Currently viewing the tag: "Walking"

The relentless siege on pedestrians and cyclists rages on in South Florida. In June alone, local media outlets reported on an embarrassing number of tragic accidents in the greater Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano area. While the recent Miami Bicycle Summit touted many plans and accomplishments in bicycle infrastructure, the troubling frequency of high-profile accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists requires a more aggressive response from local agencies and leaders. Below is a summary of some recent accidents. (The dates correspond to the date of the coverage, not the actual accident.)

Is this a more appropriate warning for pedestrians and cyclists in South Florida?

June 14th, Ft. Lauderdale

Officials: Pickup Truck Hits Woman, Baby

A mother and her baby, who was in a stroller, were taken to the hospital after being struck by a pickup truck in Ft. Lauderdale.

June 13th, Lake Worth

Man Riding Bike Hospitalized After Being Hit By Tractor Trailer in Lake Worth

In what appears to be a classic ‘right-hook’ accident, a bicyclist is in critical condition after being struck by a tractor-trailer. No word on any charges facing the driver.

June 10th, Miami

Pedestrian Stuck and Killed

In this horrific accident, the innocent victim, who was on the sidewalk, was actually severed in two by a vehicle after it collided with another vehicle at an intersection in Miami.

June 7th , Hollywood

Dania Beach Man Questioned In Deadly Hollywood Hit-and-Run

On May 13th, Wilmar Galeano was riding his bicycle on the Sheridan Street Bridge, when he was struck from behind and killed by a speeding white van. The accident was caught on video, but the driver fled and the accident is still under investigation.

June 6th, Ft. Lauderdale

Police ID Man Struck by Car, Killed in Ft. Lauderdale

Jamie Valderrama of Miami Beach tried to leave the scene after striking and killing a pedestrian, Juan Herrera, with his Lexus. Charges against Valderrama are pending.

June 6, Lauderdale Lakes

Bicyclist Hospitalized After Collision With Car

June 2nd, Coral Gables

Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck At Gables Intersection

In this tragic accident, 4 pedestrians were struck when two cars collided in an intersection and careened into the sidewalk. One of the pedestrian victims, Olatz Conde Salcedo, who was head of human resources for Nextel in Bilbao, Spain, later died from injuries suffered in the accident.

Has South Florida actually become more dangerous for pedestrians? A recent Transportation For America Study showed Miami-Ft. Lauderdale to be the 4th most dangerous region in the USA for pedestrians. Is South Florida about to climb in this dubious list? Where is the vocal leadership on this most basic of issues that deteriorates our quality of life and the viability of our cities? How can a city thrive when it’s dangerous to simply cross the street or walk the sidewalks?

Of course, if you have money, you can drive recklessly and kill with impunity in these parts. Need proof? Read about the outrageously light sentence recently handed to Ryan LeVin who murdered two pedestrians in Ft. Lauderdale in 2009.

When are our public agencies and elected officials going to take pedestrians seriously? Streets are for people - not just cars.

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WALKSAFE is an innovative program based here in South Florida. As a result of the WALKSAFE program there has been a reduction in traumatic brain injuries in children by 60% over the last 8 years.  At present, the program is being emulated around the country, and bicycle advocates are partnering with them to start the BIKESAFE program in Liberty City. Please click here to vote for WALKSAFE in Nike’s ” Back Your Block” competition.

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Retired police office Glenn Rice attempts to cross the street in downtown Miami Springs. Despite the pedestrian island, flashing lights, and signage and oh, the state law, Mr. Rice gets no love.

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According to this article in USA Today, Men’s Fitness has named Miami the fattest city in America.

Awesome.

Now, one must always take magazine and news media rankings with a grain of salt. The metrics used can vary wildly and often allow one to paint a city any number of desired shades. As an example, the Brookings Institute issued a report last year that ranked Miami as the eighth most walkable city in America-two spots ahead of New York City. That is clearly ridiculous. Moreover, “Miami” typically doesn’t mean Miami proper, but the larger metropolitan area.

Yet, while the tanned and toned tend to roam South Beach, Men’s Fitness is on to something here with the greater Miami area. The USA Today article says the “Magic City” garners this most dubious distinction for several known factors.

Miami received poor marks because of a large number of overweight people, a high rate of TV viewing among residents, long commutes and poor air quality**. The city has almost three times as many fast-food restaurants as the average city. And participation is low in outdoor activities such as biking, running and fitness walking.

The newspaper interviewed Claudia Gonzalez, a registered dietitian in Miami, who said Miamians don’t walk because of all the highways.

“If you walk in some areas, people look at you like you are strange — like, ‘Why are you walking when everyone else is driving?’ ” Exceptions include Miami Beach, Coconut Grove and South Beach, she says.

Hey, maybe we need more transit, walkable and bicycle-friendly infrastructure?

Just a wacky Wednesday morning thought…

**Didn’t Forbes rank us as having the best air quality last year, i.e. the cleanest city?!

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(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

You may have heard that last Friday morning thousands of used sneakers were dumped along the Palmetto Expressway, delaying  traffic for hours while crews were forced to clean up the kicks.

With no one stepping forth to claim the shoes and no signs of an accident,  rumors are afloat that they were dispensed in protest of Miami’s car culture.

Officials are now looking for a charity that might accept thousands of sneakers. If you have a suggestion, let the Miami State Police know.

Fact or fiction?

We can’t be sure, but let us all work towards a more walkable 2009.

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  • Farecards are coming and we couldn’t be happier. MDT will spend $72 Million to finally upgrade the transit fare collection system, phasing out the cash only system for a new high-tech card. However, on the downside, MDT is also looking to increase fares to $2 among other things in order to improve the federal ratings of the proposed North and East/West expansions…
  • Man who tried to commit suicide by rail this morning is alive and well, even after he was run over by 3 rail cars…
  • Ana Mendez performs a mini experiment and finds that walking around downtown is easier than driving (duh!) I find it shocking how many Herald reporters don’t use transit regularly…
  • The CITT has reversed its original decision to refuse the funding for new metrorail cars. We can likely kiss one (maybe two) of the original proposed extensions goodbye…
  • Downtown Doral is rising…
  • Rumor has it that the state is working on an incentive program to bring a new Hispanic owned airline to MIA as well as a reincarnation of Eastern Airlines…
  • Here is another no-brainer: Rising Gas Prices Lead to Increase in Public Transportation

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I live next to a busy intersection in South Beach - Meridian Avenue and 13th Street. It’s the main entryway to Flamingo Park as well as the beach’s central avenue. It’s the only tree-shaded roadway around. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of traffic: cars, bikes and pedestrians.

Within the past few months, four-way stop signs went up at the intersection, making it significantly safer, or so I thought. One of the stop signs is all but hidden behind a tree. Cars blow past it all the time. This is doubly dangerous considering pedestrians now assume cars will stop at the intersection. There are people pushing baby strollers to the park, little kids going to shoot hoops, people walking their dogs.

I emailed the city to point out the problem. There had been small temporary stop signs in the middle of the road until recently, and I suggested they do something similar on a permanent basis or at least make the hidden stop sign more visible. Never heard back.

Walking home one night, I came across two Miami Beach motorcycle cops. They were there to run down cars that rolled through the stop sign. I told them people couldn’t see the sign, but they argued there is a warning sign farther back (small red octagon with arrow) and nothing that could be done. When I emphasized the inherent danger, one of the cops said pedestrians should be “alert” anyway.

So, I’ve contacted the county’s public works department. They tell me they’ll check it out. In the meantime, I have a strong feeling someone is going to get hurt or killed. I hope I’m wrong.

Originally uploaded by Ping
This is the title of a paper, written by Lars Gemzoe, a Danish professor of urban design at the School of Architecture in Copenhagen. In this paper, he uses Copenhagen as a case study to illustrate the changes that helped change the Danish Capital from an autocentric city to a pedestrian friendly one.

During the first half of the twentieth century, Copenhagen didn’t have many outdoor gathering places. In the 1960’s Stroget, the main street of the inner city, was converted to a pedestrian only street. In the following years more plazas and spaces were also converted to pedestrian use only, and people started doing more than walking. They were strolling, sitting down to enjoy the weather, watching street performers, people watching, etc. It had become a destination — a high quality urban space.

The changes in the city came through a slow process, reducing parking 2-3% year, taking away traffic space and dedicating it to urban spaces, and implementing bike lanes, among other improvements.

Miami has its own success story, Lincoln Road. But maybe things shouldn’t stop there. Miami-Dade County could be more pedestrian friendly. We have the weather and tourism as an advantage. Up and coming areas like Downtown and the Design District would be ideal areas for pedestrianised areas.

Find the full paper here.

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“The paradox of transportation in the late 20th Century is that while it became possible to travel to the moon, it also became impossible, in many cases, to walk across the street.”
- Joell Vanderwagen

Too often our society seems to overlook one of our most important modes of transportation- our own two legs. A new website, Walk Score, aims to change our dependence back to our own legs for personal mobility and seeks to help homebuyers find homes with many destinations within walking distance.

The premise is simple, you enter an address and the system characterizes the neighborhood on a 0-100 scale based on how many destinations are within a reasonable (less than 1 mile) walking distance. Essentially any ranking below 25 is is impossible to walk around while scores above 90 signify dense easily accessible neighborhoods. The website takes schools, restaurants, grocery stores, shops, parks, and libraries among other items into consideration when calculating the neighborhoods walk score.

Walk score allows people to quickly find homes in areas where car ownership let alone full dependence on a vehicle is not a requirement. In playing around with the program for a little while you’ll quickly see the disparity between automobile based/designed sprawl areas and true urban neighborhoods. The importance of walking to destinations daily cannot be emphasized enough from a planning perspective or as new research shows as a matter of your health.

President Bush’s Crawford Ranch somehow attained the dubious zero rating. Let us know how your neighborhood compares…

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