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TransitMiami_MiamiNewTimes_BestBlog2013The word is out! TransitMiami was declared best blog in The Miami New Times’ annual “Best of Miami 2013″ feature: “The Sunshine Strikes Back”.

We were fortunate to learn of this late last week, when The New Times published it’s Best of Miami preview, which just happened to highlight the winner of the best blog category only: TransitMiami!

Our fearless leader and slave-master, TransitMiami founder and editor-in-chief,  Gabriel Lopez-Bernal, wrote a piece evoking in all of us lowly contributors a spurt of happiness and pride for what he claims to be “volunteer” work (before immediately whipping us back to our unpaid servitude!).

We’re also smitten with what The Miami New Times had to say about us too:

In most towns, a blog about transportation would be a snore, but this is Miami. Our shared frustration over the simple task of getting from point A to point B makes our blood boil and unites us all in common ire, for our inane transport system might be the single biggest hurdle preventing the Magic City from becoming a truly world-class town.

Surprisingly, it’s an issue that often finds itself on the back burner among Miami’s media. Thankfully there’s Transit Miami, which has been churning out posts on everything from crosswalks to major Department of Transportation projects since 2006. It’s transportation-activist talk made accessible to the average man, and its multiple contributors take into account the perspectives of everyone from drivers to pedestrians.

In a world where blogging is now dominated by the need for traffic (the profitable web variety), it’s nice to know there’s a blog out there more interested in vehicular traffic.

This sort of recognition reinvigorates our efforts and reminds us of our reason for existing in the first place.

With — and only with — your continued readership and support, we’ll strive to continue fighting the good fight and writing the good write! The future of our beloved community depends on it.

Truly, thanks again, Miami!

Photo: Jacek Gancarz, Miami New Times

A recent article by Isaiah Thompson of the Miami New Times serves as yet another source showcasing cycling and why it should be a major mode of transportation in Miami-Dade. Below I’ve pasted some key points from the article, but if you have the time the entire piece is worth the read.

At first glance, there is nary a place on God’s green Earth better suited to biking than Miami. It’s utterly flat, with weather that lets a cyclist pedal year-round without donning so much as a scarf in January. Its streets are wide and, for the most part, arranged in a tidy, easily navigable grid.

Meanwhile, as Miami totters in place, more cities are looking to bicycles as an answer to everything from traffic congestion and air quality to fitness and green transportation. Paris recently unveiled the most ambitious bike-sharing plan in history, making more than 10,000 bikes available to borrow citywide for anyone with a credit card. American towns like Portland, Denver, San Francisco, and, closer to home, Gainesville, have transformed themselves in a few short years into some of the most bike-friendly places on the planet. New York, already boasting some 200 miles of bike lanes, plans to double that number in the next two years; Chicago proposes that by 2015, every one of its three million residents will live within half a mile of a bike lane.

Despite Miami Mayor Manny Diaz’s grandiose calls for the greening of Miami, the city possesses not a single finished bike lane; the only one under construction, on South Miami Avenue, is less than a mile long. And the county’s plan, adopted in 2001, states no specific targets whatsoever.

“We’re so far behind and in the dark with bikes it’s absurd,” says Chris Marshall, who owns the Broken Spoke bicycle shop at 10451 NW Seventh Ave. Marshall spent years campaigning for bike lanes and “greenways” to connect the beaches to the mainland, before finally throwing in the towel. “I’d say we’re stuck in the Sixties, but it’s worse than the Sixties,” Marshall says bitterly. “In the Sixties you could still get around by bike.”

A county map produced in 2001 grades every major Miami-Dade roadway based on traffic speeds and shoulder widths. Streets that receive an A for bikeability are drawn in black; those that get a D or worse are in red. The map is blanketed in red. From the largest six-lane monstrosities running like swollen rivers through the county, to the crowded, narrow streets of downtown, virtually every roadway is deemed unsuitable for biking. Of the 1.3 percent labeled A streets, the closest one to downtown is more than six miles west, a small forgotten residential byway that dead-ends at the Palmetto Expressway.

In Miami-Dade’s 2001 Bicycle Facilities Plan, 12 projects are deemed “Priority I” — read: “remotely possible.” In the seven years since the plan was drafted, only two of those 12 have been implemented: the first half of the Venetian Causeway and the second half of the Venetian Causeway.

“It’s a question of commitment,” concedes BPAC Chairman Theodore Silver, who presides over meetings with the dry, mechanical patience of a man crossing a vast desert. “And it’s difficult to get governments to commit to a minority that’s not very popular.” BPAC’s monthly minutes read like the drafting of surrender papers. During a presentation on an upcoming resurfacing of Flagler Street, the group asked a Florida Department of Transportation engineer if a three-foot-wide bike lane might be installed along the massive three-lane one-way road. The answer, which lasted more than an hour, was: probably not.

Ricardo Ochoa, who owns the Cuba Bike Shop at 2930 NW Seventh Ave., arrived two decades ago from Colombia. He worked for most of that time as an accountant before taking over the shop five years ago. Working with bikes, he says, showed him a different America.

Ochoa’s theory is that cars have isolated Americans from each other, especially in Miami. “Here people drive all the time, and it makes them lonely,” he says. “It’s like a cloud of loneliness hanging over the city.

I think Ochoa’s theory is quite accurate. It’s just incredible how much more your neighborhood and city feels like home when you’re experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations on foot or bike - not isolated by a couple thousand pounds of glass and steel.

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  • The Related Group of Florida is planning the Loft 4 Affordable Housing Condo for downtown Miami. The 404 units in the 35 story tower would be priced starting at $130,000! The best part yet? The building would feature no parking. Truly Urban Living is coming to the heart of the CBD for a change…
    • “If not for this type of concept, you wouldn’t be able to build because you can’t build parking” cost effectively, said Oscar Rodriguez, who heads Related’s affordable division. “That lends itself to more competitive pricing.”
  • Say goodbye to the HOV lanes on I-95. FDOT is working to bring “express” toll lanes to I-95 by 2008. Instead of the one HOV lane, the already gargantuan highway will be repainted to feature narrower 11 foot lanes, two of which will be designated for “express” toll use only. This plan allows users to buy themselves out of the hassles of finding people to carpool with. It’s a total cop out for FDOT and a massive waste of money. Never mind the fact that we wasted $17 Million to install a ramp metering system that was never used, let alone properly analyzed before it was installed. On the plus side, express buses will now run smoother along the corridor, question is, will anyone use them?
  • A US Senate committee rejected Homestead as a possible site for the US Southern Command HQ, currently stationed in Doral. SoCom will remain in Doral in an expanded facility for the next 50 years, at least…
  • Paddy Wagons and Cyclists, you know there is a critical mass happening when you see them together. Despite their best efforts, Miami’s second critical mass, wasn’t exactly too massive: 15 cyclists. Even with the low turnout, Miami Police decided to harass the cyclists, following their every move along the streets of downtown and keeping their beams on them until the group dispersed…
  • Inaccessible Parks. Enough Said. Most local parks are rendered useless to most of us anyway because of their poor designs, maintenance, and integration with their surroundings, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me to see that they aren’t even ADA accessible…
  • Check out what some properly designed bus benches, news stands, and restrooms do for the public spaces of NYC. Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the same firm hired to design Miami’s new Science Museum, the new citywide structures are built out of 95% recycled material…
  • Congratulations to Alesh for winning the Miami New Times’ best website of 2007 and Rick/Alex for winning Broward/Palm Beaches Best Blog Awards…
  • HSR…Where is the US? Touting an Acela Express that averages less than 60 mph…Pathetic…

Sorry about the infrequency of the posts lately, I’ve been caught in the middle of a very hectic week. I spent the better part of my day yesterday discussing some transit issues with some of the top minds in the county. We were brainstorming of some ideas to get TransitMiami more involved in community education and planning. Some new things will be happening around here very soon including a software (finally, yes, Alesh) to something other than this terrible software I currently use.

Last night, I attended the Miami’s 50 Savviest Singles party at Bricks (amazing sound and light system), hosted by The Miami New Times and Hope Center of Miami. I was a honoree at the event and had the opportunity to mingle with some of Miami’s most progressive and unique individuals. I spent most of the night conversing with Dr. Sean Kenniff of “Survivor” fame, Jennifer Santiago, and Adam Saban (Shuster and Saban, LLC.) The proceeds of the evening went to the Hope Center of Miami, a wonderful organization that has been in Miami since 1955 and is dedicated to needs of special individuals in our region.

I’m about to embark on another cross-state expedition. This time, I’m headed across the alley and over the sunshine skyway into Tampa. I’ll snap a few picks depending on what the day looks like and I’ll try to write some transit related material later today (Kendall Corridor, Ramp Metering, Port of Miami Tunnel, Pay lanes on I-95, etc.) Speaking of Kendall Corridor, word on the street is telling me that the community involvement at the local meetings have been pushing to keep trains off of the CSX corridor as well as above grade along the Kendall Dr. corridor. I’ll share my thoughts later, but, as many of you may already know, I’ll likely share why this is such a terrible idea…

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I’m elated and equally stunned to announce that I have been named one of Miami’s 50 Savviest Singles by the Miami New Times. I feel incredibly honored to have been nominated by a peer of mine for this award and hope that I can continue to contribute to my community. I live for this city, as many of you might already know, and genuinely always have my community’s best interests in mind. It’s motivating to see my name appear alongside doctors, lawyers, and other established individuals in the Miami business community, considering that I have yet to graduate from the University of Florida.

I’d like to personally thank Maria A.K.A. Manola Blablablahnik of Sex and the Beach fame, who nominated me for the award. Having met Maria only once, she determined that my dedication to my site and my community involvement merited a nomination. Thank You.

To see the article/photograph and other 49 Savviest Singles, please pick up today’s edition of the Miami New Times. There will also be a celebration of sorts next Thursday at Bricks in Miami from 7-10 pm which I likely will be attending. Tickets, I believe, are $60 and proceeds go to the Hope Center in Miami. I also uploaded the article here and reprinted the bio below for those curious readers who live outside the state. It’s the first time I mention anything so personal on the site, enjoy.

Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal, 21, was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He is currently studying Transportation Engineering at The University of Florida, but, still manages to remain active in the Greater Miami region. He is the creator and author of TransitMiami.com, a local website dedicated to discussing the transportation and urban planning problems that face our region. He uses the site to inform fellow citizens about the developments happening in their area, while offering his professional suggestions in an open forum discussion. He is also an active member in the United Citizens for South Link, a political action committee dedicated to educating citizens about the advantages of public transportation in the South Dade region. In his spare time, Gabriel attends public seminars to address the upcoming public transit projects of the people’s transportation plan and is working with researchers to create a new method for analyzing congestion along Florida’s highways.

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