I live on wide collector residential street in a small neighborhood in the Upper East Side of Miami. Belle Meade is considered to be a “gated community” made up of about 450 homes. Many years ago the residents of Belle Meade decided to erect barricades and fencing along 6th Court in an attempt to curb crime. The barricading of the streets has resulted in only one ingress and egress for the community; if you driving you can only access Belle Meade through NE 76th Street.
In other words, NE 72nd Terrace, 73rd, 74th, 75th, and 77th Streets are pedestrian access only. The effects of barricading these streets are felt throughout the community. NE 76th has become the collector road for the neighborhood and people just can’t resist speeding through this residential street. Last week one of my neighbors came barreling through at nearly 50 mph. (Silver Land Rover, you know who you are)
My neighbors have complained about the situation for years, but no long-term fixes have been made. The City of Miami has tried enforcement and they have also erected temporary electric signs to warn motorists to drive carefully. Not surprisingly, neither of these two tactics have discouraged people from speeding. Last month the County Public Works Department conducted a traffic study and they found that there was not enough traffic to warrant a four way stop sign at NE 76th Street and NE 7th Court intersection.
Since no long-term solution has been found yet, I have decided to take it upon myself to calm the traffic on my street with orange cones. You would be surprised at how effective these traffic cones are. The introduction of traffic cones has noticeably calmed traffic on my street.
Yesterday my neighbors, whom live in Palm Grove, invited me to attend a meeting with several County officials to discuss speeding on their street. They also happen to live on NE 76th Street, but they reside on the west side of Biscayne Boulevard. The fact that Belle Meade has barricaded its streets also affects the traffic patterns on the west side of Biscayne Boulevard as well. Palm Grove residents have to deal with increased traffic and people speeding on what has become a residential collector street for them as well.
The County officials were really nice and they genuinely wanted to find a solution to my neighbors’ speeding problem on their street. I believe the County was receptive to installing a speed table on NE 76th Street in Palm Grove in order to calm traffic.
I invited the County officials to Belle Meade to see what could be done for my street. Although it was almost 6:30pm they were happy to accommodate me and agreed to check out my street. We walked along NE 76th Street and the County’s recommendation was to erect a $100,000 traffic circle at the intersection of NE 76th and NE 7th Court. I suggested a speed table, but was told that the block was too short to accommodate a speed table. No other alternatives were given to me and in all fairness this was really the first conversation I’ve had with the County regarding traffic calming on my street. My hope is that they are open to other traffic calming solutions.
After my meeting with the County yesterday evening, I spoke with my Transit Miami colleagues and our recommendation is a raised intersection or raised crosswalks at the NE 76th Street and NE 7th Court intersection. We believe this is the best option for Belle Meade and it would send a message to drivers that pedestrians are the priority in this residential neighborhood. It is also a much more economical solution. A raised intersections costs about $13,000 and a raised crosswalk costs about $4,000/crosswalk .We would also like to recommend that the speed limit be reduced to 20mph instead of the current 30mph speed limit.
Hopefully the County will agree with our recommendations.
FDOT is planning a two-year Alton Road construction project. Alton Road will be closed at several intersections and all traffic re-routed to a parallel street (West Ave). The project is scheduled to start this April. The project includes plans for reconstructing the road, installing new drainage, installing new lighting, signs, and pavement markings, and constructing concrete islands.
Given the duration and scale of the project, and the inevitable impact on the surrounding residential neighborhoods, residents have been asking FDOT for details on the implementation. As a result, FDOT has scheduled two public information meetings to provide the public with more information.
To me, there are many questions that still need answers. Will there be a bike lane on Alton Road? Will there be larger sidewalks and shade trees planted? Will it be easier and safer to cross Alton Road? When I attempt to cross Alton Road on 13th Street, the “count-down” next to my walking sign is on as soon as I step on the crosswalk. I have exactly 26 seconds to shuffle across – good thing I’m not an old lady with a cane. Cars, on the other hand, get 3 full minutes before the stop light turns green for pedestrians. Just another instance of how pedestrians in Miami are made to feel like second class citizens.
The project has a lot of potential to make Alton Road safer and a more desirable place for pedestrians and bikers. In its current state, I stay away from Alton Road as much as possible as it is nothing but a highway in the middle of the city, noisy, stinky, trafficky, and dangerous. Let’s see what FDOT has in store for us.
Middle Beach Meeting
6pm Tuesday March 19th
Miami Beach Golf Club
2301 Alton Road
Miami Beach FL 33140
South Beach Meeting
6pm Thursday March 21st
Police Athletic LEague
999 11th Street
Miami Beach FL 33139
We received this letter last week which was addressed to City Commissioner Sarnoff, County Commissioner Barreiro and FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego. You can also send an email to them by clicking here.
Dear Commissioners Sarnoff and Barreiro and Mr. Pego,
I am writing to you this morning regarding a matter that is very troubling to me and one that I hope you will consider as part of your agenda: PEDESTRIANS IN THE URBAN CORE. As you are well aware, Miami is trying to become an urban city where people live, work and play– like Chicago or New York. In so doing, it needs to be an urban center that is thoughtfully planned so people can walk safely any time of the day or night. We should be able to walk our dogs, go to the market, or take a stroll to dinner. When you live in an urban core, like Brickell, where my family lives, you cannot be expected to take your car out for every little errand or just to go a few blocks. However, being that walking in the Brickell area is so difficult and dangerous to navigate, I feel like I must do so–compounding the traffic problem and the pedestrian problem. I am sure you agree that we need to make our urban center a place where all can feel safe to walk the streets. However, this is not the case at this point in time. Since I moved to Brickell I have been dismayed at the lack of attention and care given to pedestrians by drivers, construction workers, and city planners.
Walking from Brickell to Downtown. The other day I was walking to downtown from Brickell where we live. A group of us crossed the bridge, then were challenged to cross the street using two cross walks where cars dart at you around the curve where Brickell becomes Biscayne. We need better signals for pedestrians there. A cross walk is not enough; we need bright lights that signal when a pedestrian needs to cross (like is found in front of the FRESH MARKET in Coconut Grove on S Bayshore Drive). Even though we have the walk signal, cars still feel they can turn right on red without stopping. I have observed people run across that cross walk because cars were coming at them so quickly. Then as you continue to walk on 2nd ave and (a) there is no side walk because of construction of the Whole Foods–we actually had to walk on the street between downtown distributor and SE 2nd Street, and (b) there is no cross walk at the intersection of 2nd ave and SE 2nd Street!!! You literally run for it so you don’t get hit by a car. Enough is enough! This is one example of many. I invite you to walk along Brickell Ave and see how challenging it is to walk in a straight line (like you do in NY or Chicago) and feel safe, without having to navigate barricades and other obstacles in what is really an obstacle course.Transitmiami.com has done a wonderful job of highlighting what they called the Brickell “deathwalk” : http://www.transitmiami.com/
With the taxes we pay to live in the Brickell area, we must have the pedestrian walkways we deserve and have paid for–ones that you would want your grandmother or children to walk down. We need representatives like you to stand up for us and think creatively about ways we can emulate cities like Chicago, where I previously lived and always felt safe as a pedestrian. As the Brickell area becomes more populated with CitiCenter and other developments, this will become more and more of a moral imperative. People are getting hurt and people’s lives are at stake here. As citizens and taxpayers, we should be able to walk the streets–elderly, children, groups, etc– without fear of tripping on obstacles or being hit by a car. This is a very serious matter or moral proportions that deserves your immediate attention.I will be forwarding this email to Felipe Azenha of Transit Miami.com and will also bring up the issue at the board meeting of Icon Brickell.I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing about the ways you can alleviate this dangerous problem.
View the prize-wining installation of the 2012 DawnTown design/build competition at HistoryMiami.
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 6:30pm
101 West Flagler Street
For the past five years, DawnTown’s annual design ideas competition has attracted designers from around the world to present new and creative possibilities for Miami. This year’s winning design, Up-Downtown, is an international collaboration between Jacob Brillhart (Miami, Fl, USA) and Manuel Clavel-Rojo (Murcia, Spain).
Up-Downtown interactively presents the rapid rise of downtown Miami over an extended period of time.
HistoryMiami Members: Free
RSVP by March 18: 305 375 5356 | RSVP@historymiami.org
Friend of TransitMiami.com and the Purple Line | U+Transit pop-up installation, Leah Weston, put together a fantastic map that puts Miami’s rail transit into national and international perspective. Have a look!
As Weston says, “the image speaks for itself”.
Go ahead and click on it. The enlarged version is much better.
The FDOT has plans to resurface 79th Street in 2014, yet it looks like very little will be done to improve safety for pedestrians along this poorly designed street. 79th Street from Biscayne Bay to I95 has 3 lanes going west to east and 1 lane going east to west. The eastbound lanes have a design speed of 45mph+ through the heart of the city. This is unconscionable and downright irresponsible of the FDOT.
The FDOT is touting that they will “Install five new mid-block pedestrian crossings at various locations, including near the Little River Branch Library”. Really? This is the best they can do? How about crosswalks at every intersection? Crosswalks at every intersection should be the FDOT’s minimum safety standard. More importantly, this road needs to be converted back into two lanes in each direction with one street parking; 82nd Street should also be converted back into a two-way. Additionally, either bike lanes or sharrows need to be added to the scope of this project.
Please attend this meeting on March 6th. Unfortunately, I will not be unable to attend. Transit Miami will be following this project very closely and making plenty of noise about it.
The long awaited Purple Transit Line has finally come to Miami, significantly expanding the public’s access to critical hubs within the city. The completion of this line has been possible due to unprecedented collaboration and cooperation between community stakeholders and local and state government. Increasing public transit infrastructure is of vital concern to all in Miami for a multitude of reasons. Currently we sit at over 2.5 million in population and are expected to grow to a city of 2.7 million in just 8 short years; our streets are already over-burdened by cars, so efficient, reliable public transportation is a must.
Over the course of time, community leaders, citizen, and local business owners have made clear to the local and state governments the many reasons why increased public transportation is necessary. It will provide more equitable transportation opportunities, increased business activity via foot traffic, a reduction of our shared carbon footprint, and encouragement for a more active lifestyle amongst Miamians. Our hard work and persistence has paid off and we are pleased to launch the opening celebration for the Purple Line on March 8th and 9th at its first station, right under the overpass at NE 2nd Ave and 36th Street.
Join the celebration at the opening of the Purple Transit Line. Cafes, vendor stands, and all the businesses normally associated with transit stations will be open and ready for business; musicians, artists and other street performers will also be present. You will have the opportunity to learn more about what increased public transportation will do for you and our city. This transit line is but a first step in providing a forward thinking public transit system that puts Miami on the map as a truly modern, global city.
A busy holiday weekend reminds me that Miami is trying to be a “real” city – but is it yet? I’m sure we all wish it could be as easy as a Pinocchio fairytale of making a wooden puppet into a “real” boy with just the touch of a wand. But in reality, our city needs a whole lot more than just some magic stick. We host all these weekend events – Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Miami Boat Show, and other President’s Day weekend activities – to showcase our Magic City to our visitors. And yet what we end up with are packed busses with long headways; clogged highways; and other congestions making our city, well, far from magical to our visitors.
Its not the events, its the experience. Despite a little rain on Friday and Saturday, this weekend’s events were a success – attracting people from all over the state and country. But how was their time actually in our city? Special events are a reason to come to the city, but the experience is what attracts people back. We need to offer reliable transportation options so they can really experience all of Miami.
Its not the funding amount, its the investment. We all know times are rough, and money is tight. But yet its obvious that we are still focusing our funds into tired highway transportation that literally gets us no where. Of course we don’t have the funds to plop NYC subway system on Miami – but we can start our smart investments incrementally.
Its not the mode, its the freedom of choice. Transportation, transit, transport, or whatever you want to call it is a broad category – as are the choices it should provide. The priority shouldn’t be on one particular mode of transportation, rather a priority to provide a wide variety of options. Its about the freedom of choosing bus, rail, bike, car, walk, skate, etc to get around.
Not that we need to put up a false front for our brave visitors on special weekends, nor care more for our tourism than our own livability – because we already know these are facts that we have been discussing for years. Its about revisiting our city from another viewpoint. Just think how many visitors we could transport between Miami Beach and downtown if Baylink existed; or the improved bus experience if we had shorter headways at least on event weekends; or the number of DecoBike rentals if the M-Path was cohesive; or the successful storefronts and valuable real estate if the streets were more pedestrian-friendly.
Is Miami ready to be a “real” city and cradle a wide-mix of diverse groups. If so, lets see the real investment in multiple transportation options – or where is that fairy with the magic wand when you need her?
Ever since I moved to the Upper Eastside I have been documenting crashes along Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District. Most of the crashes have resulted with vehicles being projected on to our sidewalks. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed along Biscayne Boulevard.
The MiMo Biscayne Association has meet with the FDOT on numerous occasions and has asked them to take the appropriate measure to reduce the design speed of the Biscayne Boulevard. There is no good reason why the FDOT should encourage drivers to move at speeds in excess of 45 mph, as this is what this road is currently designed to do. If the FDOT were truly concerned about safety, they would design a road that discourages speeding. Moving cars as quickly as possible is the FDOT’s mantra, not the safety of people.
How many more crashes and people need to be injured or must die before someone from government acts on behalf of their citizens? Since this is an FDOT road neither of our elected officials from the County or City have any power of jurisdiction over this road. This is just a total disgrace. On what planet is a road like this good for pedestrians and businesses?
Disgusted? Please send the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego, City Commissioner Mark Sarnoff and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson an email by clicking here.
Below are all of the crashes I have documented.
Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?
Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:
“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”
So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.
For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.
Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown.
In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.
The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.
Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:
- San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
- Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
- Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct
While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.
The following is a guest post by Matthew González, a pedestrian, cyclist, and in-denial vegetarian who blogs his adventures at mgregueiro.com. He formerly worked in Miami with Teach For America and now lives in Spain doing research as a Fulbright Fellow. He launched mgregueiro.com as a place to discuss great ideas with the many great minds hiding throughout the wrinkles and corners of the interwebs. Check out his blog, or follow him at @mgregueiro to join the conversation.
In 2010, 4,280 pedestrians and 618 cyclists were killed by motor vehicles in the United States. The most dangerous state? Florida, with 4.40 pedalcyclist fatalities per million population. Though some states have worked to lower this number by painting bike lanes and posting “Share The Road” signs, it is time American cities move from this temporary solution to a more permanent one: designing streets that serve motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
The problem with “Share The Road” signs is that they pin cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians against each other by making them responsible for outcomes, i.e., when a cyclist gets hit by a car it must be the cyclist’s or motorist’s fault. This thinking, however, doesn’t go deep enough and will not bring the much needed solutions.
These fatalities are caused by a systemic failure of our city infrastructure to provide safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. Legislators must understand that “Share The Road” signs are no more than construction signs: they represent the need for work to be done on our city’s roads, not the outcome. Cycling and jogging/running are the two most popular outdoor activities among Americans and it is time our city infrastructure reflect it.
Living in cities designed for and around the car, it is easy to forget that walking and cycling predate the automobile as primary modes of transportation. In fact, crosswalks and bike lanes were a consequence of automobile companies lobbying for changes in street design to make traveling by automobile more practical and lessen the hatred of motorists. (For a brief history on this shift in city design, check out this great TEDx talk by Mikael Colville-Andersen: Bicycle Culture by Design)
By the early 1960s, cyclists had lost the battle for America’s streets: roads were for motorists. But in 1967, cyclists won a major victory with the creation of the first modern bike lane in Davis, California. And twenty years later, the now iconic “Share The Road” sign was adopted by the North Carolina Board of Transportation – now the Department of Transportation Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation (A tip of the helmet to the Tar Heel state).
Unfortunately, more than twenty years later, cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians are still fighting to share the road. And looking at the number of pedestrian and cycling deaths caused by motorist each year, pedestrians and cyclists are losing.
Looking Past “Share The Road”
The solution to these unnecessary deaths is no secret. Denmark and The Netherlands boast the highest number of cyclists per capita. According to a 2011 study published in Injury Prevention, “27% of Dutch trips are by bicycle, 55% are women, and the bicyclist injury rate is 0.14 injured/million km. In the USA, 0.5% of commuters bicycle to work, only 24% of adult cyclists are women, and the injury rate of bicyclists is at least 26 times greater than in the Netherlands.”(Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street)
What is the difference between the US and these countries? Our streets.
The Netherlands has more than 1,800 miles of cycle tracks: bicycle paths that are separated from the street by a physical barrier. Meanwhile American cyclists are still fighting for bike lanes, that are easily ignored by motorist.
To bring an end to these unnecessary deaths, America’s cities need complete streets: roads designed to serve the needs of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. This approach to city infrastructure is not imaginary, it has proven itself to be successful in The Netherlands, Denmark, and many other nations. Moreover, looking at the drastic paradigm shift that swept the nation after the car, it is clear that the US can again change the way our cities approach road design.
A team of urban designers and architects, led by Miami based firm PlusUrbia*, were among the finalists for their design concept of ‘Port-Side’, Miami’s World Trade Center’s future commercial destination.
The team developed a concept coined “Port-Side Miami” to become the city’s new commercial district on the west end of the Port’s Dodge Island, which was designated by the “PortMiami 2035 master plan” to be developed into office space, retail, restaurants and a number of high-end hotels.
In an invitation-only RFQ for a master plan, the designers were given a set of parameters that dictated an intricate solution by means of phasing the project over time in order to minimize the effect on the port’s functions and to retain the existing buildings until the last phase. In addition, PlusUrbia’s team, following the RFQ’s guidelines, refrained to design specific buildings and maintained a generic/volumetric look to the design with the intention of later engaging other architects to provide the architecture.
Endowed with a privileged location, the site affords its buildings with outstanding views of Miami, Key Biscayne and South Beach. As such, Port-Side was designed to become a key upscale destination for residents and visitors alike, including retail, office and hotels that would provide round the clock activity as well as supporting one of the busiest cruise ship and cargo terminals in the US. The project aimed to transform Port Miami into an anchor for South Florida as well as setting a new standard for waterfront development.
The master plan’s building disposition was designed to emphasize its iconic nature while using downtown Miami’s scale and intensity as reference. Port-Side’s master plan is envisioned as an immediate extension of downtown while maintaining its identifiable urban island feel.
The proposal would become a destination by simply its physical attributes, engaging the water’s edge in a variety of ways (pedestrian and vehicular promenades, plazas and waterfront parks) supported by shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants on the water.
The new district retrofits and extends existing infrastructure (Caribbean Way) as its pedestrian and bicycle access extending the City of Miami’s plans for its river-walk that connects the river to Bayside Marketplace, Bayfront Park and proposed future plans that may possibly include other means of public transportation.
*PlusUrbia Design in collaboration with GSHstudio, OskiStudio and studioLFA
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