Currently viewing the category: "Miami Beach"

Visitors flock to Miami Beach from around the globe for many reasons – the sun and sand, Art Deco architecture, world-class nightlife, restaurants and a vibrant arts scene.

But the subject of national headlines these days about Miami Beach is enough to make anyone cringe - the proliferation of ‘designer’ parking garages.

A new piece in the Wall Street Journal highlights the unhealthy obsession with parking that consumes Miami Beach. This article comes on the heels of a New York Times story from last year illustrating more of the same.

While reading the latest WSJ story, a quotation from Victor Dover, chair of the Congress for New Urbanism, rang through my head.

“Parking is a narcotic and ought to be a controlled substance. It is addictive, and one can never have enough.”

The mutated Chia Pet garage at 630 Collins features 'greenwashing' at it's finest. The designer Arquitectonica claims the vegetation will 'absorb carbon dioxide''. I suppose this is so the Hummer drivers can feel better about themselves. Photo courtesy of Architizer.

Sure, it’s long past due that builders are finally adding some additional utility to parking garages beyond their primary purpose of storing motor vehicles. But let’s not allow ourselves be distracted by the fancy adornments. A new parking garage is a still parking garage. Dressing it up with a restaurant on top is akin to putting a silk hat on a pig.

It’s still a pig.

More parking encourages more driving, which increases congestion and diminishes the livability and civility of the city. The addiction to parking that is deeply ingrained in Miami Beach knows no bounds. I can only describe it as a ‘fetish-ization’ of vehicular storage. With the newly-constructed ‘designer’ garages and three more parking-centric projects on the way throughout South Beach, I am beginning to wonder just how many more cars can cram on that narrow sliver of sand before it sinks into Biscayne Bay. Perhaps those airy parking garages will someday make a nice artificial reef.

The new Frank Gehry bunker on Pennsylvania Avenue. It lights up at night. This is supposed to make us feel better. Photo courtesy of Architizer.

There is a compelling argument that Miami Beach has reached ‘peak car’, meaning the street grid can no longer accommodate additional vehicles in a comfortable manner at the current capacity. Anyone that participates in the sadistic practice of motoring in South Beach can attest to that (or walking for that matter). The relentless pursuit to make Miami Beach more friendly to cars is a serious distraction from taking the steps that could make Miami Beach more friendly to people. That includes enhanced pedestrian mobility, improved bicycling infrastructure, dedicated bus lanes or bus rapid transit, improved public spaces and – glaringly obvious – a viable rail connection to the mainland.

The 'City Hall Annex' 7-story parking emporium. Miami Beach now holds the dubious distinction of having a better engineered parking facility for city hall than the actual city hall building itself. Shows where the priorities lie.

Superficially addressing these issues won’t cut it. A bike path here and a better crosswalk there is progress but quickly negated by new parking monstrosities and the increased vehicular traffic they attract. There needs to be a step-change in thinking, a paradigm shift in what Miami Beach stands for. The first step is to remove our heads from our collective exhaust pipes. Then, hire a qualified pedestrian and bicycle coordinator in city government like all modern cities employ. The truly modern cities actually listen to that person as well.

Safer, improved mobility options will lessen the crazed addiction to parking. It will allow our civic leaders and officials to have meaningful dialogue about the future of the city free from the incessant, distracting conversation over the storage of cars. Perhaps then the ‘starchitects’ will stop building garages and instead help build public schools that look more like important places worthy of our affection and less like insecticide factories.

The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city. - Lewis Mumford, 1964.

Right now, it's a temporary home for cars at $4 an hour. In the future, it could be a permanent home for coral and lionfish. Photo courtesy of Architizer.

You have to admit, the garage-building boom is all the more appalling when you consider the geography of Miami Beach, only a few feet above sea level and surrounded by water on all sides. With the threat of rising sea levels attributed to carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, I would think that Miami Beach would have quite a vested interest, even if symbolic, in preventing their island from becoming the next City of Atlantis. More garages just encourage more driving, and therefore more emissions. It’s like watching a slow-motion film of the city’s own demise.

Miami Beach must decide - is it a city for cars or a city for people? Based on the national headlines lately, the answer is pretty clear.

(In other news, an innocent pedestrian was struck and killed yesterday morning on Collins Avenue by a drunk, underage reckless driver in a speeding SUV. Another tragic by-product of an overpoweringly auto-centric culture.)

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At the City of Miami Beach’s Neighborhoods and Community Affairs Committee meeting today, City staff attorneys were directed to challenge the Florida State Statutes that require the inclusion of bicycle facilities on state roads, and protested the inclusion of bike lanes on the Alton Road reconstruction project on the same safety grounds that require the facility contained in the Statute.

You might remember that Transit Miami has been pushing the department to consider alternatives to a traditional bike lane since the first time FDOT ventured on the island back in June of 2008 . We later reported on the progress of the project here and here, all the while hoping that FDOT would try using more that one tool in their bicycle planning toolbox. Finally, after years of lobbying and advocacy, FDOT presented several alternative options for a bicycle facility on Alton Road at the quarterly progress report on the $40 million dollar project.

Too bad Miami Beach City Commissioner’s told FDOT to take their bike lanes and put them, well, somewhere else.

Not only that, Commissioner Gongora  convinced his fellow policymakers of the idea to attack the law requiring FDOT to consider other users for the roads they build and maintain.  The Commission added to the Legislative Agenda of their paid Tallahassee lobbyist  to get the provision of the Florida Statutes 335.065 removed or changed by giving the municipalities the ability to opt out of bicycle facilities required by the DOT. (Mind you we are talking about Miami Beach  - arguably some of the best urbanism in the entire State of Florida, and the one place most poised to take advantage of a well designed bicycle network.)

So today FDOT comes back.  The Mayor had said that the bike lanes should not be next to the flow of traffic but between the curb and the parked cars  - a parking protected cycle track.

FDOT showed that.

That required a three-foot buffer between the four-foot bike lane and the 8-foot parking lane, reducing the sidewalk to six feet.

Then Commissioner Ed Tobin, who used his power while he sat on the MPO, asked for a physically separate cycle track.

FDOT showed that.

That resulted in an Alton Road with 10-foot sidewalks and a four-foot bike lane separated with a four-foot jersey wall from the traffic, but no parking lane.

FDOT then showed an option with a 16-foot sidewalk and four-foot bike lanes, and again with no parking.

For it’s part the City’s Public Works Department showed their alternative which was to make West Avenue an alternative to having a bike lane on Alton Road. FDOT responded by requiring that all the numbered east-west streets between Fifth and Michigan Avenue be retrofitted with bike lanes, which would require millions of dollars the City would have to borrow and permanent removal of 56 parking spaces.

The kicker is that work would have to be done before FDOT gets started on Alton Road.

So we’re back to  Alton Road.

You have the heap on the credit to FDOT. We are used to giving them hell here on Transit Miami, but we have to give credit where credit is due. They have done a lot of work and shown they can see a different type of road in the future for many of our city’s streets. They should make certain that all of their projects get such attention to detail in nurturing the mix of users. FDOT is realizing it’s responsibility to make getting from one place to another as enjoyable and safe as possible for everyone.

Not just those in cars.

And that’s what we need.  We need to stop building the same old roads that provide for only one type of mobility.  Alton Road needs more people walking, taking transit, and riding a bike- not driving in their cars.

Commissioners Jerry Libbin, Michael Gongora and Jonah Wolfson disagree and voted to challenge whatever design FDOT plans to build on Alton Road that includes a bike facility - on safety grounds.

It was one of the most twisted uses of the law I have ever seen. 40 years of research and data supporting the safety and efficacy of bike lanes by the Federal Highway Administration and the current work of Dr. Jennifer Dill dismissed by two lawyers and a politician.

The City is doing its best NOT to have FDOT build a complete street. I pray every night the City would use half the effort it puts into fighting bike facilities, into building them along with better sidewalks and crosswalks.

Where were these same politicians when FDOT used the Baylink infrastructure promised to us when they rebuilt the Macarthur for the port tunnel?

And with everything in South Beach going down the tubes,  except the water, faster than you can say Atlantic City, the only hope we have for a stable economic future and decent quality of life is to allow for more mobility on this tiny island through as many modalities we can offer, not just expecting everyone to get around Miami Beach in a car.

We need this Alton Road reconstruction project - but we also need better mobility on Miami Beach. I am dismayed at the lack of vision in this community.  Everyone on a bike or on foot, on a board or on skates or in a stroller or wheelchair or scooter is a person not in their car.

What a wonderful place this could be.

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25 people showed up to the public meeting Tuesday night at the Miami Beach Regional Library.  It was an open format, with the project laid out on two long tables and key personnel available to answer questions and take comments.

One table featured a visual summary of the crash data, and one table showed the proposal from a bird’s eye view.

Mayor Matti Bower thanked everyone for coming, even if, “they [FDOT] never do anything I ask.”

There were several members of Miami Beach City Staff there:  two engineers from Public Works, Rick Saltrick and Diane Fernandez.  Fred Beckman, the Public Works Director was there, as well as Assistant City Manager Duncan Ballantyne and Community Outreach maven Lynn Birnstein.

Beckman, Bernstein and Ballantyne were there mainly to facilitate the participation of Marlo Courtney of Goldman Properties and Michael Comras, of the Comras Company, two prominent developers, who along with Realtor Lyle Stern and other property owners in the area have formed the Collins Avenue Improvement Association, (CIA).

CIA in turn, has hired engineering consultant Ramon Castella of C3TS in Coral Gables. It is heartwarming to see civic leaders like these gentlemen take such an active role in making our streets better.  I, for one, am grateful for their efforts.

The CIA is working with the City Managers’ office, who has pledged to use quality of life funds to enhance the project. This extra cash will amp up a once vanilla RRR (Road Resurfacing and Reconstruction) project into a “mini mod” with new sidewalks, new curbs, landscaped bump outs and an additional amount of drainage.

Oh yes, and the addition of the 10 foot left turn lane.  But I digress.

As merchants, the CIA are really focused on sidewalks.  The sidewalks along this corridor are not only old and broken, but are really small. Between 5 and 6.5′.  Add to that the massive amount of regulatory and way-finding signs, street furniture and café seating plus the large numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists, and it doesn’t take the other CIA to figure out Collins Avenue needs more sidewalks.

FDOT, happily, is committed to making the sidewalks as wide as possible, without moving the curbs.  This means they will have to aggressively pursue encroachments.  We wish them well.  On Miami Beach, we sometimes loose 5-6 feet of public right of way on any given corridor to private landscaping or even hard construction due to these types of encroachments.  The CMB policy, for the most part, has been one of  “Don’t ask, don’t take.” This works well to quell the fear of construction for adjacent property owners, but does little to enhance transportation.

Unfortunately, CIA is so focused on picking out streetlamps and placing parking stations, trashcans and benches, that they have lost sight of the big picture. Addressing the congestion on Collins Avenue that makes the entire experience of being there unpleasant and unsafe for everyone.

FDOT is addressing the unsafe conditions -   at least for cars. In the July 2011 Safety Study done by CH Perez and Associates, they document how unsafe Collins Avenue is for cars.  They looked at reported crash data for a three-year period, (2007-2009).  1,152 crashes in three years gets you on FDOT’s High Crash List.  84% were property-damage only crashes. 29% of crashes were rear end, 23% sideswipe and 18% involved a park car. 6% of all crashes involved a pedestrian (2/3) or bicycle, (1/3) and of those 67 crashes, 85% resulted in injuries.

Good news is there were no fatalities during the study period. Bad news is we know how under reported bicycle-car accidents are.

The report names aggressive driving as the number one probable cause for the crashes, and believes the lack of a left turn lane is to blame.

And so, the hardworking and dedicated engineers, project managers and safety specialists who are working on this project use the extra ten-feet (gained by narrowing the parking lane and travel lanes) to add an extra lane of traffic.

In reality, the added travel lane will only make the problem worse by adding to the congestion of Collins Avenue, which will ramp up the aggression, which will cause more accidents.

Anyone who has ever been on Collins Avenue knows the score, especially at unsignalized intersections.  Cars wait in the travel lane to make that left-hand turn.  And wait and wait because of the congestion.  Cars two and three behind them whiz around on the right when then can, often grazing the parked cars, shouting expletives and showing the finger.  The driver waiting to make the turn finally sees an opening and makes a dash, only to be stopped short by the pedestrian or bicyclist he did not see because he was so focused on the cars coming at him in speeds that range from the posted 30 to 35 MPH.  When the waiting driver makes his move, either a pedestrian or bicyclist gets hit or a chain reaction of rear-end collisions happen behind him. (As an aside, this craziness of the modulating posted speed limit should be addressed immediately, bringing the posted speed limit to 30 throughout the corridor.  I would like to see 25, but that’s just me.)

The left turn lane allows traffic to continually move through the corridor while allowing three cars to stack up waiting to make that elusive left turn.

This will induce latent demand and add capacity - and traffic - to the roadway. More cars on Collins Avenue are not the answer. More pedestrians are key to restoring the economic preeminence of this retail district.  You do that by making the sidewalks safer by moving the bicycles into a dedicated lane.

Additionally, the bike lane will help encourage users of Collins Avenue who are not in cars.  More people biking and walking equals more choices for people to get around.

The best part is that in 20 years when we get a wholesale reconstruction of the corridor, we will have shifted the travel mode from 90% percent cars to 20% cars.  Justifying removing the turn lane and extending the sidewalks and adding landscaping.

Adding bike lanes now is the seed required to achieve that future. Unfortunately none of the project managers ride a bicycle.  I have invited them all to try it: on Collins now.  Or ride the sharrows on Washington Avenue and see how that feels.  They need to see there is more than one way to solve the problem they have defined, and there is a better solution is to deal with the root cause, not just add too it.

Please send an email to the man in charge, Harold Desdunes at harold.desdunes@dot.state.fl.us.  He assured me he would have the engineers take another look at the study, but they need to put their bike helmets on to do it.  Send an email asking for their support. My City Manager, Jorge Gonzalez said he direct staff to ask for the bike lane.  It’s a start, but the Department is rushing to complete the plans.  Time is of the essence!

All is not lost, but your help is needed to prod FDOT in the right direction.

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Call  me crazy, but I am the type of girl who likes to go to public meetings about road construction. They speak to me about the promise for a better future.  I especially like the ones when I know at the end of the awful, dirty, dusty, jarring process, a new bike lane will be born.

So I was excited about the FDOT upcoming meeting to roll out the $2.5 million dollar project on A1A in Miami Beach,  from Fifth Street to Lincoln Road.  I have been waiting for this project for years, watching the funding shift to and fro from year to year in the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP, yes I get excited about them too!)  I was happy because last spring, the Department came up with a Bicycle Master Plan for all of A1A in District 6 that called for a bike lane on almost all of Collins Avenue!

Be still my heart!

I was thrilled to see in this project moving forward, with a projected start date of May 2013.   They plan to narrow the parking lanes, narrow the travel lanes, reconstruct a few blocks to gain ROW, all the right moves……  BUT

My heart stood still…..

THEY DID NOT INCLUDE THE BIKE  LANES.

So where oh where did the bike lanes go? And for whom will the ROW be?

Looks like that gained right of way is being added to allow for an exclusive left turn lane throughout the whole segment, i.e. MORE  CAR TRAFFIC!

You can make a difference in putting this project back on proper footing!

Send an email to any of these FDOT officials and ask them to include a bike lane in Project Numbers 250236-1-51-01 and 250236-3-52-01.  SRA1A/Collins Avenue from 5th Street to Lincoln Road. You may even want to remind them they already said they would!

Heidi.Solaun@dot.state.fl.us

Rita.Bulsara@dot.state.fl.us

Gus.Pego@dot.state.fl.us

Copy the local elected officials in Miami Beach:

MayorBower@miamibeachfl.gov

Michael@miamibeachfl.gov

Deede@miamibeachfl.gov

Jorge@miamibeachfl.gov

Ed@miamibeachfl.gov

Jonah@miamibeachfl.gov

Jerry@miamibeachfl.gov

COME TO THE PUBLIC MEETING

MONDAY, October 25, 2011

Miami Beach Regional Library

227 22nd Street, Collins Park, Miami Beach

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

This is more than a RRR.  This is a chance to enhance mobility by improving modality for bicycles by designating a lane in which to build the share.

Hope to see you there.

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[ipaper id=69633620 width=450]

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Transit Miami correspondent Daniel Perez has this to say:

“ Oh man, you don’t know the half of it. At this last Bikeways Committee meeting Mayor Bower showed up - first time in 5 years - and she all but said she hates bikes. If there were no bikes on South Beach she would be one happy lady. I swear, it took all I had to keep a straight face.”

This is not the first time I’ve heard similar comments from her.  For nearly a half decade I tried to get the City of Miami Beach to allow pedicabs to operate on South Beach. At one point Mayor Matti Bower personally said to me, “Enough with these pedicabs and bicycles…we already have too many, and the skateboards too…”

Another Transit Miami source from within the City of Miami Beach staff has overheard her making negative comments about bicycles as well.

These comments are shameful Mayor Bower.  Miami Beach desperately needs more people biking and walking not less.  Your blind leadership is unacceptable.  Think big picture please.  Now is the time for you to hire a pedestrian and bicycle coordinator to show that you are serious about making Miami Beach more walkable and bikeable.

Please send Mayor Bower an email letting her know that her negative comments about bicycles are unacceptable.

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Believe it or not, but the most densely populated and arguably most walkable city in Florida does not have a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. Actually, please let me clarify- the City of Miami Beach had a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, but decided to eliminate this position two years ago when the position became vacant.  Yep, you read that correctly. Miami Beach, a city where people walk and bike everywhere does not consider cyclists and pedestrians seriously enough to merit a full-time position.  This is truly amazing to me. Well, I guess it just goes to show where the city’s priorities are.

Sources close to Transit Miami informed us that about two years ago the Budget Advisory Committee that is comprised of residents appointed by commissioners and the mayor (as well as a CPA and Financial Advisor) voted against keeping this position. I believe the funds for the position where shifted to create a position in the Public Works Department. Shameful.

South Beach in particular, desperately needs a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. Now that Deco Bike, the city’s new bike share program is in full swing, they city should prioritize the expansion of its almost non-existent bicycle infrastructure. So what do you say Miami Beach?  Are you gonna step-up and deliver?

There is a lot of work to be done on Miami Beach to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.  If and when the city does hire a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, the first step would be to commission a proper Miami Beach Bicycle Master Plan. I remember reviewing the city’s current bicycle master plan a couple of years ago and saying “Wow, this is really awful.”  You can find more information about the Miami Beach Bicycle Program here.

Please email City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and let him know that Miami Beach needs a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

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Watch out motorists-you never know when a cyclist may have a video camera or two hooked up to a bicycle.

Earlier this week a motorist on Miami Beach was handcuffed and arrested for aggravated assault, a felony. Friend of Transit Miami, Ken, informed us that a driver of a SUV road-raged and threatened Ken with his car on South Beach. The driver and Ken exchanged a few words, but the driver decided to escalate the situation by nearly running Ken off the road. Lucky for Ken he spotted a Miami Beach cruiser and made him aware of the circumstances and the officer pulled over the SUV. Needless to say the driver of the SUV told a different story. His B.S. fairy-tale quickly came to an end after Ken revealed that he had two cameras attached to his bicycle. Unfortunately only one camera was working, but it was enough for the officer to clearly see the driver was the aggressor.

Well done Miami Beach Police! Keep up the good work and professionalism!

This contrasts starkly to an unfortunate situation earlier this week in which the Miami Beach Police department did not handle a car/bicycle collision properly. Transit Miami friend, Gabriela, was clipped by a car and the driver left the scene of the accident. Gabriela called the MBPD and requested an accident report. Even with the cars’ tag number, a witness, and a damaged bicycle the police officer said there was nothing he could do.

We’ll continue to report the good, the bad, and the ugly….We like reporting the good too.

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Transit Miami friend Gabriela was rear ended by a car while stopped at a red light on South Beach this past weekend. The driver did pause to make sure she was ok, but then took off. Gabriela then called the police to file a report and was told by the officer that the MBPD could do nothing for her.  This is what she had to say:

“ On Sunday afternoon I was riding my bicycle along West Avenue on south beach when a woman leaving Whole Foods failed to come to a complete stop and rolled into my back tire shoving me into the road. Luckily I was unscathed but my bike tire is completely bent leaving my bike (main form of beach transportation) un-ridable.
The woman paused to ask if I was ok- when I told her that I was fine but my bike was damaged she said ‘sorry’ and continued to turn north on West Avenue and drove away. I was shocked that she left the scene of the accident for which she was at fault. I called the police and filled out a report (including eye-witness information) with an obstinate police officer (to put it kindly) who basically told me that I could fill out a report but nothing could be done about it.”

She goes on to say:

“I gave the tag, car description and driver description to the cop along with witness contact info… The cop made it clear that nothing would be done about it…”

All I can say is “Wow”.

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I received the following email from Miami Beach transportation activist Gabrielle Redfern, on an upcoming speaking engagement against a new proposed scheme by the City of Miami Beach. If you can attend, you will find the information below.

Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club

PRESS RELEASE

Meeting Date:       Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Meeting Time:      8:30 AM
Meeting Place:     David’s Café II, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach

Miami Beach civic activist Gabrielle Redfern, speaks out against the city’s proposed fifty million dollars in Parking Bonds (debt), as this week’s guest speaker at the September 21st meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club .

Gabrielle has been investigating the finances of the city Parking Department, which brings in some thirty million dollars a year, and has formed some strong opinions as to the benefits (or harm) to taxpayers of taking on so much new debt, especially with our difficult financial situation.  Her objective is to further the development of an integrated and managed high-tech transportation and parking system, which she believes the terms of the new bonds might hinder.

Gabrielle is county commissioner Sally Heyman’s appointee to the Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee and a member of the Mayor’s Miami Beach Blue Ribbon Committee on Bikeways.  She also served as vice-chair of the MPO’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and is a member of the city’s Design Review Board.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club
For more information contact David Kelsey .  To be placed on the Breakfast Club ’s mailing list, contact Harry Cherry.  Both can be reached at TuesdayMorningBreakfastClub@Yahoo.com

Visit our new web site at: http://www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club ).

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Transit Miami received this email regarding Euclid Avenue from Gabrielle Redfern, on behalf of BASIC (Bicycle Activists for a Safe, Integrated City)

Another day, another bicycle facility on the chopping block in the City of Miami Beach.  Current plans call for dedicated bike lanes on this road when it gets reconstructed in the nearer future. Even with out the new curb and gutter that the avenue is programmed to get, this 70 foot behemoth of a local road could benefit today from a little TLC, in the form of a small coat of paint, say running down each side of the lanes of traffic to narrow the car roadway to slow traffic and make more room for bikes.  But no.  The neighbors will have none of it!

Long story short:  what say you?  If you cannot make it tomorrow, no worries.  This is just the first skirmish in what looks like a long war, and this battle will pay out in other conference rooms, and perhaps the Commission Chambers before all is said and done.  BASIC objects to all this plan revision in the City of Miami Beach that involves removal of bicycle facilities.”

The extra large lanes, with no bike lanes, currently encourage a speedway effect from the foot of the Macarthur to Lincoln Road.  Few lights, very residential, no trees, it is the perfect street to use in your car when traveling north south, avoiding Alton or even the scenic park-side Meridian. (If you never knew, and I blew it for the neighbors, I am sorry.)  Something needs to be done, that is certain. I spent much time riding it yesterday, and this road is ugly, unsafe and hot! And thank God plans are in the works to make it so much better.  But reconstruct a roadway, with 70 feet of ROW and not add dedicated bike lanes?  Bike lanes currently called for in the City’s own Master Plan?  That is what the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association plans to argue for in their streetscape sections before the committee on Wednesday. No bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.

To be fair, the neighborhood is proposing extra wide sidewalks they think will be good for sharing between pedestrians and bicycles.  However, we disagree on this, the nature and manner of providing for bicycles.  They see bicycles as recreation only.  BASIC demands bicycles be given equal attention to cars in the transportation grid.  We need a complete street that accommodates pedestrians, bicycles and cars.  In that order.  On that, the neighbors and I agree.  How we get there, well, that is another battle brewing….

So how do we meet them halfway?  (I pray daily to avoid war with folks I respect and admire).  In the hope we can come to common ground, BASIC proposes a street section that includes two foot swales in front of all properties; providing for 12-foot sidewalks, clear of signs and other obstructions; a five foot street-side swale for landscaping and signage; two, one way, 15 foot travel lanes, with sharrows, separated by a two foot landscaped median. Currently all properties program right up to the sidewalk.  Providing those landowners with two feet of green space running the length of their property will increase their property value.  It would make for a beautiful street, in our opinion.”

MIAMI BEACH MAYORS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE ON BIKEWAYS IN MIAMI BEACH

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2010 2:00 p.m. (although this item may be a time certain 3:00 p.m)

MAYOR’S CONFERENCE ROOM

FOURTH FLOOR MIAMI BEACH CITY HALL

666 17TH STREET

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA 33139

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The Miami Herald is reporting that the former home of The Jackie Gleason Show could be torn down to make room for a new hotel and the expansion of the Miami Beach convention center.

This project sounds like a really bad idea. The last thing Miami Beach needs right now is another hotel. The Fillmore is a beautiful historic building and provides a much needed small/medium sized venue for music. Live Nation, which currently operates the Fillmore, invested millions of dollars three years ago to renovate the building. Miami Beach needs a collection of buildings that represents its history; this collection creates an architecturally diversified urban environment which contributes to good urbanism. The Fillmore is a building we should keep, its part of our history and should not be demolished.

Please send City Manager Jorge Gonzalez an email to let him know that you do not support the demolition of this building.

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I’m a big fan of red light cameras, but I’m not a fan of putting them in the middle of the sidewalk. Not much consideration was given to people with disabilities or parents with strollers when they stuck this pole on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive. We shouldn’t place a large red light camera pole in the middle of a sidewalk. The Transit Miami Eye is looking at the details.

New red light camera pole placed in the middle of the sidewalk on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive.

You can read more about the red light cameras on Miami Beach here.

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The following arrived via email in my Inbox this morning, from Gabrielle Redfern.

Dear Friends:

At today’s CIPOC meeting, (5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chambers, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach), the BAYSHORE neighborhood will argue for a change in their neighborhood BODR that will narrow streets and remove bike lanes in plan, (Meridian Avenue among others), and already on the ground (Prairie Avenue).

This could be a turning point in the administration’s attempt to build a bicycle-friendly City, and coming in the middle of Bicycle Month, the newest NIMBY assault to implementing a Master Plan makes my heart very heavy, as these fine folks in Bayshore are my neighbors and friends.

According to traffic experts and planners, a well-used bike lane is the best, natural traffic-calming device.  My esteemed neighbors would rather force bikers and cars to share a 10-foot travel lane in hopes of slowing the cut through traffic in their ‘hood, rather than re-stripe wide streets and add dedicated bicycle facilities. Although we know their thinking this move will make the streets safer is wrong, their desires will be considered  seriously by appointed and elected officials alike, placing the misguided views of a few residents ahead of the infrastructure needs of an entire community.

Until our City builds the required network of marked bicycle lanes that folks and families feel comfortable riding in, gridlock will continue to be our way of life here and less people will take advantage of the natural tropical mobility we are blessed with.  Until we free the sidewalks of bikes, pedestrians will continue to walk in the streets, even in the dark of night.  Until we say no to the continuing shifting of bike lanes to the next block and build them when we can, we will never live up to our potential of an urban and green tropical paradise.

I hate to argue with people I love, but it looks like a good fight is necessary to serve the greater good of advocating strongly to continue on the path to build an interconnected bicycle lane network in our City.  I hope you will join me.

Gabrielle

It came with the following PDF attached: a copy of the Capital Improvement Project Oversight Committee Agenda.

Miami Beach is behind the curve as it is in regards to bicycle facilities; letting small groups dictate general city improvement decisions based on their short-range comfort should not only be avoided, but actively discouraged. We should be working for the betterment of the entire community.

If you are able to attend, please try to do so. If you can’t and are a resident of Miami Beach (especially if you are a resident of Bayshore and oppose this move), consider sending an email to the Mayor and all City Commissioners letting them know of your opposition to the proposed plan.

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