Currently viewing the tag: "Blogsphere"

NetrootsTransit Miami is honored to have been nominated in the Best Local Blog Category of the 2008 Netroots Awards.  Voting is online and open to anyone through June 1, 2008 (Click here to Vote).  Show us some support!

Via SFDB (One of our strongest “competitors”…)

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Transportation Secretary Mary Peters

Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters entered the blogosphere on April 29 with a blog called the Fast Lane. Looks like FHWA, FTA, and other DOT officials will also contribute to the blog. Comments are allowed on the blog, so they are interested in a two-way conversation.

It is good to see transportation officials embracing modern communication methods. Let us hope Stephanie Kopelousus, Florida’s Transportation Secretary, follows the example and begins an official Florida DOT blog. Or it would be nice to see the District Secretaries blogging and taking comments from the public on local projects. Perhaps we could suggest it. Email the Secretary at fdot@dot.state.fl.us if you want to suggest the idea.

For our regular readers, you will definitely notice the changes.  For those who may be joining us for the first time, you’re looking at an evolution in progress.  TransitMiami has left Blogger as its platform for communicating with you, and has moved to WordPress.  WordPress offers a bit more flexibility, more stability, and loads more opportunity for managing the information we want to provide to you, our members.

As we continue to expand more into WordPress, to start using more of its capabilities, we may experience some growing pains.  For example, right now, some of our members are unable to see that we’re back up and running after a short break.  Problems like these should iron themselves out as the domain registrar change that just went through ripples through the Internet Blogosphere.

After these somewhat minor issues do work themselves out, and the lights come back on for all of our readers, our bloggers will soon learn that they have more tools at their hands that will enhance their experience of writing.  This should allow us to deliver the transit and urban development news to you faster, clearer, and in a format that is easy to read!

 

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To all our regular readers, the message below is a direct response to the recent criticisms presented by local blog Critical Miami:

We are not anti-car zealots, we strongly believe that the key to creating a sustainable community is a multi-modal transportation policy rather than the uni-modalism that currently overwhelms Miami-Dade. It appears that in the eyes of some, Transit Miami has lost its focus, becoming too obsessed with creating a city that is designed and navigable to humans, rather than the voluminous heaps of metal we all wander around in.

A Message from the Publisher

I started Transit Miami for one reason: because I care about my community. The way I see it, Miami has a potential that no other city does, a vibrancy no other community could dream of achieving. Sadly, in my 22 years of living here, I have witnessed nothing more than its potential crumble, eroded away in congestion, corrupt politics, and square mile after square mile of inauspicious development. In my travels abroad, to Paris, London, San Francisco, Vienna, and New York, among other places, I experienced the nature of true global cities and came back longing for the same characteristics that make those cities successful. Regarding thriving, diverse economies, unparalleled educational opportunities, a pulsating cultural scene, etc, it is often difficult to understand how all of the qualities* we want for our city are tied deeply to the urbanism which defines our landscapes.

After all, we find it alarming that on average Miamians spend 30% of their income on Transportation needs, don’t you? There is a better way to live.
-Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal

Clarity on the Issues

While we appreciate Critical Miami’s kudos and acknowledge their own fine work over the last few years, we definitely feel that it is their site that is out of touch with reality in this case. Perhaps Critical Miami is baffled because they are not likely educated on best practices in contemporary urban planning. Frankly, we find it contradictory that a site that calls for “holding the line” so adamantly would be so misunderstanding when it comes to better land-use policy.

To be clear, Transit Miami never stated that worsening driving conditions was the best way to improve transit. In fact, we stated the opposite, “Additional parking will increase congestion…” The developer, not Transit Miami, originally proposed the position of hampering a vehicle’s ability to access the EWT development. We supported his decision and original plans to reduce parking capacity at EWT due to the direct links his structure would have with the adjacent Metromover structure (just as we supported reductions in parking at the Coconut Grove Metrorail Transit-Oriented Development) and never once suggested making driving more difficult, only parking.

Critical Miami mentions several times that “making driving more difficult” is political suicide and is essentially foolish. What about traffic-calming? Wouldn’t Critical Miami agree that traffic calming makes streets safer and livable for everyone, perhaps at the expense of a little speed for the motorist? If you support traffic calming in any capacity, it makes your statements about making driving appear paradoxical.

The interesting part is, we aren’t even advocating for anything drastic. For example, we promote the Miami Streetcar project, which calls for constructing a streetcar line through one of the densest and fastest-growing urban corridors in the state. This is not very drastic at all, especially in a city with a woefully underdeveloped mass transit system and sizable low-income population. We promote decreases in minimum parking standards. This is not so radical either since it reduces the overall development cost, making housing more affordable. There is a sizable body of scholarly literature available that correlates the underlying message of our letter: increasing parking capacity increases driving demand like dangling a carrot for cars.

Sustainability, Miami’s Growing Problem

Miami-Dade County, as it currently stands, is one of the most unsustainable metros in America. You can analyze this from a variety of angles, but you will always end up reaching the same conclusion: our actions will have devastating economical, environmental, and social costs if we do not change. If you want to look at it from a mobility/accessibility/congestion standpoint, Miami is incredibly unsustainable under a current unimodal paradigm and without change, it will become a less and less viable place to live and conduct business. Traffic congestion and VMTs (vehicle miles traveled) are expected to increase significantly between now and 2025. Contrary to what Critical Miami and most Americans believe, it simply is not economically or spatially feasible to build your way out of congestion (i.e. build more highways/widen roads.)

This means two things: in order to be more sustainable from a transportation perspective we must improve and expand our transit capacity and we must improve our accessibility. The transit component is straight forward enough. However, continuing the auto-centric status quo gives the illusion that we do not have to change our transportation habits and there will always be some fix or policy to make things better for driving. This could not be further from the truth and is flat out irresponsible. This is why we are against excessive minimum parking requirements, because it is like mandating more beer for an alcoholic.

Regarding the second component, accessibility, this means changing our zoning to allow mixed land uses and creating higher densities. This will enable people to travel shorter distances for their employment, retail, commercial, recreational, and residential purposes (if they so chose.)

Note: the goal of changing our land use policy is to enable people to have a choice when it comes to personal mobility, where walking or driving can be considered equal alternatives. This is a fundamental component of transportation equity.

This increases the viability of walking and cycling, which incidentally is the cheapest way to get around. However, if you continue down the auto-centric policy paradigm, you are not facilitating the type of conditions that make walking, cycling, transit, and higher density a formidable option.

Transit Miami’s Global Comparisons

Regarding the division between the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, of course it is the county that operates the local transit agency. This is likely the root of many of the problems we will face in this region over the coming decades; our inability to work together due to the multiple bureaucratic layers we have created because of perceived political injustices. This fragmented landscape of local municipalities will only serve a divisive role when it comes to regional planning initiatives.

Ryan never said or even implied that Miami was going to have a transit system like Montreal’s – he simply implied that Montreal had a quality transit system and that Miami should strive to improve theirs in order to achieve a higher transit standard and all the external benefits that go along with it. That is tough to misconstrue. In addition, he never mentioned or even remotely implied that Miami needed to “grow a mountain” to have a grand urban park. That is very clear for anyone reading that section, and it seems to me that either you grossly misread it or cherry picked that part and took it out of context to support your own point.

Transit Miami often uses global comparisons to drive home points visually to our readers on the effects of better public transit and land-use policy in other cities.

Bicycle as a means of Transportation, not just a Vacation

We don’t recall any sort of official “challenge,” however Critical Miami is unequivocally wrong about their assertion that such a program cannot work anywhere in Miami. Just because Critical Miami is a bike enthusiast doesn’t mean you understand how bicycling systems operate or can function in an urban setting. South Beach offers the perfect place for a pilot program, at a minimum. Transit Miami is in the process of working closely with our local agencies to see such a plan come to fruition, we invite Critical Miami to attend any of the local Bicycle Action Committees to air their sentiments.

Regarding Critical Miami’s comments about it taking generations to enact the type of changes we advocate, this has been proven otherwise. Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, created a thriving bicycle network in his city and within just five years captured 5% of the daily transportation needs. It just so happens that Mr. Penalosa was recently in Miami, meeting with Miami officials to discuss their plans to create a bicycle network in this city, a meeting that this blogger was privileged enough to attend. Looking beyond bicycles, formerly auto-centric cities like Perth, Australia, with guidance from visionaries like Peter Newman, have transformed into legitimate multi-modal communities in just 20 years or so, which is well within the time frame of the county’s current Long Term Plan and the City of Miami’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Development Plan.

The fact of the matter is that changes occur when the funding (and mentality) is there in support. Sure, cities evolve and mature and most changes do not occur overnight, but the mentality Critical Miami presents falls in line with the mentality that has accomplished nothing in Miami over the past several decades.

-This article represents the views of the entire Transit Miami Staff…

Mayor Diaz is the latest Blogger to join the Miami Blog Scene. We’ll be adding his site to the sidebar and following it regularly. Welcome Mayor Diaz!

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Facial Expressions when Boarding a Train (About:Blank)
  • Transit Miami gets a nice shout out for bike advocacy (Riptide 2.0)
  • Circular Sprawl Communities from the sky (Deputy Dog)
  • The A2 is the latest plan for Eco-friendly Hypersonic flight, capable of reaching Mach 5 without a single Carbon Emission (Luxist)
  • The 5 most incredible (alternative) school locations around the world (Deputy Dog)
  • America’s Greenest Cities (Popular Science)
  • Miami adds some Bike Parking along Coral Way (Spokes ‘n’ Folks)
  • A Building too Sophisticated for LEED certification (Inhabitat)
  • Sweden’s Ice Hotel (Bldg Blog)
  • Vintage Streetcar Artist (Telstar Logistics)
  • Benefits of Pint Sized Parks (Streetsblog)

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Apparently blogging your opinion on a local condo development could get you fired, sued, or both! Lucas Lechuga, of Miami Condo Investments, was the lucky recipient of a $25 million defamation lawsuit from Miami developer Tibor Hollo for writing:
”My opinion is that this development is doomed…”

And:

“This developer went bankrupt in the 1980’s and I think we’ll see a repeat performance within the next 6 months. What do I know, though? I’m no real estate oracle.”

Apparently Hollo didn’t go bankrupt in the 80’s and wants to set the record straight. Meanwhile EWM’s Ron Shuffield felt the blog illustrated a negative connotation and plans to review with their 800+ Realtor staff the do’s and don’t of blogging…

I believe this whole thing has been blown disproportionately out of the water, starting with an exorbitant $25 million for defamation. How can anyone quantify that much in damages to begin with? Luckily for Lechuga, the lawsuit likely won’t hold much water in court according to herald interviews with local attorneys. From what I can tell, this has the appearance of a glorified publicity stunt amid a crumbling housing market. Who am I to say anyway? Only time will tell…

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Staring at defeat and adversity, MVB has chosen to call it quits. Once resolutions passed essentially creating a new Marlins’ ballpark at the OB, creating the port tunnel, and initializing funding for the Miami streetcar, we guess the administrators of MVB saw no valid reason to keep the site going. Vert’s wacky humor (monorail ideas included) will be missed and yet another voice in the planning community has succumbed to the pressures of our given market…Farewell MVB…

Given the sudden disappearances of Bob: Miami, stuck on the palmetto, and the disbandment of MVB, we would like to assure our readers that the writers of Transit Miami remain committed to serving the best interests of our community. It is, after all, our only intention to better the community we live in and create public spaces which are livable for all Miamians…

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