things that they don’t really need. But they figure if they don’t spend it on that, the money will go to where it’s really needed. And that doesn’t suit them. It’s the opposite of NIMBY. (Google that later, Anon.)

    I just figured that if bloggers are going to go through all the trouble they’d best do it for everyone. What good is fixing up your little corner when the rest of the room looks like crap? Just cause the county commission works that way doesn’t mean that you should too.


  16. Felipe Azenha says:

    Just and FYI: None of us that write for Transit Miami live anywhere near Sunset, so chances of us ever using new bike lanes on Sunset are close to zero. We are not being selfish and trying to make our own little neighborhoods better; we are trying to make Miami better for everyone. We understand the big picture of things. Bike lanes on Sunset are meant for the greater good, that includes you Angel.


  17. Carlos says:

    Whats wrong with expanding how we get around?? I like the idea of expanding bike lanes to make it easier to get around!

    PS. Angel you are not suposed to ride on the sidewalk.


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