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Transit Miami and FDOT take a field trip on Brickell Avenue

A couple of weeks ago I met with FDOT representatives regarding the Brickell Avenue resurfacing project which will break ground sometime in January 2011. The project is expected to take two years to complete.  The scope of the project is relatively large and includes a new drainage system with pump house, as well as the resurfacing of Brickell Avenue.  New crosswalks and sidewalk lighting will be part of the upgrade too.

We decided to conduct our meeting more like a field trip and agreed to meet on the NE corner of Brickell Avenue and Coral Way. We spent about twenty minutes here and observed traffic patterns, pedestrians jay walking, and cyclists riding on the sidewalk.  I pointed out that cyclists were riding on the sidewalk because the design speed of Brickell Avenue exceeds 40 mph discouraging inexperienced cyclists from riding on the road. FDOT representatives disagreed somewhat with my assessment.  I tried to explain that if we calmed traffic and reduced the design speed and speed limit on Brickell Avenue to 30 mph, and added sharrows, cyclists would feel more comfortable riding on the road.  My suggestions for calming traffic included:

  • Narrowing the travel lanes from 11ft to 10 ft
  • Consider the use of raised crosswalks
  • Consider roundabouts (I was told there was not enough ROW)
  • Removal of green arrows that direct motorists to turn right on red
  • Make it illegal to turn right on red
  • Additional crosswalks (SE 14th Terrace SE 11th Street)

I was told that adding crosswalk wasn’t possible since FDOT has to follow strict guidelines that don’t allow traffic signals to be any closer than 300-400 yards from one another.  We need more crosswalks; period. Pedestrians should not be forced to cross 4 lanes of traffic without a proper crosswalk; nor should we be forced to walk 2-3 blocks to find a crosswalk. Crosswalk should not be placed every 2-3 blocks, but rather on every block. Lack of crosswalks forces people to jaywalk.

FDOT has until 2011 to implement sharrows. Currently there are no plans for them; however, the FDOT representatives did inform me that sharrows could possibly be included.  There is one caveat; sharrows can only be used on streets which have a speed limit below 35 mph. The area from SE 15th Street to SE 5th would qualify since the speed limit is 35 mph.  The area from SE 15th Street to SW 25th Street would not, since it has a 40 mph speed limit. I suggested the speed limit be reduced to 30 mph from SE 15th Street to SE 5th and also reduce the speed limit from SE 15th Street to SW 25th Street to 35 mph, thereby making all of Brickell Avenue sharrow worthy.

There is a lot more that FDOT should be doing, we only had 45 minutes and walked only about 5 blocks during our field trip. The FDOT representatives told me that I should work with the Miami DDA, local elected officials, and the Brickell Avenue Homeowners Association to make Brickell safer for pedestrians. Personally, I think FDOT needs to take the lead here. The lack of progressive urbanism on FDOT’s part is inexcusable and their autocentric focus needs to end.

I will be meeting with the Bickell Avenue Homeowners association, the DDA, Green Mobility Network, and hopefully Commissioner Sarnoff in the coming weeks.  We here at Transit Miami are not taking this project lightly and we need everyone’s help here. Please send an email to Gus Pego District 6 secretary and let him know you want and deserve a better Brickell Avenue.

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17 Comments

  1. Ayo says:

    I certainly agree with your assessment and your request for sharrows, additional crosswalks, and a slower speed. I also agree that FDOT needs to take the lead in bike pedestrian improvements. It is a good thing to see Transit Miami pushing FDOT in the right direction. Keep up the good work.

  2. Kyle Johns says:

    Thank you a million times over for your work! I agree completely with your assessment and I hope that they will listen to your suggestions and take them into consideration for Brickell Avenue. Thank you!

  3. Edward says:

    Focus on the design speed of the road. FDOT needs to see this as a local urban street with a design speed of 25-30 mph. Intersections can be closer, mid-block crossings can added, and trees can be planted.

    I would ask FDOT to compare their design to the new context sensitive design manual. This are new rules that provide the engineering know how for urban design.

    Verify the round about question. You need 135 feet max for a compact urban round about. One round about equals over four lanes of traffic at a traffic light. This may encourage a road diet.

  4. Eddie Suarez says:

    as a cyclist, I don’t think round abouts are bike friendly. They can be tricky to navigate when riding two abreast.

    Plus, how many vehicle drivers know how to properly proceed through a round about? They think its some sort of contest to see who can race through it the fastest.

  5. Kenneth G. says:

    As a cyclist, living within 2 blocks of two large new roundabouts, and having seen the before and the after conditions, I think roundabouts are very bike friendly. The main reason being that the traffic on a roundabout is not going faster than bicycling speed, and therefore it makes it very easy to act as any other vehicle.

    As to the other issue, I do hope we can make progress with FDOT. Certainly reducing the design speed of the road should be one of the top priorities.

  6. Felipe Azenha says:

    Sorry Eddy, but bicyclists are also gonna have to learn how to slow down for roundabouts. Roundabouts are a great traffic calming tool.

    Thanks again to all our readers for your support. Transit Miami wouldn’t be able to accomplish much if it weren’t for our readers. Please send Gus Pego an email. We count on your help to make Brickell and Miami better.

  7. Eddie Suarez says:

    Felipe, I won’t argue! Round abouts are new to all of us. Maybe we need an education campaign so we learn how they are supposed to work. I don’t know the exact rules so I slow down, look both ways, pray, and go…

  8. Felipe Azenha says:

    LOL. Sounds like the roundabouts are working if you are slowing down. I agree that many folks are not used to seeing them, but the more common they become, the more people will know how to navigate them properly.

  9. anonymous says:

    The speed limit should be reduced to 30 mph in all downtown streets including Brickell. many smaller ones are already. Sharrows would be great but do not need a reduced lane size. The crosswalks are an issue with FDOT. Really mid block crosswalks similar to Miracle Mile is needed.

  10. Felipe Azenha says:

    Simply reducing the speed limit on will have little to no effect on actual speed reduction. Narrowing travel lanes, along with adding sharrows, and more crosswalks will discourage people from speeding. As long as we have a road that is designed for cars to travel in excess of 40mph, people will continue to do so. We should also consider roundabouts and raised crosswalks to calm traffic.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Roundabouts will slow traffic, but they are terrible for pedestrians - especially multi-lane roundabouts as would be necessary on Brickell. As for ’sharrows’ slowing traffic, that’s a fantasy.

  12. Felipe Azenha says:

    I agree somewhat that multi-lane roundabouts may not be the best solution. That is why I prefaced by saying “consider”. Sharrows alone will not calm traffic, they should be used in conjunction with other traffic calming devices. There isn’t a silver bullet to calm traffic. Regardless I think we can agree that the speed limit and the design speed need to be reduced. FDOT is not bringing any new ideas to the table; just more of the same poor design; a purely cosmetic fix.

  13. Prem says:

    Anonymous,
    while sharrows may not slow traffic, they definitely create a visual barrier between where the bicyclists should be and where the cars should not be when passing a cyclist.
    It’s perhaps not as good as a bike lane, but it’s MUCH better than nothing.

  14. mr jones says:

    As a commuter and recreational rider, I much prefer roundabouts; everyone (car, van, bike) seems to get equal treatment. But as mentioned above, larger/busier roundabouts can be tricky for pedestrians. A raised/speed hump crosswalk with an on-request flashing pedestrian sign and/or flashing crosswalk (http://www.streetfilms.org/seattle-crosswalk-tap-foot-lights-blink-cross-street/) could be a solution? With a roundabout, we already have cars slowing down.. with a raised crosswalk right before the roundabout, we have cars slowing down a little bit sooner.. and maybe with an on-request flashing crosswalk/sign, we might have most cars yielding to pedestrians?

  15. For 20 years Brickell Homeowners Association has been advocating for slowing down our main street, Brickell Avenue, and making it safer for walkers, joggers, cyclists and the many other non-vehicular daily users. It’s all chronicled on the BHA website, where you’ll see we have had very limited success as the neighborhood’s objectives clearly don’t match FDOT’s vision for our our community’s main artery. We look forward to joining forces, as they ironically suggest!

  16. Found this site through a friend and glad I did. I completely agree with the suggestions made to FDOT. Downtown Miami / Brickell / and now even Midtown is very different from the rest of Florida and FDOT as well as every other Tallahassee organization needs to realize this. The Brickell / Downtown corridor has quickly become a metropolis (or the closest thing we have to one in the southeast) and as such the same traffic rules that work in other Florida cities are completely inadequate here. Major cities need crosswalks on every block to encourage more people to walk and to keep those same people safe. It’s frightening to see so many close calls with pedestrians and cars here, even on designated crosswalks! Is FDOT going to wait until a bunch of pedestrians die in the coming years (as Downtown/Brickell becomes even more populated) to make a change? That’s worked real well on the Rickenbacker where there’s seemingly an accident every week with cars/cyclists. As for cycling on Brickell Avenue, I completely avoid it for the reasons stated above. The cars go way too fast (and let’s not kid ourselves, in Miami the posted speed is looked at as a suggestion. People go way beyond 40 on Brickell) and don’t have room to yield at least 3 feet when passing. I stick to Miami Avenue where there’s a bike lane, there’s only one lane for traffic each way, and the speed limit is 30. Even then I have close calls with drivers not paying attention, so imagine Brickell Ave - there’s no chance.

  17. Eddie Suarez says:

    Great points Jose and speed limits here are laughed at because police don’t seem to give out speeding tickets. You can speed every day of your life and only get one ticket. Then 70 bucks to a ticket clinic and no points, no penalty, nada… you can laugh away your ticket.

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